21.3.16

Who is She? 15- Susan and Zakiya (Hack the Hood)

I met both Zakiya and Susan several years ago here in Oakland. Susan Mernit and Zakiya Harris are the Co-Founders of a ground breaking Oakland based organization called "Hack the Hood". The organization brings in mostly African American and other students of color to learn about the tech field. From the interview I heard with Zakiya on "Blacks in Technology" it sounds like a stretch for some at first, but they soon realize that everywhere they go they are no only participating in the tech industry but they can be active makers and producers in it as well. The students learn basic and complex coding skills by building websites for local businesses. They are not only learn coding, but they learn people skills, how to work with clients, and what it takes to run a business-therefore bringing more people of color into a extremely white, homogenized, and exclusive field.  Along with other organizations like Code 2040 they are changing the landscape of tech and empowering young people to be creators.

Susan comes from a background in tech, working for corporations such as Yahoo, Aol, and Netscape. She also founded or Co-founded several media and tech savvy businesses here in the Bay Area such as Oakland Local. She is the CEO and Executive director of "Hack the Hood". 

Zakiya I know from Oakland's historic arts culture of music. She was one half of the group Fiyawata, is currently working on a solo music project called "ShapeShifter". Zakiya has a long history of community organizing and youth education through organizations such as Grind for the Green at Ella Baker Center, TED, The Youth Leadership Institute, Global Exhcnage, and countless others. She is also a founding member of Oakland's Impact Hub which is the only HUb out of many worldwide run by Black women!
Sources: Blacks in Technology (podcast), http://www.hackthehood.org/our-team.html(site)

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