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Van Jones: 'Black Panther' is a revelation

Every once in a while, a movie arrives right on time.Earlier this year President Trump insulted people of Afri...

Posted: Feb 16, 2018 9:02 PM
Updated: Feb 16, 2018 9:02 PM

Every once in a while, a movie arrives right on time.

Earlier this year President Trump insulted people of African heritage when he referred to Haiti and African nations as "shithole countries." His words were an affront to countless Americans and people across the world; they flew in the face of American values of respect for diversity and opening doors of opportunity to all.

But while the White House is putting down people of African descent, Hollywood is lifting us up -- most spectacularly through the release of Disney-Marvel's new movie, "Black Panther."

"Black Panther" is a long-awaited film. It brings to life a technologically advanced, culturally rich mecca of black excellence. It takes place in Wakanda -- a fictional, fully autonomous African nation, rich in resources and innovation.

The nation is home to a brilliant ecosystem of black technologists. It is a sight to behold. A cinematic vision of black genius, accomplishment and prosperity that is rarely portrayed. And one I am so excited to witness.

I had the privilege of watching the film while seated in front of Denzel Washington, beside Whoopi Goldberg and in the company of almost every major black actor and celebrity on the east coast: Chris Rock, Gayle King, Tyra Banks, Robin Roberts and more. Denzel was moved to tears by the movie, said he felt like a proud father, and predicted it would make a billion dollars.

This film is a godsend that will lift the self-esteem of black children in the US and around the world for a long time. It shifts the understanding of where the power of African-descended people can come from. It underscores the fact that such power, in the new century, will come from access to technology more than any other source, and will inspire young people of color to pursue technology as a possible career path.

The film also manages to be radically pro-woman without being in the least bit anti-male. And will therefore give young women and men a reason to believe in themselves and their own capacity.

There's good reason for them to think this. Indeed, President Trump might be shocked to learn that parts of real-life Africa, like the fictional Wakanda, are rapidly becoming centers of high-tech innovation.

Some of the biggest tech companies, including Google and Facebook, have expanded their offices to Africa. African companies and entrepreneurs (from Kenya, Nigeria and elsewhere) are global leaders in facilitating e-commerce and internet access. In fact, today there are 314 active tech hubs in 93 countries across Africa.

And in the US, African immigrants employ large numbers of American workers in startups and projects in local tech hubs from coast to coast. In fact, Nigerian immigrants are better educated than white Americans -- by far.

According to the US Census Bureau, 43% of African immigrants have college degrees, compared with 23% of the general US population. And nearly two-thirds of Nigerian immigrants in particular have earned college degrees.

They are part of the rising generation of both African and African-American technologists in the United States.

There are so many extraordinary groups right here working to open up opportunities for the people that look like those represented in Wakanda. These groups include AI4All (Artificial Intelligence for All), the Hidden Genius Project, Code 2040 and Black Girls Code -- and that's just a piece of it.

Personally, I had the privilege of founding #YesWeCode with Prince in 2014. The initiative came straight out of Prince's imagination: What if kids from the hood could upload apps instead of just downloading them? So, we got to work.

#YesWeCode has since partnered with the Opportunity Hub in Atlanta to put together a $6 million scholarship for underrepresented youth to pursue coding and other tech skills at We Can Code IT, Code Fellows, Thinkful, and Treehouse. And in 2017, we were able to support 100 young people to realize their dreams of becoming software developers.

We Americans find ourselves at a pivotal moment. On one hand we have our Commander-in-Chief denigrating the value of African countries and immigrants. On the other hand, a new cadre of forward-thinking creatives in Hollywood have produced a magnum opus of black excellence.

We are in the midst of a battle between Donald Trump's negative vision of Africa (and African-Americans) and Wakanda's inspiring one. In this contest, those who are on the side of opportunity and inclusivity, of black technologists and innovation, are winning.

A better future beckons, and it's closer than you think.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36680

Reported Deaths: 1250
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds304154
DeSoto200920
Madison150839
Jones123149
Harrison118316
Rankin113719
Neshoba104577
Forrest104343
Lauderdale97281
Scott83115
Jackson80419
Washington75313
Copiah67516
Leake63520
Lee63022
Grenada6259
Oktibbeha62328
Warren60021
Holmes59841
Lamar5847
Wayne56819
Yazoo5667
Lowndes54917
Leflore53956
Lincoln53835
Pike51120
Lafayette5094
Sunflower5058
Panola4616
Monroe46036
Simpson4533
Covington4505
Bolivar41618
Tate39513
Attala38624
Newton37710
Adams36720
Pontotoc3636
Marion34912
Claiborne31511
Pearl River30832
Chickasaw30219
Winston30211
Marshall2973
Jasper2826
Noxubee2799
Walthall2748
Clay26211
Smith25612
Union25612
Coahoma2356
Clarke22825
Lawrence2162
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1974
Montgomery1863
Kemper18414
Carroll18311
Humphreys17410
Calhoun1705
Hancock15213
Itawamba1478
Tippah14711
Jefferson1373
Webster13511
Prentiss1274
Tunica1263
George1253
Jefferson Davis1254
Greene11610
Alcorn1112
Amite1113
Tishomingo1091
Quitman1011
Wilkinson1019
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin572
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena111
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 54768

Reported Deaths: 1096
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson7012170
Mobile5061140
Montgomery4599112
Tuscaloosa274353
Madison25359
Marshall205012
Shelby176425
Lee164737
Morgan13975
Baldwin134111
Walker111332
Elmore107622
Etowah106914
Dallas10189
DeKalb10017
Franklin95016
Unassigned77728
Autauga71515
Russell7130
Chambers68530
Cullman6686
Limestone6653
Butler65529
Houston6417
Tallapoosa63069
Lauderdale6006
St. Clair5983
Calhoun5545
Colbert5286
Escambia5128
Lowndes49222
Pike4805
Jackson4422
Coffee4364
Covington43512
Talladega4177
Dale4061
Barbour4022
Bullock37810
Hale36323
Marengo36111
Chilton3452
Blount3311
Clarke3236
Wilcox3158
Marion30914
Winston3095
Sumter29713
Pickens2786
Randolph2759
Monroe2683
Perry2552
Conecuh2388
Bibb2271
Macon2229
Choctaw22012
Greene2009
Henry1573
Washington1529
Lawrence1460
Crenshaw1343
Cherokee1317
Geneva1010
Fayette901
Clay892
Lamar891
Coosa671
Cleburne481
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