Jim Crow in Silicon Valley is exposed

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HarryCAlfordbox

(NNPA)—This is the age of high technology. IT companies are leading the way in job growth and high paying jobs as the world does business at the speed of thought. No place else in the world concentrates in this industry better than the Silicon Valley of California (Palo Alto-San Jose area). So with California having a minority population of 52 percent, logic would dictate that this is a place of much diversity and opportunity for Blacks and Hispanics. Sadly, that, according to investigative reporting from the San Jose Mercury News, is not the case. This industry in this location is probably the most segregated and discriminatory place in the United States. The hiring and training by companies like Google, Apple, Yahoo, Oracle, Applied Materials, Hewlett Packard, Cisco and others are acting more like the Ku Klux Klan than a good corporate citizen.

It is easy to do when traditional civil rights groups give you a pass as long as you provide sponsorship money for their fundraising events. Some groups even join with these culprits on advocacy and legislative issues as if these bastions of racism are examples of good inclusive governance. This is damaging and has caused these rascals to go free of public criticism until now.

The Mercury News used the Freedom of Information Act to get hiring data as late as 2005 from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance, which tracks this under Executive Order 11246. Every two years major corporations are audited for their racial and gender demographics at all levels of hiring. The News tried to get 2008 data but companies like Google, Apple, Yahoo, Oracle and Applied Materials have successfully blocked access to that data in the courts. It is a good reason that they did as the numbers are just un-American.

Of the 10 companies investigated, here are the results. Collectively, only 2.1 percent of the workforce is Black while only 5.2 percent of the workforce is Hispanic. The News states “Of the 5,907 top managers and officials in the Silicon Valley offices of the 10 large companies in 2005, 296 were Black or Hispanic, a 20 percent decline from 2000, according to U.S. Department of Labor workforce data obtained by the Mercury News through the Freedom of Information Act. In 2008, the share of computer workers living in Silicon Valley who are Black or Latino was 1.5 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively—shares that had declined since 2000. Nationally, Blacks and Latinos were 7.1 percent and 5.3 percent of computer workers, respectively, shares that were up since 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The share of managers and top officials who are female at those 10 big Silicon Valley firms slipped to 26 percent in 2005, from 28 percent in 2000.” This isn’t progress but a reversal of our gains during the Civil Rights Struggle.

What these racial culprits are doing should be punished by the U.S. Justice Department. It is blatant discrimination and must be stopped. Now that it is exposed we must put serious pressure on this activity. What they think they can do is import a massive amount of Asians via H-1B visas and count them in their collective minority numbers. First of all, only U.S. citizens can be counted in these numbers and all groups, especially Black and Hispanic, must not be under-represented. It violates law and should prohibit these corporations from doing business with the federal government or any other entity that receives federal funding or benefits from a federal program or regulation.

The NAACP, Urban League, La Raza, etc. should cease receiving money from these bigot corporations. Certainly they should stop doing their bidding and representing them as good, outstanding corporate citizens. They should be protesting and suing them in the courts. They should put serious pressure on the U.S. government to enforce standing civil rights and equal opportunity laws. If they don’t than I guess the National Black Chamber of Commerce will have to go after them in their absence like we did in the telecommunications and auto industries with success back in the 1990s. It is not exactly our mission but someone has to do it.

Remember, there are reasons why we have triple the unemployment of the national average. This is one of them and no one is going to change the situation but us. We sometimes “sleep” with the enemy instead of beating them upside their heads. As Frederick Douglass taught us long ago, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and never will.” Wake up people, they are trying to ruin us and destroy our children. This is not the time to be nice.

(Harry C. Alford is co-founder, president/CEO, of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. website: http://www.nationalbcc.org. See halford@ nationalbcc.org.)

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