I’ve been following the situation in Ferguson pretty closely over the past 6 months. I’m not sure what happened between Mike Brown and Officer Darren Wilson. I think my sister-in-law said it best when she said that they probably both ended up operating from their “lizard brains” — adrenaline and emotions taking over — and the result was more violent than it otherwise might have been.
Whatever did happen on that August day, the subsequent events that unfolded brought a lot of issues to my attention. I obviously knew that black people in this country have a more difficult time, but I didn’t really understand the extent of the problem, and how systemic it is.
I believe that every kind of oppression needs to be stopped, and if it’s in my own back yard, then I should especially be willing to take a stand to stop it. So I’ve tried to figure out what I can do. I’ve gone to marches a few times. And while it feels good to help amplify the voices that aren’t being heard, I don’t feel like it has a very big effect. So I’ve struggled with how I can have a real impact.
Back in November, Alex Miller from Strange Loop tweeted a GoFundMe link called “Build Ferguson Youth Tech Program“. They wanted to raise money to teach underprivileged youth a course in web development. I immediately sent the organizer an email volunteering to help.
This past Saturday was the first class. There were 10 students, from about 17 to perhaps 24 years old. There were 8 mentors, a couple organizers, and a couple instructors. Each student was given a Mac laptop and we started teaching them HTML. It was a long day, but they got to learn how to put words on a web page, and made some good progress. Classes are Saturdays for the next 6 weeks, plus Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
I don’t know how much these kids are going to learn in 6 weeks. They certainly won’t be expert web developers. But that’s not really that important; what’s important is that they get the opportunity to become web developers if that’s a path that they’d like to pursue. Opportunity is what’s missing in these kids’ lives.
The other important thing is that I found my way to make an impact. (Perhaps not coincidentally, the workshop is called “Tech Impact”.) Thank you so much, Abby Bobé for organizing this. You made it really easy for me to find my way.
If you’d like to help, please sign up here.