Race and the Digital: Racial Formation and 21st Century Technologies

Klout: A Clout to Address the Digital Divide by Ebony Paramo

The turn of the century brought a new millennium with innovative Information and Communication Technologies that shaped society as we know it today. The shift from radios and televisions to mobile devices and the internet occurred without truly knowing and without completely understanding people's lives and their racial and socioeconomic situation at the time. The progress of ICTs and their capability to facilitate communication and engagement in a wider context does, however, signal a step made towards achieving inclusion of people of all identities and status. Nonetheless, the inequalities that existed in the physical world transcended into the digital one. Screens replaced people's faces and keyboards substituted people's voices, just as the lack of access of the aforementioned ICTs mimick urban inequalities evident in communities of ethnic minorities. These disparities help define the concept known as the digital divide.  In Laura Robinson's, et. al reading "Digital Inequalities and Why they Matter", she shares that "...one cannot understand the social landscape of the twenty-first century without coming to grips with digital inequalities" (Robinson, et.al 2015: 570). Foundational to my paper is the emphasis on the social media platform, Klout, course readings and notes, in addition to the "Computer and Internet Use in the United States: Population Characteristics: data set from the U.S. Census Bureau, May 13 and the Pew Research Center's data set "The Demographics of Social Media Users-2012" from February 2013, to help guide the argument of addressing the intersectional social identities encompassing race, class, gender, and ability in the 'real world' that contributes to the existing digital divide. It is my intention to demonstrate that the color-blind theory ICT pioneers strived to create failed to exist, and will only come about if a color-blind lifestyle is adopted by all in the United States and worldwide in the physical world. People of color, such as African Americans, Latinas/os and Native Americans have little to no access and engagement in Information Communication Technologies, as seen with Klout. The least citizens can do is be aware of what is going on in their surroundings; with no access to the internet and/or devices that provide internet access, individuals are isolated and giving them less opportunities to utilize the platforms available, and less opportunities for communication with others that may help them change an undesirable aspect of society.

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