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  • Writer's pictureItzel Santiago Pastrana

Where Are They Now? Then to Now and Back

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

It seems now that 2019 was forever ago as a lot has happened in 2020. So let us rewind back to a cool Sunday on October 27, 2019, where something extraordinary took place. A 19-year old innovator took the stage at Seattle Washington’s TEDxYouth event along with seven other young speakers, dreamers, innovators, and social justice warriors.

This then 19-year old was an Oakland, California native, whose curiosity surrounding technology led him to start coding at the age of 13. He was led by a fundamental need to create social impact and to change the world's perspective on race through technology. At 16, he founded and became the CEO of George Hofstetter Technologies Inc. (GHTECH); at 17, he created the app CopStop to save lives and help prevent police brutality using the highest quality of information that is available. And at age 18, he created Up To Code Academy, to “be the bridge of access” in the digital divide. (The digital divide separates those who have the privilege and access to computer science curriculum and to learning at their own pace from those who do not.) Up to Code Academy is now being used by three public schools across the nation.

That then 19-year old was George Hofstetter, and when he took the stage that October day in 2019, he spoke of the need for actual inclusion, how curiosity had changed his life, and the racial disparity of the 2% that is black/latinx in predominantly white spaces --in this case the tech industry -- that left him with an all-too familiar feeling of isolation and not belonging. He then found the need to be a creator and “not someone else's consumer,” and it has led him to create extraordinary things with the sky as his limit. His vision is that technology redefined can be a “social justice superpower.”

TEDx Youth Seattle’s 2019 theme “It’s Time” was about encouraging our communities to act now. George’s call to action was that it was time to be curious and question the structures and systems currently in place, and to imagine a world without the influence of white supremacy.

Now, TEDxYouth@Seattle has invited back four of last year's youth speakers for this year's theme “Together.” TEDxYouth@Seattle asks each to share their thoughts on how the events of the last year have impacted their ideas and/or their work. Catching up with George, TEDx asks him: what do we need to come together? From Oakland, California, George talks about how his work has shifted and is focused on building new platforms and projects alike in the current environment. George also touches on the importance of supporting mental health and therefore focusing on your internal self. A nod to a life lesson that 2020 has driven home for all of us, that anything can change in a blink of an eye and the importance of finding balance within.

George also speaks about the need for action and police brutality. Across America and the world, there has been a call to action to dismantle the pillars of oppression, with America being the loudest voice calling to defund the police. George states the importance of defunding the police either by gradual or significant means, but that the time is now and it needs to happen.

In line with this year's theme, George speaks to the importance for all to come together, to move as a collective for our voices to be heard, so that those in power can no longer ignore our deafening calls for social justice. Only this way can actual change and action happen within the very system and our communities.

To watch George Hofstetter's 2019 talk, click here.

Also, check out the full interview with George in the first episode of Where Are They Now?, available here.

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