OAKLAND, Calif. June 2, 2020 – With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing school and work online for millions, The Greenlining Institute has released a new report focused on first-hand accounts of life without home internet access. On the Wrong Side of the Digital Divide, largely based on interviews with residents of Fresno and Oakland, also includes key data about California’s digital divide and recommendations for actions the state can take to quickly expand internet access.
Latino households, the report notes, are only about one third as likely to have home internet access as White households, while Black households also lag well behind. California’s wealthiest households are 16 times more likely to have access to home internet than the poorest ones.
“More than one fifth of California households either have no internet connection or can connect only through a smartphone – which is just not adequate for many school assignments or job applications,” said report co-author Vinhcent Le, Greenlining’s Technology Equity Legal Counsel. “Latinos and low-income families are especially likely to be on the wrong side of the digital divide.”
The report introduces people in a variety of circumstances struggling with internet access. Pitch, a 16-year-old Asian American student in Fresno, is learning web design and has struggled to complete assignments on her phone, while the cost of internet service has been a burden on her family. Miss A, an older, Black Oakland resident taking a nonprofit management class, had to use local libraries to get online – an option that’s now been closed off by the pandemic, forcing her to drop the class.
“COVID-19 has turned a serious problem into an emergency,” said report co-author Gissela Moya, Greenlining’s Manny Garcia Technology Equity Fellow. “California needs to act quickly to ensure internet access for all.”
To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.