Q. Tell me about yourself.
A: I’m a native Angeleno and have been fascinated with computers, video games and technology since I was 9 years old. I have over 20 years of interactive production and development experience. I've worked for Atari, AOL, Yahoo, Disney and JPL. I left JPL in 2017 to pursue a career in VR, which ultimately led to the creation of Esqapes.
Q. We have heard on social media and the news ways to solve systemic racism and police brutality. How do you think we can address this complex and multifaceted issue ?
Unfortunately this issue doesn’t have a “quick fix” or one-size-fits-all type of solution.
However, at the core there is a simple solution and it is integration. Even though Jim Crow is technically over, the US (and the world) remains fairly segregated through a number of different ways. Integration on a forced and functional level, is the only way people of different races will get to know, learn about and respect one another on a deeper level.
My pastor recently shared this statement, “Proximity breeds empathy and distance breeds suspicion” and I completely agree.
I went to an incredibly diverse high school and it made a lasting impact on me. I had friends of all races and backgrounds, which prepared me somewhat for college and eventually my career. However, this was done through the California Magnet program and busing. In other words, it was forced.
People may think that forcing these types of programs on people and communities is a bad thing and it encroaches on civil liberties, but the reality is if it wasn’t forced, it would rarely happen on its own. People are tribal by nature and when you’re a minority, the majority will always see you as “the other”. Unless you force the minority to spend significant portions of their life with “the other” they will naturally gravitate toward the comfort of the familiar. Affirmative action, integration and dedicated diversity programs will help change society.
Q. Are you hopeful for the future ? Why or why not ?
As a black man in 2020, I’m still a skeptic. Even though I enjoyed a very diverse upbringing in LA, the segregation is still so prevalent. I think the millennials and the younger generations are probably more integrated than previous generations, but I still see them repeating the same tribal behaviors.
Recent articles about diversity in Tech and investment show this to still be true. There are a lot of people that empathize and understand that racism must go away, however their actions must be long term to affect real change.
(Editor's Note: Micah is a friend and former co-worker. I am sharing his recent essay he posted on LinkedIn below. It was eye opening to learn about the VC world and what he went through as a Black business owner. Image courtesy of Micah.)
Black Man/Black Founder - Thoughts
By Micah Jackson
(Reposted with permission. First published on LinkedIn 06/02/20)