Campus News

Writer-in-Residence Published in Atlantic Monthly

Story posted January 15, 1999

Jan. 21, 1999, BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Anthony Walton, Bowdoin's Writer-in-Residence, has written an article titled "Technology Versus African-Americans" for the January issue of The Atlantic Monthly magazine.

The article explores Walton's observation that African-Americans have been left in the wake of the current technological revolution, and have suffered rather than benefited from past technological advances.

This trend dates back hundreds of years, from the advanced sailing ships that allowed the Portuguese to make it back from West Africa and prosper in the slave trade, to the textiles and metals that were exchanged for slaves, to the firearms that allowed the slave traders to overpower their captors. Later, the invention of the cotton gin made an inefficient cotton harvest profitable enough to increase the need for slaves on cotton plantations. The later advent of mechanical cotton pickers went on to displace slaves on the farms and push them north, where they worked in the factories of mass production and were exploited by that technology, as well.

Walton says this trend, fueled in part by black Americans and their own consciousness, is so detrimental to the advancement of African-Americans that it will make current debates about welfare, affirmative action and integration "trivial by comparison."

If the issue is not addressed now, he says, the schism between the haves and have-nots -- the technologically literate and illiterate -- will become wider and meaner, harming not only African Americans, but the country as a whole.

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