Nov 12, 2020
David J. Johns is known for his passion, public policy acumen and fierce advocacy for youth. He is an enthusiast about equity—leveraging his time, talent and treasures to address the needs of individuals and communities often neglected and ignored. A recognized thought leader and social justice champion, David’s career has focused on improving life outcomes and opportunities for Black people.
On September 1, 2017, David Johns began his next life chapter as the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC)—a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS. NBJC’s mission is to end racism, homophobia, and LGBTQ bias and stigma.
In 2013, Johns was appointed as the first executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (Initiative) by President Barack H. Obama and served until the last day of the Obama Administration in January, 2017. The Initiative worked across federal agencies and with partners and communities nationwide to produce a more effective continuum of education and workforce development programs for African American students of all ages. Under his leadership, the Initiative studied the experiences of students—leveraged a partnership with Johnson Publishing Company (EBONY Magazine) to produce a series of African American Educational Summits (AfAmEdSummits) at college campuses throughout the country, where the only experts who sat in front of the White House seal were students as young as elementary school. The recommendations that students made at AfAmEdSummits have been used to improve policies, programs and practices, including curriculum, designed to ensure that students thrive—both in school and in life.
Prior to his White House appointment, Johns was a senior education policy advisor to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) under the leadership of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Before working for the Senate HELP Committee, Johns served under the leadership of the late U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA). Johns also was a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Fellow in the office of Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY). Johns has worked on issues affecting low-income and minority students, neglected youth, early childhood education, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). His research as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow served as a catalyst to identify, disrupt and supplant negative perceptions of black males—both within academia and society. Johns is committed to volunteer services and maintains an active commitment to improve literacy among adolescent minority males.
Johns has been featured as an influential politico and advocate by several publications and outlets, including TheRoot.com, NBC, EBONY and The Washington Post. Johns is a prominent strategist who offers commentary for several media outlets including BET, CNN, EducationPost and TV One.
David is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in sociology and education policy at Columbia University. Johns obtained a master’s degree in sociology and education policy at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he graduated summa cum laude while simultaneously teaching elementary school in New York City. He graduated with honors from Columbia University in 2004 with a triple major in English, creative writing and African American studies. Johns was named to the Root100 in both 2013 and 2014, selected as a member of the Ebony Power 100 in 2015, and received an early career award from Columbia University, Teachers College in 2016. He has also served as an adjunct professor at American University.
Johns, D., 2020. Don’t Make the Internet Unwelcome to Diverse Communities, Especially Black and Latinx LGBTQ People. [Blog] Morning Consult, Available at: <https://morningconsult.com/opinions/dont-make-the-internet-unwelcome-to-diverse-communities-especially-black-and-latinx-lgbtq-people/> [Accessed 11 November 2020].
JOE: Hey everybody. So here we are on the other side of the election. They're still counting the votes. But this thing looks over. Even in the face of several lawsuits, President Trump has brought to challenge the election results, Biden's win is only becoming more decisive. The president-elect is on track to win by over 5 million popular votes, bringing his total to more than 80 million, more than any presidential candidate in history, and he still has another 75 likely electoral votes outstanding in Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. So ... we're pretty much done here.
Hit me up. (866) 482-3898. Leave your thoughts! Maybe we’ll use them in a future episode. (866) 482-3898. What tech policy issues should the Biden administration and Congress focus on? Let us know. (866) 482-3898. Save it to your contacts. So, you know, I don’t have to say the number over and over again.
Like a ShamWow commercial.
So that brings us to -- what will the next 4+ years look like in terms of tech policy? Obviously, China will be a major issue, and particularly Huawei. It will be interesting to see whether the Biden administration continues its ban of U.S. companies doing any business with Huawei whatsoever. Key allies haven’t supported the Trump administration’s ban, citing their reliance on Huawei technology. Outside of technology, what are the chances of war with China over the coming years, as China has continued to object to the U.S. presence in the South China Sea? What happens there directly affects the tech markets--war would certainly have a major impact on the supply chain. So that is definitely something to watch out for.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which states that platforms aren’t legally responsible for the content their users post, has been an issue, as you know, with the Trump administration attempting to get the FCC--an independent agency, no less -- to use Section 230 to rein in what some conservatives see as an “anti-conservative bias” on platforms like Twitter. I’d be very surprised to see the Biden administration continue down that path. It’s just a huge waste of administrative, legislative and judicial resources for a policy that, I believe, would ultimately lose on First Amendment grounds once it hit the Supreme Court. Republicans and some Democrats could certainly purse reforming Section 230. But we’ll have to see if Josh Hawley is as passionate about illegal sexual content, and sex trafficking, as he says he is, and pursues Section 230 as vigorously as he has up until now.
And another issue, I think, that we haven’t heard a lot about but probably should since we saw growth among Latino and Black working-class voters voting for Trumpism, is the Future of Work. What does the future of work look like for Americans in a tech sector that hasn’t done anything meaningful, other than releasing diversity reports, to improve diversity and inclusion -- nothing observable, I should say, because we can’t see everything that’s going on--all we see are the numbers which are pretty sad--they don’t look anything like the U.S. population. And you have companies like IBM already lobbying the Biden administration to fill the government skills gap by working with these same companies. The same companies hiring from the same 5 schools. We have over 5,000 colleges in the United States, many of which offer amazing programs -- since they’re accredited, right? -- they have amazing programs but don’t have the endowments--they don’t have the marketing budgets--for various, historical reasons we don’t need to get into. We hear a lot about recruiting from HBCUs. That’s great! But we have many many state and local colleges with incredible diversity -- Minority Serving Institutions -- with Black, Latino, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Native American students -- that don’t get much advocacy at all. Why is that?
So those are just 3 areas I’m certainly going to be watching. There are many, many others, we’ll get to them on future episodes …
Let’s get into Section 230 -- David Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, and someone I greatly, and many, greatly respect and admire this man for his sheer intellect and incredible interpersonal skills. He is an enthusiast about equity—leveraging his time, talent, and treasures to address the needs of individuals and communities often neglected and ignored. A recognized thought leader and social justice champion, David’s career has focused on improving life outcomes and opportunities for Black people. David Johns.