There’s a special kind of dynamism that resides within the spirit of Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. In her tenth year as a member of Congress, Clarke has developed a reputation as a pragmatic and thoughtful leader. A member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, she believes technological innovation plays a crucial role in bolstering social and economic progress.
“Our society is rapidly evolving,” Clarke told Politic365 in a recent interview, “and what has caused that is the introduction of emerging industries through technology to the civil society.” Whether we’re talking about the ways we communicate, pay our bills, apply for jobs, or exchanging ideas, today’s technological innovations provide “tools to advance just about everything that our lives need facilitated,” she said.
Like the growing chorus of voices who recognize the value of technology to our daily lives, Clarke is helping to spread greater awareness about the need for meaningful inclusion in this space. The tech sector is all encompassing, she says, and touches everything from manufacturing and communications, to application development, and commerce. “It permeates all of life and we – communities of color – have the talent, expertise, and ability to participate,” she said, “but what we don’t have is the access, the financial resources, and the opportunities that other communities have, particularly when compared to the predominant culture that’s in the ownership seat right now.”
Asked about how best to diversify ownership opportunities, and increase the likelihood that people of color would participate as producers and operators, not just as consumers of technological innovation, Clarke said the Federal Communications Commission has an important role to play. She noted that the agency provides an outlet for the public to weigh-in on how new proposals may disproportionally impact marginalized and disadvantaged members of our society, saying “it’s so important that we engage this regulatory body; they are our voices in a sense, and I think they have a unique responsibility to be creative, to incentivize partnerships, and incentivize a level playing field so others can enter this space who have hereto for been unable to do so.”
Clarke is committed to pursuing an agenda of inclusivity, and believes policymaking should focus on “an inclusive, diverse body of thought that goes into its development at the outset, so that the unintended consequences are teased out prior to implementation.” She is adamant that, 21st century policies should not be ill-informed for lack of meaningful engagement in the process, but that it must “take into consideration all of the dynamics of what this industry means, and what it means to disrupt an industry in order to move in a new direction.”
A New Yorker to the core, Clarke speaks with a confidence and authority that resonates through her actions and advocacy on behalf of her constituents and the communities she holds dear. “I’m excited about the possibilities, and that’s a driving force for me,” she told Politic365 when asked what motivates her vision for this space. “When the argument is laid out for inclusion, equity, and diversity, any rational mind would see the virtue in using this opportunity to make sure that both the benefits and burdens are shared” by all parties to the process, and “they’re not tilted in one direction.”
“There’s not going to be a social issue that impacts our lives, let alone an economic issue, that will not be re-litigated through the tech infrastructure that exists,” she said. “We need to be a part of that so that our experience helps to inform the direction in which things go, in which we evolve through technology, and we make sure that our communities are held harmless in the growth and development of different industries.”