22 Jun The Black Tech Dope Game: My Response To The Kathryn Finney + Rodney Sampson Twitter Situation

By now, many of you have heard about the situation that popped off on Twitter between Kathryn Finney (digitalundivided) and Rodney Sampson (TechSquare Labs). For context, digitalundivided is a tech accelerator for Black/Latinx women, while TechSquare Labs is a startup building company and co-working space.

You can read their tweets here and here, but the cliff note version is:

[EDIT: 1:29pm – Credit: Kristen Daniel]+Kathyrn launched BIG Accelerator last fall in Atlanta
+Rodney announces TechSquare Labs is starting BuiltxWomen – an accelerator-like program for minority women
+Kathryn says they are copying from others who have been doing similar work for a long time
+Drama ensues. Shots are fired.

There are a bunch of things to say about this situation, but from the Atlanta Black Tech Community perspective, there are a few hard topics that need to be addressed ASAP. And, honestly, they apply to Black Tech nationwide:

+Ownership: Who “owns” what? Is this like the dope game where certain groups own specific blocks, and if you try to take over their block, a small scale war breaks out? Or this a capitalistic society where all is fair as long as you don’t break any laws? In this case, it is black women tech founders, but it could easily be black founders overall, black youth coding, social impact, etc. etc. etc. If it’s the dope game model, who divvies up the “blocks’, and what is the criteria for having a block?

+Encroaching On Turf: Going with the dope game model, how are situations handled with one group tries to take over someone else’s block? Do we let them kill each other? Does a “council” step in, and work the situation out? Does the community set the expectation that the groups collaborate?

+Lack of Core Values: These questions linger because there are no official/unofficial policies for how business is done in this unique community. Why? Because no core values have been set. Is it community first, or self first, or a combo of both? What happens when someone puts community first, but goes broke in the process? Or when they look out for themselves, and the community suffers?

Ultimately, this is a leadership issue, and failure to address these issues will cause people to pick one side or the other. Errrbody loses.

*Note: All my dope game knowledge/references comes from watching The Wire.

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