ISSUES & NEWS

Net Neutrality: What happens next?

 

The FCC’s decision to eliminate Net Neutrality protections is a devastating blow to communities of color. This decision will increase costs, diminish diverse participation and make it extremely difficult to politically organize on the Internet. Creators, entrepreneurs, and consumers that depend on the Internet for information and market access will be severely impacted.

Full Color Future and our partners have drafted a petition asking Congress to reject the FCC’s decision and to reinstate the open Internet rules that have helped preserve this powerful tool for justice and progress.

 

LETTER TO CONGRESS ON BEHALF OF THE UNDERSIGNED

We urge Congress to preserve an open Internet by overturning the Federal Communication Commission’s decision to end Net Neutrality protections. Net Neutrality and the open Internet has empowered communities of color with unprecedented new opportunities in self-expression, entrepreneurship, innovation, political participation, education, employment, housing, healthcare, racial justice, and many other vital human needs.

To put it simply, the open Internet has been the great equalizer that gives everyone a fair chance to participate. By gutting Net Neutrality rules, The Trump FCC has sent a clear message about their contempt for Internet freedom.

The elimination of Net Neutrality protections represents an imminent and unacceptable threat to the interests of communities of color. The FCC’s repeal of Net Neutrality serves only to perpetuate the institutional and structural discrimination that currently exists in this country. Access to an open Internet, free from gatekeepers and profit-driven censorship, is essential to ensuring that communities of color have a platform to tell their stories and engage in twenty-first century communications.

It is no secret that without the protection of Net Neutrality, communities of color will suffer. The open Internet is an onramp to success for minorities, allowing innovators space to design and sell new products without a manufacturing deal or content creators to tell diverse and vibrant stories without traditional, complicated broadcasting contracts. Not only does the open Internet level the playing field, but it is also a pathway into society with access to basic government benefits, higher education, and job applications.

We respectfully request that you reinstate vigorous Net Neutrality rules and preserve the 2015 Open Internet Order that empowered people of color to speak and be heard online.

Sincerely,
Brian Woolfolk // Executive Director, Full Color Future
Daiquiri Ryan // Policy Fellow, Public Knowledge
Carmen Scurato // National Hispanic Media Coalition

SEE THE FUTURE: Creativity, Content, and News

Communities of color appreciate the important programming that our iconic channels have brought (and continue to bring) to our television screens for years.

But we know that it’s going to take a lot more space to contain our boundless creativity, the diverse stories we are longing to tell, and the expressive work that many of us are already driving on new platforms including Blavity, Mitu and YouTube.

From the “black Netflix” to “Cholos Try,” to the rags to riches story of Issa Rae’s Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl to HBO’s Insecure, we are proving that we have an audience hungry for our content.

And it’s not just entertainment — we’ve been fighting for media representation that allows us to share information accurately and completely since our nation’s beginnings. It was the WLBT-TV case brought by the United Church of Christ Office of Communications and the NAACP, arguing that there is a public interest in the ownership and content of broadcast television. It was the rise of the ethnic printed press. It was the birth of associations to represent the journalists of color who needed support to flourish in the newsroom.  

Today it’s all of that, but it’s also the Angry Asian Man, and the VerySmartBrothas, and Latina.com. It’s Politically Re-Active, and Stuff Mom Never Told You, and Black Joy Mixtape. The internet has opened up unprecedented means for communities of color to share news and information in a culturally-relevant, rich and whole manner.

Diverse content is compelling and in demand around the world.  We have an obligation to ensure its free passage to the marketplace. Media ecosystems matter and will work to ensure continued access and opportunity.

In addition, controlling our image and representation is fundamental to our progress.  We believe that access to accurate news and information isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

We believe that access to accurate news and information isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. WE WORK TO:

  • Protect free expression online and oppose limitations on speech and creativity

     

  • Oppose any policies that incentivize platforms to limit the expression of creators

     

  • Provide visibility for talented creators still building their audience and business

     

  • Educate creators about their rights to fair use, to IP protection and the policies that impact their business

SEE THE FUTURE: Access to Knowledge and Information

Online, the world is at our fingertips.

Online, reductive depictions of the enormous continent of Africa have been replaced. By Instagram accounts like EverydayAfrica, which shows the beauty of ordinary people; by sites like travelnoire, part of a growing business providing curated trips to the continent for Americans looking to experience their motherland; by shopping destinations like zuvaa.com, an online marketplace for contemporary African fashion.

American Indian tribes are reclaiming their right to tell the stories of their history and people, like “The 1491’s” and their half a million YouTube subscribers.

Books that were only available if you lived closed to a great library or if you were a collector, are now available to anyone who can get online. VR and other technologies allow us to explore beneath the ocean, in the air, or even experience the profound isolation of solitary confinement.

Yet accessing these riches, and building these communities, requires access to the broadband that makes it possible. Even with the e-rate program that helps classrooms and libraries offer internet, even with smartphones making mobile internet increasingly possible and necessary, and even though the majority of people of color in the US are online, those of us who lack access are at an unacceptable deficit.  

We celebrate leaders like those who founded Black Girls Code, Technolochicas and Latinas in STEM, to bring more opportunity and examples of successful women of color into the classroom.

Even in this area of the e-reader, librarians know that libraries are always busy.  There’s the traditional experience of learning to love and discover books inside a quiet and well-curated building. But we’re also seeing tremendous demand for the free internet access that libraries provide. Even though the majority of people of color in the US are online, we know that there are still communities and individuals that lack sufficient access to the broadband necessary to truly leverage the benefits of the internet.

WE WORK TO:

  • Ensure access to universal broadband, so our communities can access the content of their choice, and develop the content of their choice

  • Support 21st century K-12 education and supplementary programs and continuing education to ensure children and adults have the ability to fully participate in the digital economy

  • Advance policies that promote the accessibility of information to the broadest possible audience

  • Encourage new technologies that will bring more high speed broadband access to all Americans

SEE THE FUTURE: Social Justice

Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei said it beautifully. He described the power of the internet as “…a tree that is growing.  The people will always have the last word – even if someone has a very weak quiet voice…power will collapse because of a whisper.”  Civil Rights icon and Congressman John Lewis expressed it this way, “If we had the technology, if we had the internet during the movement, we could have done more, much more, to bring people together from all around the country, to organize and work together to build the beloved community.”

At the heart of movements for social justice is a vision of beloved community – a welcoming society that makes space for every person to live in safety, security and with the ability to innovate and thrive.  Whether we are describing the hashtag campaigns that grew the Movement for Black Lives, added momentum to the DREAMers, or spurred on the Women’s March; or the use of smartphone cameras and facebook live to document the realities of oppressive experiences for people of color; or the narrative change storytelling of YouTube Creators from all backgrounds – internet platforms have birthed, expanded and made social justice efforts not only possible, but global in their implications.

We are committed to protecting the ecosystem upon which these systems were built and to empowering the leaders that built them. WE WORK TO:

  • Promote a free and open internet

     

  • Uplift voices that push back to counter online content that is hateful or offensive

     

  • Engage leaders that are leveraging technology to solve social justice challenges

     

  • Act as ambassadors for safe and secure experiences online, particularly for communities that have suffered from over-surveillance

SEE THE FUTURE: Economic Growth

Recent research by the Joint Center for Political and Economic studies shows that when communities of color leverage technology in their business strategy, their businesses grow.  Whether you are a Jessica Matthews, building kinetic energy through soccer balls; or an Ana Bermudez making it easy for consumers to shop for the clothes and accessories their favorite celebrities are wearing while they are watching television; or a brick and mortar business owner like Cacique or Gotta Go Now using mapping and data analytics to expand your customer base and improve the efficiency of your operations — technology makes a difference.

Too often, the story of entrepreneurs and technology is a story that begins and ends with diversity numbers in Silicon Valley. We are committed to promoting a tech workforce that reflects the diversity of our nation, but the truth is that there is more to this story. Visionaries of all backgrounds are bringing their creativity and technology together to create businesses that epitomize the best in diverse-owned business: they meet market needs, they employ people of color, they build wealth in communities that are too-often economically disadvantaged.

  • Chrissa McFarlane, Founder of Patientory, which met its funding goal of more than $7M in just three days to meet a market need for blockchain-powered security in medical records

  • Angel Rich, Creator of Credit Stacker, a massively popular mobile app that uses accessible game mechanics to help users learn about financial literacy and planning

  • Dallas Goldtooth, comedian and founder of the 1491’s, a comedy collective that builds a new narrative around the American Indian experience reaching nearly half a million subscribers

  • Cristina Jímenez Moreta, founder of United We Dream and 2017 Macarthur Genius Fellow, whose advocacy vision has enabled America’s most vulnerable to connect, organize, and tell a far-reaching story about the pivotal role of DREAMers in communities across the country

We are committed to telling the whole story of tech entrepreneurship to center these leaders so that their products and their counsel, ensure the best results for our communities, our nation, and our world. WE WORK TO:

  • Advance policies that increase access to funding and market access to grow small and diverse businesses

  • Preserve an open internet and the systems which lower barriers to entry and allow all entrepreneurs to identify and sell to the marketplace

  • Ensure that business owners and entrepreneurs have access to the digital skills and tools they need to grow their businesses

  • Guarantee that people of color enjoy full participation in every sector of the tech economy: finance, deals, workforce, c-suites, boards, innovation adoption and contracting