Plugging in equitably

There is a digital divide for many Black Americans—and this divide goes beyond access to broadband, find partner Kunal Modi and coauthors. While an approximately equal number of Black and White adults have smartphones and tablets, only 69 percent of Black Americans have desktop or laptop computers, compared with 80 percent of White Americans. Roughly half of Black workers have the advanced digital skills needed to thrive in an increasingly tech-driven economy, compared with 77 percent of White workers.

The digital divide disproportionately affects Black Americans across adoption, computer ownership, and digital skills.

Image description

A bar chart shows the difference in digital access and skills based on race. The data shows the percentage of Black people who have and who don’t have access or skills in 1 of 3 areas: first, broadband internet access; second, computer ownership; and last, necessary digital skills. Each of these animates onto the screen followed by the same information for White people. In all instances, the access for Black people lags behind that for White people by 15 percentage points, 11 percentage points, and 27 percentage points, respectively. Source: Dominique Harrison, Affordability & availability: Expanding broadband in the Black rural South, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Oct 2021; Sara Atske and Andrew Perrin, “Home broadband adoption, computer ownership vary by race, ethnicity in the U.S.,” Pew Research Center, July 16, 2021; Applying a racial equity lens to digital literacy: How workers of color are affected by digital skill gaps, National Skills Coalition, Mar 20, 2020.

End of image description

To read the article, see “Closing the digital divide in Black America,” January 18, 2023.