Professor of Law, Raneta Mack Lawson is featured in the Creighton University Magazine article, ‘Race in America’. Below is a portion of the article.
Along the way, practical difficulties have been overcome and new ones have presented themselves. Among these, according to Raneta Lawson Mack, Creighton professor of law, has been something called the digital divide.
Mack’s concern about minority access to the information superhighway began early in the digital revolution, and her 2001 book, The Digital Divide: Standing at the Intersection of Race and Technology, was an early attempt to voice fears that the advent of the internet might accentuate the economic gulf between the white, majority culture and black America.
Today, she said, those fears have eased. The gulf has been bridged, and access to the internet and all its offerings is near universal. But a new problem has arisen in the wake of that achievement, and she calls it the knowledge divide.
“The issue has now shifted to what people do once they have access,” she said. “To the extent there are any limitations now it’s based upon people not knowing what they can do with all of this information that’s available to them — those who have that kind of knowledge versus those who don’t.”
It is one thing to use the internet to acquire useful knowledge, or to research job opportunities, she said, but if it becomes just a source of entertainment then a significant opportunity will be lost.
“You can put a computer or a cellphone in front of a minority child and say, ‘Here it is’ — give access — but if that child doesn’t have the same education and knowledge base that a nonminority child has, then the digital divide still exists,” she said.