Google Fiber hits Kansas City's high racial learning curve
The Kansas City Star
The most telling aspect of Kansas City that the Google Fiber team has encountered has been a denial by many people here that a digital divide exists between black and white neighborhoods and those that are wealthier and poor.
But it is real just as racism, classism and white privilege in the Kansas City area are real. Fortunately the Google Fiber team, not being from here, can see the have-and-have-not problem clearly.
It also plans to do what it can to bridge the information superhighway gap, bringing its high-speed fiber network to historically underserved black, Latino and poor neighborhoods. With better connections, people long shut out of information, better paying jobs, education and opportunities, will see things equalized more in their favor.
“It’s something that’s extremely important to us,” Kevin Lo, Google Fiber project manager, told The Star’s editorial board Wednesday. “No one entity can solve the digital divide.”
But it is great that the Google Fiber team accepts its role to help narrow the gap. Lo said 25 percent of Kansas Citians don’t have broadband at home, and 17 percent don’t use the Internet at all. The problem is fed by race, income, education, computer access and digital literacy.
It is fantastic that Google Fiber brings hope to areas long left with only despair. After the Sunday deadline to preregister for Google Fiber, work will begin first in Kansas City, Kan., neighorhoods. Kansas City communities will be connected starting in 2013. This has the potential to be an economic development tool to attract businesses and people who fled the city to come back.