Most people go to Taco Bell for the tacos but two little girls went to access the chain’s free Wi-Fi. A picture of those girls was posted online and it has gone viral. They were using the Wi-Fi to do their schoolwork because they don’t have access to the Internet at home.
After being posted, the picture caused people to start discussing the need for easier access to the Internet in the US. Minority and lower-income households seem to be disproportionately off-line. When you don’t have access to the Internet, you are limited in many ways.
The Taco Bell is located in Northern California. According to KION, the girls are students in the Salinas City Elementary School District. It isn’t just these young girls who are lacking in Internet, there are many people in the United States that rely on libraries and cafés to connect. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many of those locations are shut down.
Two students sit outside a Taco Bell to use Wi-Fi so they can ‘go to school’ online.
This is California, home to Silicon Valley…but where the digital divide is as deep as ever.
Where 40% of all Latinos don’t have internet access. This generation deserves better. pic.twitter.com/iJPXvcxsLQ
— Kevin de Leόn (@kdeleon) August 28, 2020
According to one person who replied on Twitter, people will often drive to the library and sit in the parking lot so they can connect. Wi-Fi in those areas is an essential service, but many children and adults are missing out because access is uneven.
“There has been a lot of embarrassing events coming out of this country in the last few years but this an absolute disgrace,” one Twitter user writes. “You’d think all our trillions of dollars going into billionaire pockets could be better spent on upgrading our utilities so everyone has fast free internet.”
I’ve notified both Superintendents of Alisal Union & Salinas City Elementary School Districts as that area is the dividing line between both in Salinas. These students likely from Sherwood Elem. Asked for staff to look out for students in this situation &troubleshoot connectivity pic.twitter.com/MBvIo0gEJC
— Luis Alejo (@SupervisorAlejo) August 26, 2020
The school district stated that there are students who have problems connecting to the Internet because they don’t have access. An Internet hotspot has been provided to the family and more orders for hotspots are pending.
According to KION, President of the Board, Amy Ish, said, “The digital divide is very real and delays in receiving needed technology are a statewide concern. We are grateful the State is making technology a priority and look forward to receiving these hotspots in our district.”
One of the Instagram users who updates on the girls, @flowerinspanish, said that the mother is an essential worker raising three daughters. At first, she didn’t want assistance but after accepting help, they were able to stay in a hotel so they could be safe and access what was needed.
They also set up a GoFundMe account to help the family. It turns out that they are also facing a September eviction from their apartment and have not yet located a new place to stay.
“Thanks to help from donations and Flor (@flowerinspanish) we were able to get her a week in a hotel room for her and her girls while we help her search for a more permanent place to live,” says the GoFundMe page. “For now they are safe but they need as much help as they can get. Thank you for helping change their lives.”
Over $146,000 has been raised so far to help the family.
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