Friday, February 5, 2016

Social entrepreneur writes about racism and lack of high-speed Internet in Dumas

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 11:15 AM

click to enlarge LEILA JANAH: The CEO and founder of Samasource, a nonprofit that aims to bring digital employment opportunities around the world.
  • LEILA JANAH: The CEO and founder of Samasource, a nonprofit that aims to bring digital employment opportunities around the world.

Leila Janah, the CEO of a buzzy nonprofit that helps poor people find tech jobs, has a post on Medium about her experience with systemic racism and the lack of access to high-speed broadband in Dumas. The nonprofit she founded and heads as CEO, Samasource, hires low-income people around the world to perform digital tasks for companies like Google, Walmart and Getty Images. A related effort, Samaschool, teaches low-income people the basic skills they need to work in the digital economy — not aimed at making them tech entrepreneurs, but helping them to learn to do often low-wage work like data verification or photo tagging. Wired has a Q&A with Janah that offers good background. There's a Samaschool in Dumas that's been in operation for about a year and a half. 

On Medium, Janah writes about the racism she's encountered there:

Yesterday our Samaschool instructor Terrence Davenport called me from Dumas, a town on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River Delta. He was out of breath. He’d been showing around a film crew covering our work for a documentary, and as part of their visit Terrence took them to the local chamber of commerce.

The Chamber had just published some books on the history of Main Street. Terrence, a local history buff, asked if he might borrow the books to show the film crew. The older white lady behind the counter gave him a long look, and then, without smiling, told him coldly, “you’d better bring the books back, or we’ll tie a rope around your neck.”

Terrence is about the nicest person you’ll meet. He grew up in the Southern Baptist Church, high-fives everyone in town, and moved back to Dumas after getting his degree in Fayetteville in order to help his community.

...

Racism is the injustice that gets swept under the rug in our country. It makes it that much harder for Sama to do our work. How can we convince people to get motivated and seek projects on Internet-based platforms when their personal histories include so much overt discrimination that they’ve lost hope? When they’ve been paid 30% less for the same job at the local furniture store, or told to be careful after dark?

Another barrier? Sufficiently fast Internet.

Two of our students, for example, got great job offers as virtual call center agents. But these were canceled when they discovered that they can’t get sufficient bandwidth at home to meet the call center requirements. The ISPs simply don’t serve rural communities with the same products, cutting them off from desperately needed income.

High-speed connectivity, like clean water, is a basic human need in the twenty-first century. There’s no excuse for the richest country in the world to deny its poorest citizens what they need most: a chance to connect.

Here's a video diary of Janah talking about Dumas, which she says has similar problems to the high poverty communities in Africa and Asia where Samasource also works:


Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Speaking of...

  • Chinese pet treat company to open $5 million facility in Danville

    April 17, 2017
    The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) announced today that a Chinese company will invest $5 million to locate a new pet-treat facility in Danville. The company, Pet Won Pet Products, will create 70 new jobs at the 28,887-square-foot facility, according to ADEC. The facility was formerly home to Petit Jean Poultry. /more/
  • NWA Worker's Justice Center: Fort Smith Sen. Jake Files' construction company avoiding $10,000 payment to subcontractor

    February 7, 2017
    The Northwest Arkansas Worker's Justice Center, which is representing a subcontractor from Northwest Arkansas, claims that Arkansas Sen. Jake Files (R- Fort Smith) owes the subcontractor they represent almost $10,000 for roofing work done for Files' construction company, FFH Construction. After many attempts to reach Files, they say, he still hasn't paid. /more/
  • Car crashes through Argenta Bead Co., causes thousands in damage

    December 5, 2016
    A wayward Mercedes-Benz careened off Main Street in North Little Rock following a traffic accident Saturday night, with the car smashing through a window and destroying a door at Argenta Bead Co. The impact knocked over shelves and scattered what the owner of the business called "thousands and thousands and thousands" of beads and charms, including several expensive and rare antique glass beads — across the store. /more/
  • Gov. Hutchinson and business leaders: medijuana could cause uncertainty, dangerous working conditions on the job.

    September 28, 2016
    At a press conference this morning at the State Chamber of Commerce, Gov. Asa Hutchinson continued voicing his opposition to the two ballot initiatives that could bring medical marijuana to the state. Hutchinson was backed by Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and several prominent Arkansas businessmen, who said they were worried marijuana use by their employees — along with a clause that would keep them from discriminating against those prescribed marijuana for illnesses — would cause safety concerns for their workforce and drive up insurance costs. /more/
  • Glatfelter to open $80 million paper plant in Fort Smith

    March 1, 2016
    Glatfelter, a Pennsylvania-based international manufacturer of specialty papers, will open a new manufacturing facility in Fort Smith, the company announced today. The company stated that it would create up to 84 high-skilled manufacturing jobs at the $80-million plant. /more/
  • Womack gets plucked by 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver'

    May 18, 2015
    HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which premiered last April, has consistently shown itself to be a Daily Show-level contender for the humor-news crown. Up for discussion on the show last night: the myriad ways major poultry producers exploit chicken farmers. Also featured in the video: Arkansas Republican Rep. Steve Womack, who gets plucked and roasted for placing a rider on the agriculture appropriations bill that forbids the USDA from enforcing already-written protections for the nation's poultry farmers. /more/
  • $4 billion tech company calls it quits in Indiana over anti-LGBT 'Religious Freedom' bill.

    March 26, 2015
    Take heed, Arkansas: the same day Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana announced he would sign the state's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" — an anti-LGBT bill with disturbing similarities to Rep. Bob Ballinger's HB 1228 — a $4 billion tech company announced they're pulling up stakes there rather than "require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination." Ouch. /more/
  • Lindsey's Resort on Little Red River to close after 50 years

    March 23, 2015
    A note on the website of Lindsey's Resort, the popular trout-fishing destination on the Little Red River at Heber Springs, says the resort will be forced to close due to a bank foreclosure. /more/
  • Tysons give $5 million for UA agriculture research

    March 2, 2015
    The Tyson family and Tyson Foods have made a $5 million gift to toward the Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences, a $16.3 million project of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. /more/
  • BloombergView reports on broadband access for Arkansas schools

    October 1, 2014
    Here's a little national coverage on the fight between broadband providers and education advocates (joined by other business interests) who want to allow K-12 schools to access the public fiber optic network for colleges and universities, ARE-ON. /more/
  • More »

Comments (45)

Showing 1-45 of 45

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-45 of 45

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

  • The Jerry Jones at the Ethics Commission Edition

    A potential constitutional amendment from the state Bar Association; the city of Little Rock and homelessness; and Jerry Jones, ethics and the North Little Rock Police Department — all covered on this week's podcast.
    • May 19, 2017
  • The Deafening Silence Edition

    The emerging scandal surrounding President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey and the silence from Arkansas Republicans, the defeat of the Little Rock millage and more — on this week's podcast.
    • May 12, 2017
  • The Rich Get Richer, Sick Get Sicker Edition

    Health care, Judge Wendell Griffen and the legislature and the Arkansas Supreme Court and Michael Morton — all covered on this week's podcast.
    • May 5, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

Visit Arkansas

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Underutilized waterway is a hidden gem in urban Little Rock

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation