Carl Horowitz

Editor's note: This column is Part II in a series. Click here for Part I.

The information technology industry long has been one of Jesse Jackson’s targets. Well over a decade ago Rainbow/PUSH established its Silicon Valley Project office. There is enormous money to be extracted on behalf of minority groups ostensibly “excluded” from tech industry employment. Whether such concessions benefit a particular company is immaterial. Jackson is a power broker. His specialty is confrontation. He disingenuously uses imagery of fairness and togetherness when it suits his needs, but his ulterior motive is anything but a “win-win.” The world of race-based shakedowns, by its nature, is one of zero-sum economics. If one group wins, another loses. And Jesse Jackson means for blacks (and to an extent, Hispanics) to win and for whites to lose.

Jesse Jackson took his moral theater this past month to three titans of Silicon Valley. First stop: eBay. The online auction and shopping website, held its convention in San Jose on May 13. And Jackson issued a statement urging company officials to raise the profile of racial minorities in hiring for the executive suites and in contracting. The next day, May 14, Jackson similarly hectored officials and shareholders of Google at company headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. And on May 24, Jackson brought his show to Redwood City, Calif., site of this year’s Facebook shareholder meeting. With Facebook Chairman/CEO Mark Zuckerberg, CFO David Ebersman and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg looking on, Jackson denounced the company for its “patterns of exclusion.

It’s worth quoting at length from his Facebook statement because it encapsulates the essence of his tour:

I speak to you today representing the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, about the need to open up a new era of growth and inclusion of African-Americans, Latinos and other people of color in Silicon Valley’s technology industry. Inclusion leads to growth, and when there is growth, everybody wins.

Facebook is uniquely positioned to lead this new era. We won’t know how good Silicon Valley can be until everyone can participate.

All we ask is that everyone plays by one set of rules, and that there is an even playing field for all. It’s the moral imperative.

Carl Horowitz

Carl F. Horowitz is director of the Organized Labor Accountability Project of the National Legal and Policy Center, a Gold Partner organization dedicated to promoting ethics in American public life.
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