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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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 327477

Reported Deaths: 3751
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin688981130
Ramsey28948512
Anoka23196232
Dakota23102194
Washington14590120
Stearns14314121
St. Louis9280117
Scott881056
Wright827145
Olmsted702536
Sherburne608243
Clay521359
Carver501315
Kandiyohi432024
Rice427738
Blue Earth426617
Crow Wing376237
Otter Tail332725
Chisago326914
Benton317253
Nobles313731
Winona292031
Douglas278439
Mower270623
Polk266226
Morrison241730
Lyon228712
Beltrami227518
McLeod226517
Becker217619
Goodhue216930
Steele20568
Itasca202223
Isanti199517
Carlton198417
Todd187414
Nicollet169426
Mille Lacs161231
Freeborn15966
Le Sueur153511
Brown151015
Cass149910
Pine14298
Waseca141811
Meeker139011
Roseau12475
Martin121221
Hubbard117728
Wabasha11041
Redwood101720
Chippewa9508
Cottonwood9284
Renville92729
Dodge9110
Watonwan8824
Wadena8537
Sibley8194
Rock8019
Aitkin79530
Houston7694
Fillmore7480
Pipestone74718
Kanabec67714
Yellow Medicine67612
Pennington6758
Swift6149
Murray6064
Faribault5902
Pope5641
Clearwater5389
Stevens5333
Marshall5289
Jackson5181
Lake4437
Wilkin4115
Koochiching4106
Lac qui Parle3984
Unassigned38259
Lincoln3721
Norman3638
Big Stone3332
Mahnomen3164
Grant2956
Kittson2408
Red Lake2283
Traverse1521
Lake of the Woods1021
Cook790

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 234817

Reported Deaths: 2486
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34631341
Linn14655168
Scott1166189
Black Hawk11194139
Woodbury10622133
Johnson979337
Dubuque941594
Story698323
Pottawattamie664871
Dallas657159
Sioux380529
Webster371639
Cerro Gordo367649
Marshall357647
Clinton341444
Buena Vista313114
Des Moines298621
Muscatine298271
Warren291714
Plymouth284444
Wapello263772
Jones235917
Jasper229746
Lee225617
Marion210222
Carroll203624
Bremer200212
Henry19137
Crawford181016
Benton174023
Tama156641
Washington149715
Jackson148814
Delaware147021
Dickinson143811
Boone142412
Mahaska133328
Wright13007
Clay12254
Buchanan122010
Hardin121011
Hamilton117713
Page11664
Kossuth11608
Clayton11399
Cedar112513
Harrison110832
Floyd110219
Calhoun10907
Fayette108712
Mills10858
Lyon10619
Butler10576
Winneshiek102713
Poweshiek102013
Iowa100213
Winnebago94825
Cherokee9474
Chickasaw9084
Hancock9008
Sac8978
Louisa89321
Grundy88911
Allamakee87013
Mitchell8369
Cass83524
Union8166
Appanoose80713
Humboldt8015
Shelby79511
Emmet78626
Guthrie77115
Franklin76021
Jefferson7512
Madison7174
Unassigned7050
Palo Alto6734
Keokuk6477
Pocahontas5984
Howard5809
Osceola5411
Greene5401
Ida53013
Clarke5004
Montgomery49311
Davis4819
Taylor4773
Monona4516
Monroe45113
Adair4489
Worth3820
Van Buren3755
Fremont3743
Lucas3376
Decatur3290
Wayne3077
Audubon3052
Ringgold2382
Adams1792
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