Rockeymoore: People of Color and Women Simply Being Gawked At Instead of Fully Included CGPS Leader calls for 'inclusion revolution' at Future of Wealth Summit

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“How many of you knew that I am only the fourth generation from slavery?”

Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, president and CEO of the Center for the Global Policy Solutions (CGPS), began her spirited remarks at the 2017 Future of Wealth Summit with that question.

Her opening was a reminder that the progress and hurdles of African-Americans should be viewed through the lens of history.

Dr. Rockeymoore used a story about her mother (seen here as a child seated second from left) to illustrate how people of color have been excluded for generations.

“(Blacks) came out of an economic system where they had to figure it out. In one generation they went from being capital to actually learning how to build capital in a capitalist system,” she said.

Generations later, building capital is still very much a challenge. Dr. Rockeymoore recalled how her mother–a child of the segregated South– out-shined even white students on a 6th-grade aptitude test. Her score was so high, the white superintendent made a trip to the tattered colored school to simply gawk at the little black girl, amazed by her intellect.

“We have brilliance that continues to this day. Brilliance embodied in female bodies, brilliance embodied in trans bodies, brilliance embodied in black and brown bodies that are just being gazed at or willfully ignored,” Rockeymoore said.

Dr. Rockeymoore speaks at the Future of Wealth Summit.

The continued exclusion of such brilliance was one of the motivating factors in Rockeymoore’s founding of CGPS and why the nonprofit holds an annual summit aimed at highlighting the racial and gender wealth and opportunity gaps. Technology was the theme of this year’s event, Rockeymoore said, because it is a make or break industry; those who are in the loop will prosper and those who aren’t will be left further behind.

"This is the new game; technology is it. Yet the captains of industry … are gazing and looking away … the gazing continues in the 21st century,” she said.

The tech sector’s stance that it can’t find qualified women and people of color is a poor, unfounded excuse, Rockeymoore said, and she warned that without an “Inclusion Revolution” the industry would create an artificial intelligence and machine learning future that would mimic the isms of the real world.

“We are allowing ourselves to be relegated to life in a racist augmented reality … an AI-dominated world where the same old racist, sexist, classist, xenophobic, homophobia paradigms exist,” she said.

Dr. Rockeymoore chats with a Summit attendee.

The Inclusion Revolution has become a central part of CGPS’s mission. It advocates for a nation that respects all of her people and values the unique contributions and experiences they bring.

Rockeymoore said change must be demanded; it won’t be given freely.

“We need to change the paradigm and disrupt the system in a way that promotes diversity and inclusion for all,” she said.

Watch her impassioned address in its entirety.

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