Why Rev. Jesse Jackson Is Taking On Silicon Valley

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Why you should care

Because when one of the most trenchant talkers on race in America says something about one of the most important industries in America — it’s probably worth listening to.

Often when we talk about race, we get a little generic. Which is why it’s easy to understand the initial reaction to the highly publicized comments Rev. Jesse Jackson has been making about Silicon Valley. If you haven’t caught them, they’re one loud callout to the tech industry for not adequately representing the full range of American talent. And the numbers Jackson is highlighting are surprising: at Apple, no black senior execs, and none on the board. Google: only one black senior exec (David Drummond, who is an investor in OZY); the board is all white. Oracle: no blacks on the board, no black senior execs. Take eBay, Facebook, Twitter: no blacks on any of those three boards.

Jesse speaking into mic on podium with reading glasses on

Source Neilson Barnard/Getty

When I sat down with the former two-time presidential candidate to hear his thoughts on this live, he hit on some interesting points. Namely, that the resources that generate Silicon Valley are collective resources: school systems, roads and infrastructure, national security, R&D tax breaks, and more — which means that racial diversity isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s a necessity, in Rev. Jackson’s eyes. (Sound a little like the you-didn’t-build-that rhythm that rocked part of the 2012 election?)

OZY’s been diving headfirst into an ongoing conversation about race and identity around the world. And what better place to dig into this conversation than in our own backyard, Silicon Valley? See for yourself what the former college quarterback and CNN host had to say when we got it straight from his mouth.

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