Our Mission: To release mathematically proficient, technologically savvy, and entrepreneurial-minded problem solvers into the global marketplace.
Our Three-Point Manifesto:
- Point #1: We value young Black men and recognize them as our future, and our present.
- Point #2: We believe that technology, while important for their development, is secondary to a relational framework of support and exploration.
- Point #3: We believe that, given the proper environment, they can compete and win in any and every sphere they enter.
We are helping young Black men thrive in the knowledge-based, tech-driven innovation economy, while maximizing their current educational opportunities. We want them to discover and build mentor relationships with other professional stakeholders in the tech sector, and transition their perspective about consumer technology from being passive consumers to becoming active producers.
Why this focus? The entrepreneurial underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in general — and Black boys in particular — threatens not only the future of the Black community, but of America’s global economic viability.
If you don’t believe that, consider the following.
The health and stability of the middle class is widely perceived to be a huge driver of national prosperity. In the United States, however, economic trends are eating away at the viability of the middle class, in part, because of technological advances. From NY Times professors David Autor and David Dorn:
Computerization has therefore fostered a polarization of employment, with job growth concentrated in both the highest- and lowest-paid occupations, while jobs in the middle have declined… [it’s] not reducing the quantity of jobs, but rather degrading the quality of jobs for a significant subset of workers. Demand for highly educated workers who excel in abstract tasks is robust, but the middle of the labor market, where the routine task-intensive jobs lie, is sagging… Workers without college education therefore concentrate in manual task-intensive jobs — like food services, cleaning and security — which are numerous but offer low wages, precarious job security and few prospects for upward mobility. This bifurcation of job opportunities has contributed to the historic rise in income inequality.
Well, you may be thinking, the middle class may be suffering, but education is the key to avoiding the trap of routine-task jobs with low wages.
Except today’s students across the board are not getting the same educational boost that previous generations once did, and as a result, aren’t receiving the same level of economic security. Most of the gains in national test scores and other quantitative indicators of educational aptitude are offset somewhat by the segregation of income. The highest performing schools, which receive a higher proportion of educational funding, are often in wealthier districts, with parents who are more capable of providing supplemental resources like tutoring, computers and tablets, high-speed internet, et cetera.
If this is bad news for middle class families in general, it’s even worse news for Black Americans. Consistent educational disparities in American public schools threaten our students’ chances of becoming commercially viable members of society, especially when they face so much bias in the disciplinary process. And even though funding is important, what we’re learning is that funding our schools is not enough. The providence of internet access with tablets or other devices optimized for learning… is not enough.
What our students need, and what Brothaman Tech wants to help provide, is something university researcher James Paul Gee refers to as an affinity space.
Affinity spaces are distinct from cultures or communities, in that they are places where people affiliate primarily on the basis of shared interests and goals, rather than on race, class, gender or ethnic groups. It’s less about identity, and more about activity. Affinity spaces, rather than requiring a strict attendance commitment, allow people to ebb and flow in participation according to their differing levels of involvement.
So in the tradition of other institutions of African-American life like barbershops, basketball courts, churches and jazz clubs, we want to augment the social sphere by combining a secure online platform with local established spaces for regular meet-up opportunities.
Brothaman Tech is:
- a space where Black men and boys can connect and bond over shared times of play and exploration
- a space where we can introduce and circulate a new vocabulary of technically and culturally relevant language that prepares them for digital citizenship
- a space where peer learning is prioritized alongside the typical teacher/student, mentor/protégé models
- a space where students are exposed to and supported in their pursuit of a variety of critical tech industry skills (advanced math, electronic design, software development, content production, et cetera)
- and most importantly, a space where celebration and encouragement are a regular part of the learning process, so that their smaller, tentative steps can become larger, substantial steps down the path to pursuing their dreams
In short, we want them to own this space, so that they can own their future. We’re creating the space we wanted to have when we were kids.
You see, if we’re successful with this, everybody wins. Our youth get an amazing place to learn, play, and hang out. Parents get a trusted partner to help prepare their sons for the future.
And what do we get? We will have proven that our kids can be successful in the 21st-century innovation economy if given the right tools and the right environment.
Brothaman Tech is that environment.