All Articles Tagged "policy"

Behind The Click: Erin Horne Montgomery Advocates for People of Color in the Digital Arena

November 1st, 2012 - By Lauren DeLisa Coleman
Share to Twitter Email This


Ready for another one of my “Behind The Click” profiles? I’m particularly interested to bring you this column on someone who’s making a contribution to the tech arena in a way which I don’t normally cover. Erin Horne Montgomery serves as the president and executive director of the National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs. NAMDE advocates for, unites and promotes the interests of diverse companies, organizations, individuals and entities within the technology and broadband market industries.

Given the imbalance oftentimes in the tech arena, an organization such as NAMDE is important to have at your fingertips. But Erin, like many women, easily multitasks.  She is also a graduate researcher at Howard University studying the participation of women and minority entrepreneurs in the innovation economy.

In the words of Slick Rick, “Here we go…”

Current Occupation:

Executive Director, National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs (NAMDE)

Favorite website:

Favorite read

The Information Society and the Black Community by John T. Barber and Alice A. Tait

Recent read

2012′s ultimate goal: 

To launch NAMDE’s app to better connect women and minority digital entrepreneurs.

Quote Governing Your Mission or a Quote that Inspires You:

“Entrepreneurs do MORE than anyone thinks possible, with LESS than anyone thinks possible.” ~John Doerr

Twitter handle: @namdedotorg

LdC:  So, Erin, you are a graduate researcher at Howard, but you also did undegrad work there. How did you select Howard  and how did you like it? 

EHM: One of my favorite teachers in high school recommended Howard to me. I later found out that a lot of my family members attended HU as well. After that, I wasn’t interested in going to any other school.

I loved my experience at Howard. It positively shaped my career, my network, and who I am today.
LdC: What initially lead to your interest in tech?

EMH: My initial interest in tech came in the late 90s when one of my long-time mentors in entrepreneurship co-founded a start-up in Northern Virginia. He encouraged me to get active in this space.

The most significant position in this arena that I’ve held since college would be the role I’m in now. I’ve worked with tech companies in other capacities. However, I’m currently making the greatest impact on the industry by ensuring our inclusion in the innovation economy.
LdC:  What made you decide to transition from the profit to nonprofit world in the tech arena?
EMH: I’ve worked with other nonprofits in the past, and both of those experiences were related to the issue of diversity. This role was a natural progression from those positions. Also, I’m extremely passionate about our work and the cause we represent. I wish we didn’t have to still face these issues in 2012, but we do and I’m prepared to be a strong advocate for change.

LdC:  In the past you did a lot of telecommunications policy and research work within a specific area of the Department of Commerce. What was that like?

EMH: Working with National Telecommunications and Information Administration was a phenomenal experience. I had a wonderful mentor in my supervisor, and I was able to learn a great deal first-hand how to impact policy.

LdC: And given all your experience,  what would you say has been your biggest challenge in your career thus far, particularly as a woman of color? 
EMH: I think the biggest challenge has been being respected and accepted as an equal. Being a woman, a mother, a minority, or coming from a different field of expertise does not mean that I don’t have something valuable to contribute. I have met these challenges by remembering that I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t an authority on the subject in some capacity, and I use that confidence and self-awareness to not be afraid of my own potential.
LdC: So, what is a typical day like for you as head of NAMDE?

EMH: My day usually starts with the reviewing of news stories online and tweeting topics of interest to our followers. Then I’m usually headed to a conference or meeting related to our issues. I also try to squeeze in some calls or emails to plan future NAMDE projects and events.

LdC:  As an advocate, what is your biggest concern regarding telecommunications policy and people of color?

EHM: My biggest concern is that our community is being left behind in the innovation economy, from ownership to participation. I’m truly concerned about the long-term negative impacts on our community’s generational wealth potential.

LdC:  What do you think are some of the biggest challenges black tech entrepreneurs face today ? 

EMH: Two of the biggest challenges black tech entrepreneurs face today are access to capital and access to the startup ecosystem. We’re almost completely excluded from both. How can one create a company, grow, and compete against other companies in this space when the resources available are limited and not equitable?

LdC:  So true!  Luckily this organization exists to start making even greater change.  What are your goals for 2013 for NAMDE?
EMH: To grow our membership and to see positive results from our efforts. When we have helped to create a large and stable base of minority-owned companies in this space that better reflect the diversity of this country, then we will know we are making progress.

You heard it here, ladies! Don’t miss the next profile.  In the meantime, stay up on even more tech news now as it pertains to pop culture via my new Twitter handle @ultraLdC.

Does Facebook Have A Problem With Women?

June 7th, 2012 - By Charing Ball
Share to Twitter Email This


A picture of a nude captured African woman being trophied around by a white man has been deemed too explicit for Facebook.

NO one knows for sure the identity of the people in the photo, the origins of the photo or if it is even real. However it has spread through the newsfeeds of many black users of the social networking site for the last week – that was until Facebook abruptly took it down. I first saw the photo earlier this week when fellow Facebook friend, local attorney and activist Michael Coard shared the photo from one of his friends.  The image is both striking and haunting, offering up all sorts of commentary about the objectification of black women, our bodies both past and present. And according to Philadelphia Magazine, which first picked up the story, before the image was removed the photo generated dozens of comments and shares.

The author of the Philly Magazine piece contacted Facebook, which responded back to the request by saying, “The company does not “make any exemptions for nudity due to an image’s documentary context.” The statement went on to explain Facebook’s official terms.

“You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” But Facebook’s own Community Standards page makes it clear that there are, in fact, some exceptions to its nudity rule, such as a photo of “a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”

Coard believes that Facebook’s Community Standards policies might be a bit racially insensitive and verging on censorship. However, in the same week that Facebook went public, the company banned the photos of one grieving mother’s deceased infant son, who was born with a rare disorder, Anencephaly, which prevents the brain from developing. Likewise, the site social networking site banned several photographs of a woman showing the scars from her triumphant defeat of breast cancer for being ‘pornography’.  And most recently, about 60 protestors gathered at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. and staged a nurse-in to rally against the widespread censorship of photos showing mother’s nursing.

So while the removal of the picture of the nude African woman might have some racial components to it, I think what is much more prevalent is how easily Facebook can deem any part of the female form (including childbirth, which is usually associated with womanhood) pornographic, regardless of the context.  The same site, which allowed “pro-rape” joke groups to remain active for several months (and only be removed after intense public pressure), now has a no-tolerance policy to breastfeeding moms and historical images of nude African women as captives. All of this makes it appear that Facebook not only hasn’t figured out how to differentiate between pornographic and healthy exploration of the female form but how inadequate it has been in taking their own rules regarding violent statements and possible criminal behavior against women seriously.

For a social networking site built on the concept that it’s users live to be an open book for the world to view and share alike, Facebook certainly appears repressive when it comes to certain aspects of a person’s life, particularly those involving the fairer sex. So what do you all think? Is Facebook Community Standards policy justified in the removal of pictures they deem offensive such as women breastfeeding or nude African female captives? Or does the social networking site have issues with women?

Girl Scout Calls for Cookie Ban Due to Transgender Policy

January 13th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
Share to Twitter Email This

In a passionate YouTube video that’s now been made private, a California teenager is attempting to spark a nationwide boycott of Girl Scout cookies as a result of the organization allowing a 7-year-old transgender child to join a Colorado troop this past fall.

The girl, identified as Taylor, claims to have been a Girl Scout for eight years and says her organization is using proceeds from sales of the cookies to “[promote] the desires of a small handful of people,” saying:

“Right now, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A…is not being honest with us girls, its troops, its leaders, its parents or the American public. Girl Scouts describes itself as an all-girl experience. With that label, families trust that the girls will be in an environment that is not only nurturing and sensitive to girls’ needs, but also safe for girls. I am asking you to take action with me and boycott Girl Scout Cookies.”

Considering Taylor’s message has now been blocked, I’m assuming the head Girl Scout troopers got to her, but it’s interesting that she can be silenced all while the organization refuses to allow the concerns of the LGBTQ community to go unheard. Many people were extremely upset when transgender child Bobby Montoya was admitted to a Colorado troop last year, prompting the resignation of three Scout leaders in Louisiana who also dissolved their troops. But in a statement released by the Girl Scouts of Colorado through the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation they wrote, “If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.”

What do you think about Taylor’s call for a national boycott of Girl Scout cookies? Do you agree with the organization’s policy to permit transgender girls to join?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

More on Madame Noire!

Will an Anti-Hazing Law Make Any Difference?

December 28th, 2011 - By Brande Victorian
Share to Twitter Email This

Moved by the recent death of Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson says she plans to introduce a federal anti-hazing bill when Congress returns from its holiday break next month.

In Champion’s case, police say he was punched and paddled in a hazing ritual during the school’s Marching 100 band trip to the annual Florida Classic in Orlando. An autopsy report showed that the 26-year-old’s “muscles were beaten so badly that they were destroyed like you would see in a heart attack.” So far, the Marching 100 has been suspended from all activities and its director placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s investigation but Wilson says overall, hazing is demeaning, dangerous, deadly, and needs to be stopped.

The question is whether a law would do any good? Most colleges and universities have policies prohibiting hazing as a means of granting students entrance into fraternities, sororities, and other campus organizations yet the practice still goes on. Some groups get suspended for a semester, maybe even a year, but when the next opportunity rolls around, hazing resumes and vows of silence and solidarity amongst members of these groups keep such practices from being openly exposed although the activity is well-known. So what good would a law do? It could ensure those who are caught hazing endure much stricter punishments, but for any practical change to come about, leaders of these organizations have to take a stance against hazing and truly desire to create alternative means of ushering in new members to a group that don’t threaten their well-being. As long as group members see hazing as a method of proving worth and loyalty, they will just find sneakier ways to go about it.

Do you think an anti-hazing law would stop this activity on college campuses?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

More on Madame Noire!

Revisiting the “Culture of Poverty”

October 28th, 2010 - By TheEditor
Share to Twitter Email This

We do have role models but if we spend all our time studying the deviants, the abnormal, the devastated, the destroyed, the destitute, the desecrated, then we’ll end up with the image of a destitute, desecrated, destroyed image of the black man. If we want to know how to survive, let’s look at the images of those who did survive.–Dr. Na’im Akbar

The article by Patricia Cohen in the New York Times a little over a week ago entitled the “Culture of Poverty Makes a Comeback” forced me to pause and examine why this school of thought has currency.  Conservatives are strong proponents of this social theory, which distills various unflattering hypotheses regarding the cycle of poverty and the poor.  The theory advances the proposition that the poor have embraced a particular system of mores (pathological) which perpetuate the cycle of poverty.  Implicit in this theory is the belief that the poor are beyond helping and government programs and policies geared to ameliorate the ravages of poverty are useless.

In the article, Harvard Sociologist Ralph J. Sampson attempts to illustrate the pathology of the poor by advancing the “broken window theory.”  He described his research study, which involved walking in various neighborhoods in the summer months in Chicago and dropping stamped addressed envelopes to see if the lost letters would be mailed.  His premise is that the poor have no sense of community as mailing the letters would display a positive community culture.

Where he chooses to drop the addressed stamped envelopes to see if they would be returned reminds me of the book by Joyce A. Ladner entitled “The Death of White Sociology”.  I will connect Dr. Ladner’s book to the discussion shortly.
Dr. Sampson drops the stamped envelopes on Grand Boulevard where the Robert Taylor Homes Housing Project were and in affluent communities.

Having lived in Chicago and being familiar with this area (Robert Taylor Homes), the lack of mailboxes or a post office in this neighborhood would pretty much guarantee that the letters would not get mailed.  Prof. Sampson gleans from the fact the letters were not mailed that the community’s cultural norms are deficient, moral cynicism is pervasive and disorder is common place.

Prof. Sampson does not discuss whether the communities had the same number of mailboxes or if they had a post office near the old Robert Taylor Homes.  Personally, his study would have more credibility if he had discussed this aspect of his research.

Subsequently, studies like Professor Sampson’s fuel bureaucrats and conservatives who believe that minorities cannot learn; they are lazy and are criminally prone.  As a result of these types of studies, bureaucrats justify their policies which refuse money from the federal government to direct toward educational programs such as Headstart.  These same bureaucrats turn a deaf ear to the disproportionate incarceration of minorities, the high unemployment rate of minorities, and the achievement gap and other social indicators which describe the health of minority communities. Their mantra is that they have thrown billions of dollars to help these minority communities and they still lag too far behind to help.

Given that the ‘culture of poverty’ social theory has made a comeback, it is time for “the death of white sociology” movement to make a comeback to combat studies such as Professor Sampson’s.  As Lerone Bennett points out in the book “The Death of White Sociology”, “It is necessary for us to develop a new frame of reference which transcends the limits of white concepts”.  Moreover,  Bennett underscores the inimical impact of allowing the reality of the poor to be conceptualized by a small minority of white men in Europe and North America.

Ladner ascribes the distortion of African American culture to white sociologists like Professor Sampson.   These negative conceptualizations of blacks have been passed down through history by white sociologists.  Furthermore, when white sociologists such as Professor Sampson study African Americans they study us through the lens of us being disorganized, pathological, and an aberrant group.  Ladner contends “The myths of cultural deprivation, innate inferiority, social disadvantagement, and pathology characterize the writings of many sociologists up to our present time”.  Professor Sampson continues the legacy of white sociology.

We need a serious discussion which does not always define African Americans as perpetrators and creators of social pathology and not its victims according to Ladner. Consequently, white sociologists are affected by the historical roots of psychology and the book “Even the Rat Was White: A Historical View of Psychology” reinforces Ladner’s call as to why white sociology must not have a rebirth.

Byron E. Price is an Associate Professor of Political Science in the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University and the author of Merchandizing Prisoners: Who Really Pays for Prison Privatization?

Obama HIV/AIDS Plan Calls For Reducing Infections

July 13th, 2010 - By TheEditor
Share to Twitter Email This

(BET) — President Barack Obama is announcing a new national strategy for combatting HIV and AIDS aimed at helping reduce the number of infections and providing those living with the virus high-quality care free from stigma or discrimination. The strategy calls for reducing the rate of new HIV infectionsby 25 percent over the next five years, and for getting treatment to 85 percent of patients within three months of their diagnosis.

Read More…

President Obama’s Policy Time Bombs

July 12th, 2010 - By TheEditor
Share to Twitter Email This

(Politico) — President Barack Obama has long boasted about the transformative change he’s bringing to the country. But by the time those reforms finally arrive, he could be long gone from the White House. Some of Obama’s biggest promises won’t go into effect until long after his first term — and in some cases, well past a second. In fact, buried deep within some of the Democrats’ most significant reform bills are dozens of policy time bombs set to blow at more politically convenient times.

Read More…

Why Doesn't America Want To Cure Cancer?

May 19th, 2010 - By TheEditor
Share to Twitter Email This

(Huffington Post) — I’m posing a new challenge to the educational system of the United States: cancer. I believe we can cure cancer. If we re-direct all of our resources to defeating cancer once and for all by demanding that every child develop the math, science and technology skills necessary to become an oncologist, to become a researcher, to become the genius she or he was meant to be, we’re going to cure cancer. If we defied the odds and made it to the moon, I know America can cure cancer, too, before the end of this century.

Read More…

New Drug Control Strategy Signals Policy Shift

May 12th, 2010 - By TheEditor
Share to Twitter Email This

( — Four decades after President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs,” the White House on Tuesday announced a shift in national drug policy that would treat illegal drug use more as a public health issue and plunge more resources into prevention and treatment. The new drug control strategy boosts community-based anti-drug programs, encourages health care providers to screen for drug problems before addiction sets in and expands treatment beyond specialty centers to mainstream health care facilities.

Read More…

Why Mortgage Lenders Charge Overages, and Why They May Stop

March 26th, 2010 - By TheEditor
Share to Twitter Email This

Bank of America earlier this year delivered the following message to its loan officers: “Policy Change: Effective with initial locks on or after Jan. 21, 2010, overages will not be allowed on either purchase or refinance transactions.”

Read More…