It’s no secret that the world is changing, but some parts are changing faster than others. In recent years, the finance sector saw massive disturbances, primarily caused by the disruptive arrival of a range of impressive new crypto technologies.
Seizing an enormous market share, the blockchain and its prospective use cases quickly made waves and changed how everyone from retail investor to hedge fund manager saw the world and their wallets.
On the surface, this might appear to be yet another symptom of a wider trend of progressive change in the 21st century. Digital sounds fair. A reduction in the barrier to entry from last century's unnecessarily complex portfolio algorithms to the tap of a smartphone.
We all have smartphones and credit cards – yes, it all sounds so fair and good, doesn't it? Finally marginalized communities can get a piece of the action.
If you thought that, however, you'd be wrong. You'd be wrong when we first raised the issue years ago and you'd still be wrong today.
Crypto might have changed our perception of money, but it hasn't made a dent in the prevailing and oppressive power structures of our society. It hasn't done anything about participation suppression being orchestrated by KYC – Know Your Customer – laws that are no different from the illegal practice of requiring an ID at the voter booth.
In fact, if statistics are to be believed, it has only reinforced them. This is perhaps best seen in the face of the average crypto investor and developer; one that remains disturbingly straight, white, and male.
This brings us to our central question. If we are to see the financial system undergo a revolutionary change, if a monumental shift in the distribution of wealth is to occur as so many pundits predict, do we not have an obligation to ensure that the beneficiaries of this seismic event are representative of the changing face of America?
A WEF report earlier this year suggests both women and other oppressed minority factions are severely underrepresented in the space, making up just 11% of all involved. Given the enormous capital gains seen by many nearly exclusively heterosexual, white, male investors and developers, perhaps it is time we called crypto (in its current state) what it really is: the latest tool of white supremacist privilege, designed to buttress and advance a disparity in wealth defined by race above all else.
While this critique is both real and fair, none of this is to suggest we write the promising new technology off and return to older technology, nor that we inhibit or tamper with it in any way.
The implication is rather to the contrary; we believe that if enough social pressure is applied to the blockchain space, we can ensure the profits benefit everyone.
This would be consistent with many of the policies championed by forward-leaning thinkers like Cortez, an incredible and principled woman who has stopped at nothing in her quest to speak truth to power, to push for socially equitable programs, wealth redistribution, higher taxation and ultimately a more progressive and equitable society.
According to Cortez, we can do better, and we will do better, but only if we use our voice to encourage a fairer and kinder society – a society that isn't defined by dollars and cents, ego or hatred. If we speak with one voice, they will have to listen.
So speak up, speak loudly, speak clearly; BIPOC and women are here, and we're ready to become part of the blockchain – like it or not.