Black Digerati: Rodney O. Lain

11Sep08

"iBrotha" Rodney O. Lain

Let me start by confessing that I am an Apple addict and I pretty much purchase close to every product they put out, including the 3G iPhone that I stood in line 4 hours to buy! So it’s only fitting that I would be currently reading this book (with all colored pages) called “The Cult of Mac” by Leander Kahney. The book basically takes the reader inside the world of the Mac addict. There is one story in the book about a Mac enthusiast that I was instantly drawn to because the guy called himself “iBrotha”.

Now iBrotha is a black guy by the name of Rodney O. Lain who was known to hold various full-time day jobs and worked part-time as a Mac columnist/evangelist and at local computer superstores for the pure pleasure of preaching and selling Macs face-to-face. Rodney was known by many names within the Mac community notably “iBrotha”, “Angry Mac Man”, and the “black Guy Kawasaki” after Apple’s former pitch man.

His writing as a Mac columnist earned him a large and dedicated audience on the web. A cool thing about this brother is that he would use the Mac platform as a way of writing about issues like poverty, racism, and politics. He would grab readers to his columns attention by using catchy titles like “Vaulting computer users to civil rights martyrs” or “The Macintosh is the Nigger of the Computer Industry“. Rodney worked full time as a technical supervisor at UPS before he was hired full time at Power on Software, a Mac software publisher, after operations manager Corey Johnson at Power On witnessed Rodney selling Macs to a group of customers.

The sad and tragic part of Rodney’s story is that he shot himself at his home in Eagan, Minnesota, back in June of 2002. Reports about his death state that his widow Irma found her 34 year old husband shortly after he killed himself. It was also reported that he’d been treated for depression, but some of his friends say he stopped taking his medication a few days before his death.

This story stood out to me for several reasons. For one Rodney was a black technologist who lived his life with enthusiasm and passion. What is your passion? The story also stood out because he struggled with depression which is not a topic (e.g. mental health) that is talked abuot very much in the black community. I appreciate authors like Terrie Williams who took this issue of mental health in the black community head on by writing the book ‘Black Pain: It Just Looks like we’re Not Hurting.’ I encourage anyone reading this post to find your passion if you haven’t found it already and pursue it with enthusiasm. Lastly, if you struggle with depression PLEASE reach out to someone you trust before you even consider taking your life.

R.I.P Rodney O. Lain… The iBrotha

Mikey Digital

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