Prince no era solamente un artista famoso. También trabajaba por una comunidad tecnológica más incluyente.
Esta idea inspiró a Van Jones, amigo de Prince, a fundar YesWeCode, una organización no lucrativa en Oakland, Estados Unidos, que encabeza el movimiento para que más jóvenes de las minorías se involucren en el mundo de la tecnología.
La iniciativa YesWeCode, que forma parte de la organización benéfica Rebuild the Dream de Jones, tiene la misión de enseñar a programar a 100,000 jóvenes de clase baja.
La idea surgió de una conversación que Jones entabló con Prince luego del asesinato del adolescente negro Trayvon Martin en 2012.
"Prince dijo: 'La gente puede creer que un chico negro que lleva una capucha es un maleante. También pueden pensar que un chico blanco que lleva una capucha es un genio de Silicon Valley", cuenta Jones en una conversación con Jake Tapper, de CNN, que tuvo lugar el jueves 21 de abril.
"Enseñémosles a los chicos negros a ser como Mark Zuckerberg".
YesWeCode es una de las muchas organizaciones que luchan por la diversidad en el mundo de la tecnología. Su objetivo es generar oportunidades económicas para los chicos de color y ayudar a desarrollar una generación talentosa en el campo tecnológico de la que las empresas puedan sacar provecho en los años venideros.
As the many eulogies and remembrances of Prince rolled in Thursday, the towering pop star -- in influence if not in physical stature -- was called a "certified genius" by The Who's Pete Townshend. A "true innovator and a singular artist" by Apple CEO Tim Cook. A "creative icon" by President Obama.
He was also, in his way, a leader.
Yes, he was a "brilliant bandleader," as Obama noted in his statement, a man who may have done and played it all on his recordings but fronted bands in live performances that were mesmerizing for their polished showmanship. "A succession of his bands," wrote the New York Times in its obituary of the 57-year-old Prince, including the Revolution, the New Power Generation, and 3rdEyeGirl, "were united by their funky momentum and quick reflexes as Prince made every show seem both thoroughly rehearsed and improvisational."
In 1993, Prince decided that he’d had enough. His longtime struggles with his record label, Warner Bros., had left him wanting to reassert control over his creative life. The company might own his music, he reasoned, but it did not own him. So he changed his name to an unpronounceable glyph, a highly stylized overlay of the symbols for man and woman.
Prince, as was made clear in that moment, existed in a place beyond convention. His glyph was sent out on 3.5-inch floppy disks to media organizations so that they could use it. That way, no one had an excuse to refer to him with any terms other than his own.
Prince, who was found dead on Thursday at 57, understood how technology spread ideas better than almost anyone else in popular music. And so he became something of a hacker, upending the systems that predated him and fighting mightily to pioneer new ones. Sometimes he hated technology; sometimes he loved it. But more than that, at his best Prince was technology, a musician who realized that making music was not his only responsibility, that his innovation had to extend to representation, distribution, transmission and pure system invention.
The marquee of Oakland’s Paramount Theatre bears a somber tribute to Prince, whose passing on Thursday shocked the world. The superstar revealed audiences here a few weeks ago. Who would have dreamed then that down the street, the legacy of Prince’s music would live on in an ambitious tech program to give kids from low-opportunity backgrounds a chance to shine. It’s called ‘Yes We Code.’
It was inside Impact Hub on Broadway that Prince’s vision sprang to life. It all started in July 2013, when George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. It was a verdict that angered Prince’s good friend, CNN political contributor Van Jones.
Kelley Nayojahi, COO of Queyno Labs describes their ensuing conversation.
“Van was angry and he says, “It’s just racism,” and Prince said, “Maybe it could also be that we’re not turning out enough black Mark Zuckerbergs.”
And so ‘Yes We Code’ was born. It’s goal? To give 100,000 low-income kids the tools they need to write code and become dot.com billionaires.
Jones hooked up with Qeyno Labs in Oakland.
“We focus on high potential, low opportunity kids,” says Nayojahi. “We want the kids who normally would not have access to this, to expose them to coding and careers and the nuts and bolts of what it takes.”
Prince paid for their first hack-a-thon was held at Impact Hub in the Winter of 2014. It focused on creating social justice apps that could have saved Trayvon.
“Prince’s legacy isn’t just musical,” said Jones, in an interview on CNN. “He’s a humanitarian first and foremost. He’s not the kind of friend that was there for you when you don’t need him. But, if you do need him, he is there a thousand percent, whether you know him or not.”
When Jones talks about his late friend, he’s moved to tears.
“There are people right now who have solar panels on their houses in Oakland, California that Prince paid for and they don’t even know about it.”
Yes We Code is all inclusive. Hundreds of African-American, Latino, Asian, Native American and Appalachian youth have become part of the program. On the program’s website there is a page thanking the man who made it possible.
#YesWeCode would like to honor Prince and thank him for his inspired vision for #YesWeCode. Prince’s commitment to ensuring young people of color have a voice in the tech sector continues to impact the lives of future visionaries creating the tech of tomorrow.
Prince wasn't just a renowned artist. He was also an advocate for a more inclusive tech community.
It was this belief that inspired Prince's friend Van Jones to start YesWeCode, a nonprofit in Oakland, which is at the forefront of a movement to get more young minorities involved in technology.
The YesWeCode initiative, which is part of Jones' Rebuild the Dream charity, is on a mission to teach 100,000 low-income youths to write code.
The idea grew out of a conversation Jones had with Prince after the 2012 killing of black teenTrayvon Martin.
"Prince said ... 'A black kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a thug. A white kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a Silicon Valley genius,'" recalled political activist Jones in conversation with CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday.
"Let's teach the black kids how to be like Mark Zuckerberg."
YesWeCode is one of many organizations working to diversify tech. Their goal is to create economic opportunities for kids of color -- and help build a generation of tech talent that companies can tap for years to come.
LA Times: Prince is mourned around the world: Tributes from Broadway's Hamilton to Brooklyn block parties
Across the planet the world mourns the loss of musician and creator Prince, who died Thursday morning in his home recording studio in Chanhassen, Minn.
Raw Story: Van Jones provides the perfect antidote to Stacey Dash: Prince ‘had a dream’ for Black Lives Matter
CNN’s Van Jones opened up on Thursday about the more charitable side of Prince, explaining that the pop icon was reticent to discuss his efforts to help others.
“This is a man so much more than his music,” Jones told host Jake Tapper in a phone interview. “The music is an expression of a genius that is so deep and so profound that only music could capture it and express it. But it’s so much more than the music.”
Jones explained that the singer and songwriter reached out to him after his resignation from President Barack Obama’s administration in 2009, when his professional reputation was “toxic,” and promised to help him with his post-White House projects.
The former Crossfire host also unwittingly undermined Fox News’ argument earlier in the day that it was hard to see Prince as a “black artist.” In fact, Jones said, Prince was the inspiration behind Yes We Code, his current project helping bring tech education to communities of color.
“We started Yes We Code because of Trayvon Martin,” Jones explained. “Prince said, ‘No, listen. A black kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a thug; a white kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a Silicon Valley genius. Let’s teach the black kids how to be like Mark Zuckerberg.’ Out of that observation, we built a whole organization.”
Jones also recalled Prince’s tribute to Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, saying that the Minneapolis native supported the Black Lives Matter movement, and “had a dream for them,” which he expressed during a performance at a rally there.
“He said, ‘When I come back to Baltimore, I want to stay in a hotel that you young people have created,'” he explained. “I want to go to a restaurant that you young people have created.'”
Prince, the music icon who was found dead at his home in suburban Minneapolis on Thursday, is being remembered in Silicon Valley as a social innovator and a passionate advocate for Black youth.
His advocacy often took place behind the scenes, but Prince envisioned a better future for kids of color, inspiring YesWeCode, an initiative whose goal is to teach 100,000 low-income kids to write code.
"People think about him as a musician," Jones, the author and CNN contributor who founded YesWeCode, told USA TODAY Thursday. "But it's not just what he did with musical instruments. It's what he did with his whole life. He helped so many people. Most people don't know that. He wanted to keep his charitable activities a secret. He wanted to keep his passion for underprivileged people between him and his god."
Jones says the idea for YesWeCode took root when he was discussing race with his friend after the Trayvon Martin verdict.
"Every time you see a black kid wearing a hoodie, you say: There's a thug. If you see a white kid wearing hoodie, you say: There's Mark Zuckerberg," Jones told USA TODAYlast year.
"I said, 'That's because of racism. And Prince said, 'Maybe so, or maybe you civil rights guys haven't created enough Mark Zuckerbergs.'"
"Learning to code is like learning a creative superpower,” said a guest speaker during her talk at the #YesWeCode Coding Corps orientation last December. They were speaking to a room full of twenty-somethings who are all on a journey to becoming computer programmers; learning to code, problem solve, and whiteboard along the way.
This distinct group of future coders is participating in the inaugural #YesWeCode Coding Corps, a program committed to plugging people of color into economic opportunities in tech, through a training pipeline that will bring untapped talent to market by way of technical and non-technical education.Read more
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In the lead up to the President's historic visit to SXSW, today the Administration is announcing the launch of “The Opportunity Project,” a new open data effort to improve economic mobility for all Americans. As the President said in his State of the Union address, we must harness 21st-century technology and innovation to expand access to opportunity and tackle our greatest challenges.Read more