The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and AT&T are combining resources to bridge the gap in internet access between white people and blacks and Hispanics. The two organizations have partnered to create technology centers in twenty cities that will provide computer training and internet courses.
“The technology segregation known as the ‘digital divide’ must be narrowed,” NAACP President Kweisi Mfume recently stated. In July, a Commerce Department report, “Falling through the Net,” said the gap in knowledge of computer technology between whites and certain minorities is growing.
The report found that while 47 percent of whites own computers, fewer than half as many blacks do. About 25.5 percent of Hispanics own computers, but 55 percent of Asians do. Asian families also have the highest rate of internet access, with 36 percent online.
The study also showed that a child from a low-income white household is three times more likely to have internet access than a comparable black child and four times more likely than a Hispanic child. However, income level is not the sole cause of the disparity, since in families earning between $15,000 to $35,000, more than 33 percent of whites had computers while only 17 percent of black families did.
NAACP spokeswoman Sheila Douglas estimated the technology center project will cost about $300,000. Several corporate sponsors also are contributing to the project. Ameritech Corp. and the National Urban League have committed $350,000 to building centers in Aurora, Ill., Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee. 3Com Corp. has pledged $1 million in donated equipment and training in ten additional cities.