by Cathy F. Hart, Special to The New Tri-State Defender
When a group of tech-savvy adults noticed the need for Black and Latino youth in Memphis to have more mentorship, networking and entrepreneurship opportunities, they created a space just for them.
The multifaceted team of developers – Anthony Anderson, Bianca Russell, Jade Thornton, Christina Trujillo and Jerry Wilson – have come together to form BLiT Memphis, a space for up-and-coming technologists.
BLiT (pronounced Be-Lit) will create a Black and Latino tech ecosystem in Memphis, connecting people to opportunities and organizations, as well as locate resources and money for young entrepreneurs.
“When I look at our community and the disparity spacing and what’s going on in the world, we see that the tech industry is booming but minorities aren’t represented in that field,” said Thornton, a social entrepreneur. “Representation is important so if this industry is booming but we’re not represented, we’re already decades behind in terms of economic development.”
To celebrate the launch of BLiT, technologists, gamers and hobbyists graced the Hattiloo Theatre last week for tech demonstrations, networking, speakers, food and fun.
“Although we’re advocating for people in tech, it’s also aspirational,” said Wilson, who has been a technologist in Memphis for 25 years. “So it’s also for young Black and Latino men and women who aspire to get into the tech industry to show them those inroads because we believe that there’s talented people who just haven’t had the opportunity.
“Living in Memphis, we have brilliant young people that have brilliant ideas and we want to have an environment where those ideas can flourish, [where] they can start companies,”
Wilson said. “Where those ideas don’t just die on the vine because they weren’t in the right communities or the right neighborhoods.”
Anderson has been working in the Memphis community for many years creating networks of schools and introducing and embedding STEM into those networks.
“We want to get folk who have that skill set to find a venue for them and get them into $22/$24 an hour jobs,” Anderson said.
Thornton added, “And [we want to] make those connections for them. We have students who love art and they love drawing. We have jobs as architects. Those are the jobs you can do with those passions, hobbies and gifts.”
Wilson said BLiT will focus on both business and tech. “I think these are high-paying jobs people can get but I think also we have entrepreneurs out there. It’s almost two tiers moving people from maybe the hobby stage to the professional stage where they’re given more money for what they love. (And then) moving some people from the professional stage to the entrepreneurial stage.”