Alejandro Roark on Latinos, Technology, and Access (Ep. 247)

Alejandro Roark on Latinos, Technology, and Access

Alejandro Roark on Latinos, Technology, and Access

Alejandro Roark, Executive Director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP) joined Joe Miller to discuss disparities and solutions for Latinos using technology.

Bio

Alejandro Roark is Executive Director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP) in Washington, DC. HTTP is a national non-profit that convenes an intersectional coalition of national Latino organizations committed to promoting access, adoption, and the full utilization of technology and telecommunications resources by the Hispanic/Latino/a community in the United States. HTTP works at the intersection of ethics, technology, and public policy to educate, advocate, and serve as a national voice for Hispanics/Latinos in technology and telecommunications policy.

As Executive Director, Alejandro leads a strategic planning process with HTTP member organizations to set the national Latino tech policy agenda that creates opportunities for national, and local advocates to engage with Congress and the Administration to advocate for inclusive public policy that promotes civil rights protections, equitable access to broadband, and increased diversity in media and tech workforces. HTTP works to extend Latino priorities in the following policy areas: broadband adoption, spectrum allocation, consumer privacy, open internet, intellectual property, and diversity & Inclusion within the technology workforce.

With nearly a decade of experience working at the local, state and national level, Alejandro has dedicated his career to the elimination of structural inequities across LGBT inclusion, racial and social justice, and civil rights policies, through community power building, story-telling, equitable resource allocation and by creating pathways for a more diverse workforce.

Alejandro applies his skills and leadership to the examination of the ethical and social dimensions of technological change including the attention economy, data privacy, algorithmic decision-making, and artificial intelligence to ensure that Latino priorities are integrated into the policy-making process.

Prior to his position with HTTP, Alejandro oversaw the tech policy portfolio which included the planning and execution of its annual Latinx Tech Summit, for LULAC National, the nation’s oldest nation’s country’s oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization. In addition to leading the corporate social responsibility team where he worked with fortune 500 companies to develop, implement, and scale nationwide community programs and coordinating LULAC’s Corporate Alliance. Alejandro has also served as the founding executive director for Utah’s first and only Mexican Cultural Arts organization, as well as the associate director for Equality Utah where he managed the region’s public relations systems, community outreach programming, and state, local, and federal advocacy work.

Resources

Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership

Intro

Hey everyone. Here we are on Election Day as purveyors of misinformation and intimidation use both traditional and digital tactics to keep voters away from the polls. The backdrop to this, of course, has been the Supreme Court’s roll-back of the Voting Rights Act, most notably its Shelby County v. Holder decision, in which it essentially neutered the VRA’s preclearance requirement — the provision requiring state and local governments to get federal approval before making changes to their voting laws and practices. 

Section 5 is still there. The Court just ruled the 40-year-old data Congress relied on to decide which states are subject to the requirement were too-old.

Then, as Laurence Tribe wrote in Lawfare last week,  we have the current, conservative majority of the Supreme Court, with the exception of Chief Justice Roberts, suggesting state legislatures should be the highest authority in each state when it comes to each state’s voting laws, even above the highest state court charged with enforcing each state’s constitution. 

Social media has not played as dominant a role in shaping public opinion as it did in 2016. But that doesn’t mean state actors and others aren’t still using it. And the Washington Post reports bad actors are using robocalls, in Michigan specifically, to explicitly tell people to stay away from the polls. The FCC empowered carriers to block robocalls before they reach consumers. But apparently they dropped the ball here. 

The New York Times warned the public this morning about potential rigged voting machines, tossed ballots, and intimidating federal agents, Yes, this is 2020. And yes, we are still fighting this battle. In this election though the electorate cast their votes by mail in record numbers. So we are seeing this shift across the political spectrum to more analog tacticseither to suppress votes or to preserve them.

We’ll see what happens. I’m tuning it out–at least until tomorrow. I don’t think I’m even gonna watch the results come in. I’ll wake up tomorrow and see what happened.

But my guest today is Alejandro Roark, Executive Director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Parntership here in Washington. Previously, Alejandro led LULAC’s tech portfolio. He was also the founding Executive Director of the state of Utah’s first and only Mexican Culutral Arts Organization. Alejandro Roark!

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