Nat Irvin II, 48, founder and president of Future Focus 2020, an urban-futurist think tank based at Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
"Advances in technology and the explosion of startups have huge implications for the black community. At least three future scenarios are possible: In one scenario, which I call the 'long black boom,' more black Americans than ever enter business. At the other extreme is the 'evening sun going down' scenario, in which blacks remain caught in the already-wide gap in wealth, earnings, and education that exists between them and more-affluent people. The third scenario — 'nobody knows the trouble I've seen' — falls in the middle: A series of economic fits and starts causes the status of black Americans to remain relatively unchanged. I believe that blacks have a good chance of moving from survival mode to 'thrival' mode."
"A transformation of thinking will take place within the black community. Black people will no longer be the monitors of social conscience in U.S. society; they will leave the public-sector and advocacy worlds, and they will enter business — in particular, e-commerce."
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"As we enter a more technology-driven world, people will organize themselves less and less according to race. So digital advancements will transcend race, geography, and government. Meanwhile, churches, temples, and other houses of worship will become forums for discussing the moral and ethical implications of technology."
Contact Nat Irvin II by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A version of this article appeared in the May 2000 issue of Fast Company magazine.