Will.i.am praised the power of technology, saying it has done “what businesses, governments and cities have not been able to do” in the fight against discrimination.
Speaking as the keynote speaker at the Black Young Professionals (BYP) Network’s two-day leadership conference on Thursday, the musician, record producer and tech entrepreneur used Uber as an example to describe how “technology has made the world a lot easier ”.
“In 1991, if I needed to make a car app and go hitchhiking, if I was in New York, being black, a cab (doesn’t stop) for me. It doesn’t stop for me if I’m in New York, ”the 46-year-old explained.
“But the technology… Uber, now – I could have a car anytime I want. Technology has done what businesses, governments and cities weren’t able to do. There are no prejudices like in 1991.
The singer recognized the work that remains to be done so that black professionals are part of the “technological tomorrow”.
“We are not participating in this conversation as we should be,” he said.
“And the more we realize that we should be… let’s give our nieces and nephews, our sons and daughters equipped with these skills.”
The rapper emphasized the importance of collaboration for young black professionals in any industry.
“There is nothing like a person who is successful on their own… When it comes to problem solving, networking and collaboration is essential,” said will.i.am.
His biggest piece of advice for aspiring professionals is what he describes as “the incredible combination” of humility and daring.
“Be daring and fearless… Humble and daring are an amazing combination,” he added.
The frontman of the Black Eyed Peas also explained to attendees how crucial it is to dream big.
“At one point people said… ‘There’s no way to sell records like Michael Jackson. You can’t sing like Michael, you can’t dance like Michael, but damn it, we got closer, ”he said.
“We have sold nearly 40 million albums.
“Now why can’t we do the same in technology? I want to someday create a product that has as many users as WhatsApp. Am I not supposed to dream this big?
Will.i.am gave his advice to the audience at the BYP Network Leadership Conference, an annual event where more than 150 speakers offer their perspective on the world’s most competitive industries.
The network, co-founded by Kike Oniwinde in 2016, is a platform for black professionals to connect, find jobs, enroll in mentoring programs and seek funding.
Ms. Oniwinde told the PA News Agency how the conference makes people like will.i.am accessible.
“They are role models and they are reachable,” she said.
The 29-year-old explained that the goal of the BYP Network is to “change the black narrative” as she discusses the difference between diversity and inclusion.
“Diversity is invited to dance. But then inclusion is actually invited to dance, ”Ms. Oniwinde said.
“The BYP network is here to develop the next generation of leaders. And we are here to promote the visibility of the models and provide opportunities and this conference is that.
Taking place on Thursday and Friday, the BYP network conference is free and anyone can attend online at: corporate.byp-network.com/leadership-conference-2021