As we hurtle towards the 21st century, an increasing number of individuals start to realize that the ability to use computers and information technology resources effectively will determine how well individuals, organizations, and communities function in a rapidly changing technological society. Numerous studies, including one conducted in the Summer 1995 of Boston's Black community by Freedom House and The Trotter Institute, and highlighted in this issue, have documented the need of Americans—students, workers, unemployed, youth, adults and senior citizens, to become knowledgeable and proficient in the use of computers and information technology. There are several questions that do face communities of color, in particular: Why is there such a low distribution, in comparison to more wealthy communities, of up-to-date computers and information technology resources in inner city and minority communities? What role does one's race, gender, age, class, education, residence, and employment status play in their ability to access, and use computers and information technology resources? How does a community's socioeconomic, racial, cultural and linguistic make-up affect its ability to learn about such technology for its own development? These are valid questions which are fundamental for understanding the relationship of access, technology, and democracy. The purpose of this essay is to summarize some of the practical, day-to-day challenges faced by individuals and organizations—specifically within communities of color in gaining access to, learning about and utilizing computer technology for personal, professional, and community empowerment.


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