In the TedTalk “Why I Fight to Close the Digital Divide?,” Mignon Clyburn argues that a Digital Civil Rights Bill is necessary to ensure broadband internet access for all Americans in order to close the digital divide.
Clyburn compares the personal example of her grandmother, who was not able to receive a high school education in South Carolina because of her race, to the limiting effects that the lack of broadband internet access has on communities today. Clyburn also points out that the least connected counties in America have the highest rate of chronic disease. She said rural areas are 10 times more likely to have low broadband penetration than their urban counterparts and 24 million U.S. citizens that do not have access to broadband at home. According to Clybrun, this creates a “lasting negative legacy” similar to the limitations that halted her grandmother’s education. The ability of the internet to connect and inform is why Clyburn says that broadband internet access is the greatest equalizer of our time. “The only way to get rid of the negative vestiges of Plessy and other limiting laws and policies is to create an equal playing field that only a targeted, intentional law would provide,” she argues.
I have certainly taken my access to education and the internet for granted in the past. Through this talk Clyburn opened my eyes to how the lack of widespread access to the internet may be repeating historical harms against marginalized communities in America. She has definitely convinced me that government intervention in the form of a Digital Civil Rights Bill is a necessary step in order to equalize communities and close the historical digital divide.
2 thoughts on “Why I Fight to Close the Digital Divide? – Alana Bonfiglio 11/11”
I think it’s very smart how Mignon Clyburn speaks about the digital divide by comparing it to something so impactful and unjust as being denied something because of the color of your skin during the civil rights movement. By doing this, it allows people to view the divide with a much better understanding of how its impacting people within our society. While I never put the two together, it makes complete sense and I agree with Clyburn in that there should be Digital Civil Rights Bill.
Clyburn definitely brings a unique experience to justify the idea that a digital civil rights bill is needed in order to ensure that technology is and will always be, regardless of the circumstance, the greatest equalizer of all time. Her story about her grandmother and the emotions she felt when confronted by the fact that because she was a different race, she was automatically lagging behind her peers educationally is something that needs to be fixed for society. And although we have made some very significant headway, there are always going to be limitations and disparities unless something like a digital civil rights bill is passed.