Written by Joel Dreyfuss, The Root
Soledad O'Brien's latest chapter in her Black in America series has caused a huge uproar even before the episode airs on Nov. 13. In her continuing exploration of the nooks and crannies of African-American life, O'Brien has taken on Silicon Valley, which sees itself as a model of meritocracy.
The episode, "The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley," follows a group of African-American entrepreneurs who join an "incubator" called NewMe, led by BlackWeb 2.0 founder Angela Benton (a Root 100 2010 honoree), and spend nine weeks living in a house in Silicon Valley, preparing to present their Internet startups to potential investors. In the process, O'Brien asks why so few black entrepreneurs have emerged from America's tech bastion.
The controversy has largely been triggered by comments in the documentary by Michael Arrington, founder of the influential startup showcase TechCrunch, who declares that he doesn't know a single black entrepreneur in Silicon Valley and adds that if he found one, he'd give him a platform without regard to the merits of his company. Previews of his comments set off a spirited -- and often racially tinged -- debate about whether Silicon Valley is as colorblind as it likes to think it is.
Read the rest at The Root