(BALTIMORE – October 23, 2023) – The recent announcement that Baltimore has been selected as a federal tech hub for artificial intelligence and biotechnology is undoubtedly a moment of excitement for the city. It promises to bring forth substantial investment and create thousands of jobs, which is great news for the region. However, as African Americans, we must critically examine whether this new tech hub truly has room for us or if it will perpetuate the longstanding disconnect between the African American community and the broader city of Baltimore.
The potential economic impact and job creation are significant, but we must ask ourselves, will schools like Poly, Carver, and Mervo be an integral part of this new trajectory? Will students in East and West Baltimore have meaningful access to the opportunities presented by this tech hub, or will we find ourselves, once again, on the periphery of development while the overarching white community reaps the benefits?
While Baltimore’s designation as a tech hub holds great promise, the questions that must be asked concern the inclusivity and accessibility of this initiative for African Americans. The history of tech hubs and innovation centers in the United States has been marked by a lack of diversity, with communities of color often being left behind. This time, we cannot afford to let history repeat itself.
It’s crucial to ensure that the benefits of this federal investment are not limited to a select few. We need a proactive approach to include underrepresented communities in this burgeoning tech ecosystem. This means forging partnerships with schools in predominantly African American neighborhoods to provide educational and training opportunities. It means creating mentorship programs and internship initiatives that open doors for our young talent. It means actively seeking African American entrepreneurs and businesses and providing them with the resources they need to thrive in the tech industry.
Furthermore, the goal should not merely be diversifying the workforce but also actively involving African American perspectives in the development of artificial intelligence and biotechnology. We bring unique insights and experiences to the table, and our inclusion is essential for creating equitable solutions that address the diverse needs of our communities.
The Baltimore tech hub must reflect the city’s diversity and history, and it should prioritize building bridges that connect all its residents to the opportunities it offers. We commend the Greater Baltimore Committee and its efforts to secure this hub for our city, but now it’s time to take a proactive approach to ensure that the benefits reach every corner of our community.
This designation is an opportunity for Baltimore to rewrite its narrative of exclusion and inequality. It’s a chance to bridge the gaps that have plagued our city for too long. Let’s seize this moment to ensure that this tech hub becomes a beacon of hope, opportunity, and progress for African Americans in Baltimore. Our future depends on it, and we must not be mere spectators but active participants in this transformative journey.