As in the 16th century, we are living through a paradigm shift that very few have noticed. As it happened then, only those who ventured to leave everything to cross to the other side were able to enjoy a radical change in their financial capacity and freedom. True, a freedom that meant mortgaging the future of the rest of the planet, especially the future of the descendants of the enslaved, colonized and "converts”.
If we move forward five centuries later, we see that things are still almost the same. With the incursion of Web 3.0, big companies and corporations have already made their moves towards their positioning and claiming of their piece of the cake while the virtual space is still not yet the mainstream norm, in order to make the maximum profit in the long term. But this is exactly the opposite of what the original creators of blockchains and decentralized networks intended in their Whitepapers (the project proposal where the vision and purpose is clearly stated). Bitcoin and Ethereum creators envisioned a different way of doing things in contrast to what exists today with the aid of technology: removing power and economic benefits from a few and distributing it to everyone. It was about transforming the long implemented 1500s parasitic relationship - where I get richer at your expense and in spite of you - into a new symbiotic relationship - if you benefit, I benefit, if you win, I win.
Nevertheless, financial freedom is a privilege that very few can claim, and in 2020, this was proven to be right. As a group, Black communities and African descendants around the globe are not included in this exclusive Financial Free VIP club, and are disproportionally affected (damn, I hate this term) during times of economic changes, downturns, and disruptions. As a matter of fact, we hold a very critical situation, since, for example, in the U.S. 6.7 million Black workers (42 percent of the Black labor force) currently hold jobs that could be subject to disruption by 2030. Many people who hold these jobs - such as cashiers, janitors, cooks and retail/salespeople- will need education or on-the-job training to develop new skills, since automatization has arrived, and it is not going anywhere; this is the bad side of technology. However, the good side -the opportunity to scale up financially without gatekeepers on the way- is a non-negligible, serious matter.
Unfortunately, there are only 1.200 Black-owned information technology businesses in the U.S. (versus 68.500 non-Black-owned businesses, i.e., 1.7%). As the industry continues to grow rapidly and transform other parts of the economy, the presence of Black tech entrepreneurs will be critical to ensuring that the information ecosystems and digital tools of the future are symbiotic and not parasitic tech enhanced. The dominance of the white males in the technological world could have serious consequences when the Metaverse comes along. One thing we don’t want is for the Black community to be left behind as the world enters this new frontier. And we have to be clear: technology is not neutral; technology is programmed by humans and the genesis of all programmed devices and intelligence nurtures itself from the initial coding and rationale behind it. With a tiny 7% of Black programming-related workers only in the U.S. (I am sure it is much lower worldwide), we cannot aspire to the creation of the future.
The permissionless feature of blockchain technology has allowed anyone interested to access early-stage high-growth projects without having to meet the wealth requirements of an accredited investor. The same could be said of the direct participation and management of large companies/communities with attractive, avant-garde, and social objectives. What if Black Business owners had an alternative path to start up riches? What if the 2 million formerly incarcerated Black Americans could now have the opportunity to start a business or be hired without running up against the obstacles of their past records? What if mobilizing funds for social justice, media diffusion, education or political campaigns took 5 days instead of 5 months or years? The door is open to all. Blockchain on the decentralized internet is changing discriminatory redlining and lending practices. Blockchain technology is an equalizer, a system that anyone can join to enjoy benefits of economic growth. Unbanked people can now set up a crypto wallet and become self-sufficient from day one. Many other culture-shifting innovations await us as more Black founders become comfortable relying on Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) or other crypto-native solutions to back their ventures.
Are you going to wait to hear about it in a few years when it will be impossible to jump on the technology bandwagon that will dominate every aspect of our daily lives, or would you rather take part in this revolution from the co-pilot's seat and steer the ship towards our interests, needs and aspirations? As in the story of the little red hen, whoever has not gathered, ground nor prepared the grain, cannot then demand to be given the bread fresh from the oven. Reparations will come, have no doubt about it; but meanwhile empowerment happens through action, not only prayer.