Wanted: African-American Mobile App, Web Design Interns

Don Tennant
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Back in my Computerworld days, when I'd write about our annual IT salary survey, I would focus my attention on those facets of the survey findings that really intrigued me, like the demographics of the IT population that was surveyed. One of the perennial findings of the survey was that there was a disproportionately small percentage of African Americans among the IT professionals that constituted Computerworld's core readership, and that those African Americans on average were lower on the salary scale than their Caucasian and Asian counterparts. I would write about that fact, and if the reader commentary in response was any indication, very few people who weren't African American seemed to be too bothered by those findings.


As far as I can tell, not a whole lot has changed since then. So I tend to keep an eye out for cool things that people are doing to encourage young African Americans to pursue educations and careers in technology. One such cool development came to my attention by way of Kai Dupe, an entrepreneur, speaker and author of the Where Are Blacks In Technology? blog. Dupe recently wrote about an operation called Inky-Apps, which primarily develops applications for the Android market. Here's an excerpt from Dupe's blog about it:

Inky-Apps is one of America's first webstores dedicated to the promotion, advertisement and development of mobile applications for the undeveloped and undiscovered mobile markets. The site was created by Richard Fields, a true African American technology pioneer. Recently, I spoke with Richard regarding their search for interns and he had this to say:


"What I am trying to do is to pull in a couple of students [who are] African American, or Africans from the continent, or the African Diaspora to intern for Inky-Apps. Inky-Apps is now beginning to generate interest and traffic so I would like to pull in some folks. They do not have to be ivy; in fact, they can even be from a local [junior college]. I don't care. I am interested in folks who share the same vision and direction as Inky-Apps does, coupled with some experience with Android development or Java, Web design (HTML,XML) and Internet marketing. I am trying to find those who are majoring in either computer science, or a related field like Internet marketing."


I applaud Mr. Fields' efforts. This is exactly what is needed to not only develop future African American software engineering talent, but also to instill a sense of entrepreneurship. It is high time young African Americans begin to develop software that helps to solve the problems and address the needs of our community. I for one cannot wait to see the creativity of African Americans emerge in the realm of software applications.

Neither can I, and I'll add my applause for Fields' initiative. The descriptions of the internships are now posted on the Inky-Apps website. Do the IT community a favor and spread the word.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 5, 2011 11:29 AM libra4687 libra4687  says:

I understand what this company is trying to do, and I think it is great to promote diversity in the workplace.  However, what they are doing is ILLEGAL.  You can't ever say you are looking to hire someone of a specific race, ethnic group, religion, or gender for a job/internship unless it is a bona fide occupational qualification (such as saying a Priest must be Catholic). 

This company can be sued for discrimination by any non African-American who wants this internship.  I think they should take their ad down IMMEDIATELY.

Jul 5, 2011 12:32 PM Alexis Stodghill Alexis Stodghill  says:

THANK YOU for posting this and THANK YOU for your concern over the totally one-sided (for the most part) nature of the technology industry. There are many, many factors that contribute to the fact that far fewer blacks embrace the nuts and bolts coding side of the tech sector than other groups. Unfortunately -- to the first commenter -- when you have a situation as dire as this, a heavy-handed crow bar approach is needed to rectify a horrible situation.

The reason it is illegal is so that opportunities are not prevented from being extended to underserved people. This is a situation in which people are trying to seek out and find willing participants for opportunities that are missing whole swaths of the population of the world. It's silly to "protect" people with the laws meant to help them.  I totally see what you are saying, I am just commenting on the fact that the letter of the law could be used against those it means to help, without thinking about the underlying purpose.

I am telling you, no matter what, the Inky-Apps founder could say "No Whites Need Apply," and in the end he will end up hiring two white kids, one Asian kid, and he would be lucky to find a black or Latino kid. It's THAT BAD. The social, educational, and historical antecedents that have led us to this point are so stark that nothing short of insane tactics, I believe, will turn things around for many black kids. These kids are very smart, very creative, and deserve more, but need a ton more encouragement than other students. They deserve it. Society in many cases has let them down.

Plus, he's not saying he won't hire non-blacks, and speaking from experience, he will if he wants his company to run.  He just maintains an awareness of the social reality his company rests within, and is using it as a social tool to make things better.  I hope he is able to do this unmolested, law or no law.

Jul 5, 2011 1:40 PM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:

African Americans are also relatively quiet on their disproportionate omission from not only the IT ranks, but America's corporate back-offices in general (not to mention the board room).

Although we are starting to speak out more, for the longest time our profession was almost entirely silent on the offshoring of jobs and the guest worker visa issue.  Many have since found their voice - but still not enough.

One part of me believes that given the rampant apathy, maybe people deserve their situation.  If they don't care enough about their own situation to protest, why should we care?  The other part of me believes that somewhere in corporate America an African American group is protesting but the media just isn't listening. 

So which is it?  Are there African American groups raising their voices and being ignored by the media, or is it just a case of us "liberal white folks" showing undo concern?  Is Kai Dupe a lone voice or are there more?

Keep up the good fight Kai Dupe.  I hope that we are able to find whatever it is that will wake up the American people.  The problem isn't that they don't care about black people, working people, white people, or any other type of people.  The problem is that they just don't care.

Jul 8, 2011 4:30 PM Minister Dee Minister Dee  says: in response to libra4687

WE were all created equal, but somewhere along the way WE deceided to seperate. Encouragement is needed in our society today. Inky-Apps is simply encouraging  those that think because of the color of their skin they wont be given the opportunity to exhibit their God given gift, because this is what society has done to some of us of all race and nationality. But I wish Mr. Fields and Inky-Apps God's blessing and prosperity. Its time to change and if this is the opening lets us not close it. God Bless You All.

Jul 10, 2011 11:18 AM Richard F. Richard F.  says: in response to libra4687

Hello Libra and to you all... I want to first and foremost thank you for your support and the expression of your viewpoints on this urgent and timely manner.

As the founder of inky-apps, I only deem it appropriate to try and clear some things up here.

In today's world of online journalism and blogging, every one has an opinion..rightfully so. But remember, an opinion is not a fact. And here is where Libra your problem rest.

Have you taken the time to pay inky-apps a visit, check out what our mission is and 'read' the non-paid intern add? If not, you may want to do some fact checking before assuming a certain point of view.

But I truly appreciate your comments as stated earlier as well as the support from the others. This issue of Af-Am representation in the IT fields - or the lack there of - is not just bad for Af-Am's, but bad for the IT industry, and the US economy as a whole. A recent Gardner Group study showed that Af-Am and Latinos use more mobi-tech and social media then any other ethnic group. So they are a huge part of the mobi-tech market. - What inky-apps is trying to do is to move them from being a consumer of technology to becoming producers of technology.

And that takes skill and opportunity - which many Af-Am's I sadly have to say, do not have, at least as much as the other groups. If you do not believe it, just pay a visit to many of the silicon valley companies and new start-ups and you'll quickly see what I mean. Take it from me! Btw, this poor representation of Af Am and Latinos in the the SV is a new phenomenon. It was not this way back in the 70's and 80's and to a large part, even the 90's. I know, I worked in the SV for 20+ years as a CNE for top Fortune 100 companies down there and we were highly represented. It all changed with Y2K, which is another story for another time, but truly needs to be addressed.

I could go on, but there is much to do. So please pay us a visit. And keep the dialogue around this issue going. No doubt, its good for us all.

Thanks Much!

Richard Fields

Founder, inky-apps.com


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