In digital supremacy, black millennials shall lead the way.
That’s the core finding of a new Nielsen study called Young, Connected and Black, which describes the black millennial cohort in America as sophisticated, optimistic, exuberant and reflective. They’re influential. They’re bold. And they are shaping important conversations about policy, culture, and entertainment as they bring their offline passions into online interactions. Citing a combination of population growth, better education, and rising incomes, Nielsen finds that the 11.5 million African American millennials are about to bring new purchasing power to a digital world.
Honestly, the report describes the most awesome group of people you could possibly imagine.
Some key findings:
- 70% of black millennials are fascinated by new technology, and they’re more likely to be the first among friends or colleagues to try new tech products.
- 91% of African-Americans own smartphones, just three points behind the largest group, Asian-Americans
- 55% of black millennials say they spend an hour or more daily on social networking sites, 11% higher than the total millennial population. Some 29% of black millennials say they spend three or more hours daily on social networking sites, 44% higher than that of the total millennial population.
- They spend more time watching live or on-demand television than others; they watch video on a wider variety of devices.
- Their sophisticated use of social media isn’t just for shopping or driving brand awareness, their online behaviors are driving a deeper understanding of the issues that impact society at large.
The report is a treasure trove of data and a rallying cry for marketers to get targeting. “For marketers trying to establish meaningful connections with African-Americans, leveraging their passions and usage of today’s latest technology should be a central focus in strategic goals.” That all makes sense. And it’s thrilling to see this slice of the next generation doing well enough to embrace digital possibility with such vibrancy and creativity.
But it's the "meaningful connections" part that sticks in my throat. Partly because it’s hard to miss the powerful disconnect that this analysis reveals. This is the very same group of awesome people who are routinely abused on Twitter, are labeled as thugs when they lobby for political change, who worry about being targeted by police, who wait longer for advancement at work and are underpaid throughout their careers. They have value as consumers, but not much else.
But if you take the analysis at face value only, then it describes a missed opportunity. Black millennials - who are often admired but rarely paid for their online innovations - are driving real corporate change, like more diverse entertainment options. Why not target the issues they're advocating for, instead? Maybe the voices that are being amplified should be tapped for their insight and leadership potential, and not just for their pocketbooks.
The Marvel Universe is about to get more diverse
Kevin Feige, the crazy powerful 43-year-old President of Marvel Studios, is bowing to public pressure and prepared to move beyond totally white casts for his much-anticipated films. The next four Marvel films scheduled to be released feature female leads that are all women of color, and he vows to be aware of the casting ramifications in the future. "For us, it's important that we don't feel like a completely white, European cast."
A global economist worries about diversity, inequality not politicians
Dambisa Moyo is a Zambian-born economist, a Goldman Sachs alum, and a sought after corporate board member. She waves off talk of market instability after the election and says rising inequality is the issue to fear. “We are at risk of creating a jobless underclass in this country because of technology changing the job market,” she says. And all solutions must be inclusive. “Is everybody in the room? Is there, for instance, a young Latino male, an older black male, and a white woman who stays home? All of our stakeholders diverse now, and so should we.”
The best ideas for fixing diversity in tech
Kara Swisher and Peter Kafka, the hosts of Recode Decode and Recode Media, respectively, have changed up their regular blog format to offer a mash-up of the best ideas they’ve heard about how to make tech more inclusive from their top-shelf Silicon Valley guests. Expect candid talk from folks like Twitter’s Dick Costolo, investor Aileen Lee, entrepreneur Tristan Walker and media legend Samantha Bee.
Teachers to Trump: Stop the trash talk
In a strongly-worded letter published by the National Education Association, teachers have asked the Republican candidate to stop the divisive rhetoric he uses during his campaign stops, saying it’s seeping into the classroom and making children anxious and upset. “That is why we are calling on you to apologize to America’s students and rethink your language and the effect it has on our students, our schools, our families and our communities.”
A burkini pool party welcomes new immigrants while teaching them to swim
Oh, Canada. The Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties hosted the first of what hopes to be an annual “pool party” to help new immigrants in Canada relax and have some fun while learning water safety. Tragically, two children who had immigrated from the Philippines drowned at a nearby beach last August. "Our hope is that we can be proactive and put something in place moving forward," said the organizers.
Many Hispanic students have never had a teacher who looked like them
An innovative new program in Tennessee is trying to change that. The Pionero Scholars is a special program designed to train Latinx or immigrant students for careers in education, hoping to provide a steady stream of culturally and linguistically prepared teachers for work in urban settings.
The Woke Leader
Where Standing Rock and Flint, Michigan intersect
Two race and African diaspora scholars, Christopher Petrella and Ameer Loggins, have written a thoughtful piece exploring the common threads found in the issues facing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the people of Flint, Michigan. It’s about race, wealth, water, health, agency and a wholesale denial of the right to political process. “Though it would be wrong to suggest that Standing Rock is the new Flint, the struggles over access to democratic decision-making power are strikingly similar,” they write.
A more accurate map of the world we share
Maps are by their very nature distortions, two-dimensional attempts to describe a three-dimensional world. The maps we see tend to show Africa as smaller than it is, with Greenland vastly larger, for example. Where design leads, thinking follows. The new AuthaGraph World Map corrects that. And it’s beautiful. Created by Hajime Narukawa at Keio University, it recently won a prestigious Japanese design award.
What if your favorite Studio Ghibli characters popped into in the real world?
This is the delightful fantasy of South Korean filmmaker Kojer, who faithfully added many of the beloved characters found in Hayao Miyazaki’s famous animated films and made them appear in real locales in Asia. Even if you’re not familiar with the original work, you’ll love the effect.