Mar 18

Jim Crow in Silicon Valley is Exposed Beyond the Rhetoric Opinion / Editorial BY HARRY ALFORD


Harry C. Alford
Jim Crow in Silicon Valley is Exposed

This is the age of high technology. IT companies are leading the way in job growth and high paying jobs as the world conducts business at the speed of light. No place else in the world focuses so intently on the industry than the Silicon Valley in the Palo Alto and San Jose areas of California. California has a minority population of 52 percent, and logic would dictate that this locale would provide opportunities for Blacks and Hispanics. However, the San Jose Mercury News reports that is not the case.

The information technology business ranks as the most segregated and discriminatory industries in the U.S. The hiring practices by companies like Google, Apple, Yahoo, Oracle, Applied Materials, Hewlett Packard, Cisco and others act more like the Ku Klux Klan than good corporate citizens. This 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 companies to avoid public scrutiny until now.

The Mercury News used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain hiring data as recently as 2005 from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP), which tracks hiring practices under Executive Order 11246. Every two years major corporations are audited for their racial and gender demographics at all levels.

The Mercury News attempted to obtain 2008 hiring data but companies that include Google, Apple, Yahoo, Oracle and Applied Materials have blocked access using the court system. Ten companies have been investigated and findings indicate that collectively, only 2.1 percent of the workforce is Black while only 5.2 percent of the workforce is Hispanic.

The Mercury News reported, “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 work-force data obtained by the Mercury News through the Freedom of Information request.”

“In 2008, the share of computer workers living in Silicon Valley who are Black or [Hispanic] was 1.5 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively – shares that had declined since 2000. Nationally, Blacks and [Hispanic] 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 apply serious pressure to end these discriminatory practices. 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 and La Raza should stop accepting money from these bigot corporations. They should be protesting and suing them in the courts. If they donÂ’t, I guess the National Black Chamber of Commerce will have to go after them like we did 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 fighting back. 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. WI

Harry Alford is the co-founder, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website:www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

Leave a Reply