The Digital Divide and Reproductive Justice

Guest speaker Joshua Brietbart, from the NYC Mayors office of Broadband. Brietbart spoke at length about the access to internet in NYC and the various components of digital access and movements. One of the biggest wins he spoke of were the newly installed NYC Link Kiosks for free wifi that is replacing the payphones through out the city, and serving as a way for people to charge their phone devices. This service is completely free because of advertising, so companies can pay to have their ads be featured on the machine.

Breitbart went on to speak about the digital divide which began around 1996 in the Clinton era and this focused on what he called the binary division of on and on the internet. The digital divide speaks about the gap that still is present between the rich and the poor in regards to internet access. Those who are rich and educated continue to receive the adequate access to resources, as compared to those who are from low-income families who may attend low performing skills, and miss out on gaining valuable tech skills to compete and keep up with information or information overload at that.

Although our speaker spoke at length about various components to the digital wave, the two in addition to the things mentioned above that are relevant to reproductive justice are the digital equity and digital justice. I believe that the movement for reproductive justice, the talks about health care, a women’s right to choose, and resources that are available, are happening online. And those without access continue to loose out. Apart for there being known economic inequities surrounding those areas, the lack of digital equity makes it harder for those who do not have money to aggregate resources to find care. The biggest example of this in the Obama administration was the fact that the Affordable Care Act required people to access the website healthcare.gov

Things like the Link Kiosk are crucial to help change the way some low income communities access the internet, which in turn can help their access to health literacy. One example of this that I see every week are the kiosks in East Harlem near the school of Silberman where many of the local residents are using the machines to charge their devices and use the tablets for either music. However, there is a distrust with low income residents and health technoglogy .With new apps for health literacy, and reproductive health such as the one that planned parenthood showed us in class, I believe that the city can begin to promote some apps on the home page of the kiosks to help promote them and the users may then begin to explore the apps. I believe that with the right push, residents can begin to bridge the health care world to the digital world with those resources.

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