I'm of North African descent, born and raised in france and this passage really hit home.
> I don't really know that there's any solution to this, it's just something we have to live with.
Unfortunately there isn't. I don't know much about the American social structure and context, but over here, colonialist views are very much embedded into the collective subconscious, leading to sometimes very despicable behaviour (even though it may not be malicious).
The thing I find the most difficult is to suppress the urge of turning this into a "Us vs Them" thing because reality is much more complex than what we perceive but living with an inner "respectability police officer" can become extremely tiring. All of this to say that I choose to ignore the noise and focus on the positive. At the end of the day, we live in an era where this is how the game is played and we've been dealt a bad hand. I accept it and will do everything I can to help create a world where my children don't have to go through the same things as me.
I will end my comment with a piece of actionable advice anybody in a similar position might benefit from: Make yourself visible. I say this because a lot of the younger kids in my racial group (north west/west africa) don't even consider this industry as a viable career option even though they may have an interest or a strong ability. They just dismiss the possibility entirely. This doesn't mean we have to force our kids to become SWDs/POs/PMs/<insert tech job du jour>s but making yourself visible (via youtube videos, conference talks, going to local schools to introduce your job ...) can have a massive impact in having those kids think "Hey he/she looks like me, maybe I can follow a similar path".
EDIT: added last paragraph
That pretty well describes the majority of American culture on this issue, as I understand it. There are those who are malicious, but I don't think they are much larger a minority than anywhere else.
I probably share much more with a Moroccan software engineer than I do with a local white blue collar worker.
Although with the engineers that studied in North africa (which we have a lot of in software), I feel closer to the kind that embraced french lifestyle and obviously plan on aging here, than those who seem to regret their homeland and stick to its traditions and look like they're just cashing in.
But I get it. I'd probably look the same if I had to go live in the US.
Of course, it didnt work. Regardless of how nice and polite W.E.B. Du Bois was, the state department still revoked his passport for his uncomfortable habit of reporting systemic racism in America to European and British intellectuals.
Dont feel like you owe people anything. Be yourself. Speaking as a card-carrying white male who works as an engine mechanic, the thing that makes an industry suck (or anything for that matter) is racists. Rebuilding the drivetrain on a box truck is hard work, but its doubly unpleasant having to listen to some old grease-monkey lecture you on what they think about "the negro."
If it was only just that, its actually a lot more that. You have prove that you have un-blackened yourself. Dissociate from your communities, and have renounced the community's ways(so-called).
More like the other side needs to be made to feel you are one among them.
It's a soul crushing exercise. Its undoing of one's identity. And it's very humiliating to undergo all this.
Which isn't to devalue your experience - speech patterns in particular are likely an area where you have to code-switch much more drastically than, say, northern whites.
You have just described my entire professional life. It feels great to know I'm not alone in this boat. Much empathy for you and what you're going through at the moment.
> Dissociate from your communities, and have renounced the community's ways(so-called)
This is one of the core reasons why I'm seriously considering starting my own company.
People can grasp hate, and violence. But they can't really see the effects of simply seeing someone as "other" based on race. And it's everywhere in the US.
It's strange. Americans just don't have deep vocabulary for ethnicity, really. It's all just race.
You could claim that Black otherness has special characteristics and this being hackernews I would assume good faith and believe you that racism in its non-outward facet is palpable and ethically bad. But that's not what you said -- you said people compartmentalize and that's bad period. That's an interesting kind of misguided.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr is spot-on in his frustration with "the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."
And its not just racism, its sexism, classism, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia, child soldiers in Africa, terrorism abroad, FGM, corruption, homelessness, child abuse, cartel violence, drug epidemics... Seriously impossible to grasp. And moreover, the vast majority of people do not publicly observe offenses at the same rate as people who receive offenses so most of the time its just concerns that one reads off the internet or hears second hand. All this stress and empathy over things that don't even exist in your sights... I know many people will think this is a gross argument, that I am saying to remain ignorant or inactive while people are being oppressed, but at some point you have to just throw your hands up, resolve to do the right thing when you encounter a problem and live your own life.
This problem is something that ted kaczynski wrote about in detail and I think its an even more important problem now with information spreading so quickly, so much call to activism, and even dramatization of issues.
I think the underlying assumption is that a "racist" is someone who spouts bigotry 24/7, and that racism is black and white (pardon the pun) rather than a spectrum, where even an otherwise "decent" person can act or say something racist on occasion. This is why the common refrain after a person does a thing that is blatantly racist is "I am not racist - everyone who knows me knows this is not who I am" despite the empirical evidence.
It was a smart and funny talk, and I'm now looking forward to reading her book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07638ZFN1
In interviews I got a lot of "culture" questions where younger folks who I went to school with who interviewed at the same place ... reported getting no such questions. It's easy to imagine that is about age.
Another classmate actually had a recruiter straight up say his age was a concern, when he asked her to repeat that, she straight up repeated it apparently having no clue how wrong it was.
Not exactly the same as race, but I feel like I have to prove myself a bit more all the time.
I do come off rather young in person, but my resume is clear about my work experience, graduation date and so on. Even with the one case where I suspected age discrimination was at play it was only after the fact when the recruiter said the company passed because they decided to go with someone more 'malleable' (for a sr. role, mind you) where the average engineer was probably about 25 yo.
Not saying it's not an issue, there's many reports out there of people experiencing it, but perhaps it's more restricted to the valley or not quite as common as implied. I say this as someone who was nervous about entering my 40s for this reason alone and have been pleasantly surprised to find it to be a non-issue for myself.
When my friend visited me in Silicon Valley he told me it's not that diverse -- at least not in the way we would want diversity to work. He told me that next time I go out to eat, I should look through the windows of all the nice restaurants I walk by and see who the customers are and who the workers are. My friend is right. There are under and upper classes in SV and it's often clustered by race. I never noticed because I'm Asian and I'm in the group that benefited.
Not much difference in the end of course, and still a major societal issue. But a different one.
Greenwood was a prosperous black area near Tulsa, doing so well that it was known as "Black Wall Street". White resentment eventually boiled over and 35 blocks were burned to the ground. Hundreds were killed, and it included many horrors, including white people using then-new airplanes to firebomb the neighborhood from above.
If you read Loewen's "Sundown Towns" you can find plenty more incidents where white resentment of black success led to oppression, violence, and sometimes death.
E.g. I'm naturally gregarious, will chat up folks in line at the gas station buying a Coke etc. I noticed one day I didn't chat up anybody that didn't look like me. So I started.
Your feelings are valid but also can be misplaced at the same time. I think it is a poor way to start the day assuming everybody is going to think the worse is you. That may be something a support group or therapy might help with.
I say this comming from a place where I suffered the same issues. And found changing my attitude actually changed how I viewed other people.
Please don't take my reply as a attack on you. I simply feel your reply reflects similar views I had held at one point in life. And I found not worrying and not setting expectations on my peers really helped me to feel at home in situations that made me feel much like you describe.
On the other hand I can't possibly know your entire story from a small bit you shared.
While I evaluate people I interact with on a individual level, I often have stereotypes in my head about people I don't directly interact with.
When I see people of color or women in the industry, my first thought is always "ah yes, diversity".
When I see white dudes I think aboit what he does and knows.
While this may be true, I find the problem you are describing to be much worse for immigrants (of every colour and race) who speak with thick accent. https://qz.com/624335/the-reason-you-discriminate-against-fo...
Obviously it would be foolish to think that no one out there is prejudiced, or that there are no systematic problems in certain places, but based on what you said here it sounds like you have not so much encountered these situations personally, rather you have lived in fear of encountering them.
It may very well be self-fulfilling. But my point is that this issue doesn't exist for white people. You can live with the fear of impostor syndrome and not feeling qualified enough, etc. But your completely unchangeable physical appearance does not contribute to that. Every shortcoming that could possibly exclude you from any job is within your control to fix and work on, whereas we will always be left with this single unpredictable variable no matter what.
Here it is again: there are many completely unchangeable physical appearance features that can afflict anyone, not just people of color. The claim that every shortcoming is within your control to fix, is overstated.
I didn't mean to minimize the societal issue addressed; just this hyperbolic comment.
Especially not when the topic is inflammatory and the discussion has managed to remain civil so far. Then it's vandalism, if not arson.
In my opinion, humans are inherently xenophobic and suspicious of anything that is unfamiliar or an outlier. Evolution shaped us this way. So you cannot eradicate all the pain, fear and suffering caused by xenophobia, not by a long shot. People with negative traits (in other people's eyes) need to learn to live with them, and they do it all the time. I am not by any means arguing for racism, of course. We still need to teach that racism is bad, but at the same time we should ask ourselves: are we blowing this thing out of proportions? If we as a society are already near the point of maximum tolerance, then insisting on further corrective measures (such as so called "affirmative action", i.e. discrimination to groups seen as the oppressors) may make things worse for everyone by raising resentment and heating up the hate as opposed to reducing it.
If you're interested in moving beyond that, I'd suggest starting with the recent books from DiAngelo  and Oluo . Or for a more personal take, the recent memoir from Julie Lythcott-Haims is good at conveying how pervasive this stuff is, and how much pain that causes.
I have a new team member joining us in a couple weeks and he's black. My intent is to try damn hard to completely ignore that fact, without appearing to be ignoring it, if that makes any sense. Where I live is predominantly white, so he definitely will stand out. As far as I can remember, there is exactly one other black employee on the entire floor.
I'm probably just worrying for nothing. We really do have a team of good people and I'm not just saying that.
Let your coworker come to you as they are. Take them to coffee, get to know them, and ask how you can help them feel welcome and be at their best at work. Sounds like a lot of work and effort on your part, but the burden is on you the majority to earn back the trust broken by lived experience.
This is also not guaranteed to work. You’re fighting against a mindset developed over someone’s lifetime that’s akin to an alarm that you might think is noisy and not tuned properly but has become necessary for this person’s survival and psychological safety because they face threats to those things at a frequency and level you never have to see.
Racism isn’t the act of acknowledging someone’s otherness, it’s letting that otherness drive your interactions with someone and not giving them the opportunity to talk about who they are as a person. Racism is every time you go to lunch, it’s a barbecue place and you don’t invite your coworker because you don’t want them to think you’re stereotyping but you also don’t want to talk to them so you just go without them anyway without asking your coworker if they want to come because it’s easier. Racism isn’t the act of starting the uncomfortable conversations, it’s not giving those conversations a time and place to happen at all.
A single person can not be a majority, and claiming someone has a responsibility to treat someone with kid gloves because they are a member of the majority race is pretty extreme. I really have a hard time believing someone actually believes the thoughts expressed in this post. Doing any of this in your workplace is a terrible idea.
I beg to differ. In Asia being white is a massive advantage. It's literally the reverse of what you describe. It weirds me out tbh. Sorry you have to deal with the opposite.
I've personally worked with a lot of great Indian developers (H1Bs, naturalized U.S. citizens, and native born U.S. citizens). I've never worked with an Indian outsourcing firm, but I've also never heard anything good about them from people who have.
I don’t know how we get there but we eventually need to just get over skin color. When we interact with other people we generally don’t even notice or think about what color eyes or what their nose shape is. We should be able to get to that point regarding all aspects of physical appearance.
That boss also didn't stay my boss either.
In fact, let me tell a story. I was once working at a large, successful tech company as a manager. One of my interns was black. Super sharp, very personable, in an ivy league college, and, as will become relevant, a very sharp dresser. The average white male developer wore a t-shirt and a hoodie; he wore nice, stylish collared shirts. Every day he looked good.
Between our area and the nearest kitchenette was an elevator lobby. One day, he gets up to get more coffee, walks into the elevator lobby, goes to the other side, and realizes he left his badge on his desk. He is now trapped.
Now I had done that exact same thing more than once. What happened to me? Well, I waited around for somebody to walk by, tapped on the door, and said, "So sorry, I just left my badge on my desk." They'd smile in recognition, say something pleasant, and wave me in.
What happened to him in the same situation? He got the third degree. Who was he? Who did he work for? What did he work on? How long had he worked there? Etc, etc. It was clear the (white) guy he was talking to was suspicious that he didn't belong there, that he was not the programmer intern he said he was.
When he got back to his desk he looked distressed. I, not wanting my interns to be unhappy, pried a bit. He told me the story, leaving out any details on the person. He was confident it was unconscious bias; he didn't think his fellow programmer meant harm and didn't want to get him in trouble. But still, it bothered him. Even in this supposedly very cerebral, very liberal place, people immediately saw him as not belonging.
That of course wouldn't have happened if he'd had me with him. Because if I, a white person, were treating him as if he belonged, then he would have been seen as belonging there by the other white people.
Now as a good corporate citizen I (with his permission) mentioned this to HR. I thought they'd want to know that an unconscious bias incident had happened. No names, nobody getting in trouble. Just letting them know so they could tally it and, if the numbers warranted, give more training on unconscious bias. Not just for interviews, which we already had, but more generally.
I quickly got a reply back from a high-up HR lawyer, who was entirely defensive. Their main point was that surely this (anonymous) white person couldn't have meant anything by it, that there was no legal problem here. Well duh, I used the words "unconscious bias", so of course I knew there was nothing meant by it. I just wanted them to take it seriously, because actual harm had been done. But they gave me the brush-off.
Happily, I also talked to the black employee resource group, who jumped on it. The intern ended up feeling heard and that the incident was taken seriously. Which was a relief to me. But it made me aware how often this sort of nonsense happened, and how rarely the harm it does to my black colleagues gets taken at all seriously.
This is a conflict between separate attempts to solve the problem.
On the one hand there is yours -- if we report this when it happens then having the information will aid in solving the problem.
On the other hand, there are laws creating liability for companies that discriminate against employees. Someone could use records like this against the company in court, so you are creating undesirable liability for the company by reporting it.
This is a common problem. If you allow plaintiffs to use a company's records against them, they either stop keeping them or the record keeping becomes a compliance issue driven by lawyers concerned with corporate liability, which then takes precedence over other concerns like using the information to meticulously measure and resolve issues.
Nobody likes to admit that trade offs like this exist, but it takes admitting that they do to get to the point of being able to evaluate which method is more effective and choosing between them.
Fortunately there is a win-win solution to this - unconscious bias training! Minority employee and manager's lives get a little easier, company shows that it cares and made corrective/CYA action, any employee who discriminates on race will clearly be doing it against company policy. Pretending like it didn't happen is the worst policy, IMO, because it gives an impression of condoning such behaviour, which creates more liability.
It's not a win if unconscious bias training doesn't actually work. I have yet to see it change the behavior of racist people. Do you have any papers that show that it works?
So far it just seems like a way for a company to cover their ass via a PR stunt that disrupts a bunch of employees' days.
> So far it just seems like a way for a company to cover their ass via a PR stunt that disrupts a bunch of employees' days.
Quick question - do you feel the same about sexual harassment training? I think it's good for every employee to be clear on the common baseline on what behavior the company deems unacceptable and the consequences thereof.
Let's detach this from racism for a moment, and hypothesize on ethics. A number of companies have/had issues with staff members virtually stalking users. Would you rather colleagues not report such incidents for fear of creating legal liability? Should the companies not have a policy against this and offer training on ethical handling of user data? No amount of company training will cure an engineer's creepiness, but drawing lines in the sand is important - it might prevent creepy behavior while they are on the clock - even if it may look like its CYA.
Things that come from a CYA perspective are compromised. The motivation is to check a box at the lowest available cost, which is not the recipe for competence. It's not hard to screw something like that up and end up training people to consciously consider race when making decisions.
There is legitimately a trade off between honestly convincing people to care about something and passing laws requiring them to appear to care about it under penalty of financial liability.
Oh, wait. Maybe we're talking about different problems. My problem is my intern having a bad experience due to unconscious racial bias. What problem are you trying to solve?
Lawyers exist to mitigate legal risks, not to solve racism. The parent was just pointing out that anything documented that admits racism occurred creates legal liability. The triggered the lawyers defense mechanisms where they need to clearly document that there was no discrimination in the legal sense.
So the point is that there needs to be a way to report unconscious bias events for data points that don't put the company at legal risk just by having them on record.
This is equivalent to "solving" software defects by refusing to record the bug because somebody is scared of a quality lawsuit. It not only doesn't help, it is very likely to make the problem worse.
That's why it's a conflict. The map is not the territory. If you give them an incentive to reduce reports of discrimination, they will have an incentive to reduce reports of discrimination. Which interferes with other methods that require meticulous reporting.
Perhaps you could do an experiment!
Absent fMRI recordings from the elevator lobby, I of course cannot prove that it was unconscious racial bias. But we can't prove most things in life with that level of evidence. Nevertheless, we have to operate in a complex and dynamic world. This is my best interpretation of events. It was also the best interpretation of the person present, of my boss, and of several other people in the company I discussed this with.
I guess my point is we're talking about unconscious bias, and your story seems like it could be an example of just that. If it's unconscious you wouldn't know -- we can assume something is racist that really isn't.
If we can't know, how can we approach these situations and be sure we're without bias; particularly if we want to call others out for their [apparent] unwarranted biases.
An example, a neighbour is a bit discomfiting to me, my wife refuses to be alone in his presence, but he's Polish; so is she xenophobic, or is he a jerk (or both I guess). He's the only Pole in our street, an outside observer could easily conclude she was being xenophobic.
Well-dressed is "over-dressed" if everyone else is wearing t-shirts.
If everyone is in t-shirts and skirt/slacks and I'm "well dressed" in a suit and tie, I'd say I'm overdressed in the context of that situation.
To be fair though you brought focus on how he was dressed when it sounds like you should have said "he was dressed normally for our office". It really came across as if he stood out because of his choice of clothes.
Which is of course the pattern of these discussions. In exactly the same way my intern got cross-examined for being black in a white space, any mention of racial bias gets cross-examined because white people are very eager to defend the honor of white people. How was he dressed? Was it too rough? Well then it must be that he dressed too well! Never mind that all of the other people dressing well don't get stopped. And this cross-examination happens despite the fact that the sort of racial bias described here is in no way rare and is demonstrated in all sorts of formal research and oceans of personal anecdote.
It was his judgment, my judgement, and my boss's judgment, that this was an unconscious racial bias incident. Neither HR nor the black employee group thought otherwise, and they deal with this stuff all the time. Is it possible we're all wrong? Sure. Is it possible that the anonymous white person was actually a space alien beamed down and probing our defenses? Sure. But based on the preponderance of the evidence, we decided what we decided.
If that's not good enough for an anonymous rando, that's fine by me. If you'd like to learn more, read any one of the books I've mentioned in this thread. Preferably DiAngelo's, as it goes into detail examining exactly the type of reaction you and others display here.
Now it's my turn to ask a question: why was it your immediate reflex to (rudely and dismissively) justify a situation that you know nothing about?
Because your story, as told, leaves that pretty massive gap. A supervisor in charge of interns being recognized vs the temporary intern not being recognized is the occam's razor answer that also popped into my head as well. The fact that you didn't offer any evidence as part of the story to explain why the obvious answer wasn't the answer does raise the question of whether or not that had occurred to you.
Oh, so "do you have some kind of telepathic mind reading powers" was a sincere query as to my abilities? Because in your experience it is a common thing that actually happens?
> since your story reads like fiction to me
Ah, this is another example of your politeness? Saying that it seems like a long-time participant posting under his real-world identity is just making things up? You will have to tell me more about which etiquette manual is telling you that assuming somebody is a liar is the friendly thing to do.
Second, I never said he was racist -- that's your interpretation. I specifically avoided that term because when white people are experiencing white fragility , which is certain to happen in a large group discussion like this, then they immediately cast any incident in into the common post-Civil-Rights-era frame of "racist=bad person" and start defending their fellow white person, who surely must be good. What I talked about was unconscious racial bias.
Third, your demanding "proof" is unreasonable. What would count? Should I have fMRI scans done of the person's brain under various stimuli? Even that wouldn't be enough; you could argue he might harbor racial bias, but that it wasn't active at the time he grilled my intern. I just looked at the last few pages of your comments here, and you have offered all sorts of reasonable opinions without ever giving a bit of proof. You are bringing up a standard that couldn't possibly apply and that you don't hew to yourself. You might ask yourself why.
Fourth, I included evidence. First, there was the testimony of the one witness who, even though he's still in college, has had to become an expert in America's still pervasive and demonstrable white bias against black people. Second, there was my testimony as to the nature of the environment and the rareness of an event like this. Third, as I mentioned, I talked about this with my boss. In all of our judgments, under the preponderance of the evidence, this was an unconscious racial bias incident. Nobody at the company thought otherwise, including HR and the black employee group, who deal with this sort of thing regularly at that company.
Fifth, it's not my job to prove anything to internet randos. It's your job to understand America's racial dynamics and how this fits in before commenting. I told this story knowing full well that I'd get salty replies from people who would react with instant denial to any description of a bias incident caused by someone like them (a well-meaning white tech dude). Why would they do that? Well, if you have studied American racial dynamics, you'll already know the answer to that. And if you haven't, I recommend that you read one or two of the four books I've already recommended in this discussion. You'll learn something.
You should note that you're very invested in defending the honor of a white person that is even to me totally anonymous. And then go read DiAngelo's book.
I'm not sure that reporting individual incidents of this to an HR department and causing resentment and division between people over these things is really worthwhile. It's just a fact of life as much as any other overarching, long running cultural tradition. Things are changing, but it's simply a generational issue that we are left with the legacy of institutionalized racism, purposely designed to legitimize industrial scale human exploitation.
But personally, I plan to raise a ruckus like this whenever I get the chance. MLK made a strong argument for creating a "constructive tension" . It was his theory that the necessary changes don't just happen, but require the discomfort of the people with the power to fix things. If my intern had wanted to let things lie, I certainly would have. But since he was ok with me reporting it, I saw it as my duty. To society certainly, but also to the company. They had a serious diversity effort and worked hard to give interns a good experience. I would have been negligent had I let an unconscious mistake from one employee undermine that.
Plus, as a white dude, it's easier for me to advocate for these changes. Not only because of my default privilege, but because I'm seen as a disinterested party. I never get accused of "playing the race card" or "misandry" when I come out against some racist or sexist nonsense. So I hope more white people will put their shoulders to the wheel here.
They would likely get the same "third degree" treatment. Why? Is it because global capitalism does not like football uniforms?
The more likely reason is that while one may not know every person in the company, they have a general idea of what the company composition is. One likely knows that this particular company does not have a lot of disabled people, or people who wear football uniforms, or black people. So anyone who does not fit the common profile will get more scrutiny.
This of course leaves the question of why isn't a black person common in the software company. I don't know an answer to that. Anecdotally, this starts at high school, if not earlier -- there were no black people in my high school calculus class for example, despite the school having ~25% of black students.
Two, I think your analogy is ridiculous. He was dressed perfectly well for the environment.
Three, he was not "visually distinct"; the skin albedo of African-Americans is of a similar range to South Asians. He was racially distinct.
Four, if you don't have any idea why there are fewer black people in high status jobs in America, let me suggest you read some history and sociology. This is a well-studied topic. Just in this thread I've mentioned four different books, any one of which would be a good starting point for you.
> Three, he was not "visually distinct"; the skin albedo of African-Americans is of a similar range to South Asians. He was racially distinct.
Are you saying that people who are racially distinct are not also visually distinct? I do not think this is the case. Skin albedo is not the only important thing, people also look a the face, so face features matter too.
Or are you saying that someone who is visually distinct, but not racially unusual, would not get special treatment? For example, imagine that you worked in the company for a long time, and never saw a man in wheelchair. Suddenly, there is a man in wheelchair asking to be let in. Would you let him in? Or would you ask him some questions to make sure he really works there?
> Four, if you don't have any idea why there are fewer black people in high status jobs in America, ...
I am much more interested why there were no black people in my high school calculus class (and similarly, disproportionately few black people in my college computer science classes) -- because it is pretty clear to me that if you did not take calculus in high school, the chances of you becoming a programmer are very slim.
I just googled and found this article: http://www.jbhe.com/features/49_college_admissions-test.html . That article, says the reasons are racist teachers, black parents, other black students, black neighborhoods, racist guidance counselors. As someone who is not teaching children in any capacity, I am not sure how can I help there. Sure, I can read the books so I feel more guilty -- but I am not sure how will it help to get more black students into the calculus classes.
The same author gave a great talk about the book: smart, funny, and very informative: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45ey4jgoxeU
I do agree that people are racially distinct, but only if people are trained from an early age to treat those specific racial as significant. In Africa there are 27 major ethnic groups; to Africans those are visually distinct. To Americans, they're all just "black". The category of "white" is similarly artificial.  The boundaries of "white" have varied greatly over the years. So yes, I agree Americans will quickly classify somebody by race, but it's not primarily a visual difference, but one of specific cultural training.
I am saying that "special" treatment is not at issue here. The treatment was not just special; it was somewhere between suspicious and hostile. One of my colleagues there was just short of 7 feet tall. He was visually distinct but read as white. He often got treated differently, but never suspiciously. I doubt a white dude in a wheelchair would have gotten the third degree; my expectation is that people would immediately open the door for him.
As to calculus in high school, I know plenty of people who are programmers without it. I certainly have never used calculus while coding, so it doesn't make a practical difference.
As to how you can help, I think the best things to do are a) learn about America's history here, b) learn what present-day social structures help continue the diminished-but-still-ongoing oppression, and c) talking about them frankly. As somebody who didn't grow up here, you'll be able to see and talk about these things in a way that white people will listen to. Good books include Loewen's "Sundown Towns", Ijeoma Iluo's latest book, and Julie Lythcott-Haims recent memoir.
I hope that helps!
I could envision a similar scenario happening to the well-dressed white NBA player who forgot his badge and the staff of the practice gym are questioning if he really works there vs. tall black dude with hoodie and sweatband who gets let in right away because he doesn't look out of the ordinary.
Or males in the nursing. Or females in construction. The list goes on.
This is from what is said to be the post in question, cached here: https://outline.com/RVSLKq
"On a personal note, at least two or three times a day, every day, a colleague at MPK [Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park] will look directly at me and tap or hold their wallet or shove their hands down their pocket to clutch it tightly until I pass. The frequency is even higher when walking through Classic campus or Building 20. To feel like an oddity at your own place of employment because of the color of your skin while passing posters reminding you to be your authentic self feels in itself inauthentic."
So I'm a pretty typical privileged white guy working for Facebook at MPK. I care about diversity, and more importantly, I acknowledge these kinds of problem, even without knowing most of the details.
This just blows me away:
"...a colleague ... will look directly at me and tap or hold their wallet or shove their hands down their pocket to clutch it tightly until I pass..."
So first, I'll just ask: does this mirror your experience?
Can you talk more about that?
What can I do to help my peers not be physically afraid of black people??
Thanks for your attention.
As a brown muslim from India, let me tell you its the same with a lot of other people as well.
You get burned on language, color, race, nationality and religion end. Its like you tick all the check boxes on a racists checklist.
I think it's disingenuous to say "only my people REALLY suffer. You suffer... but not like we suffer".
Skin color is one part - and the listed parts (language, color, race, nationality, religion) are only the beginning. Sex, sexuality, eye color, hair color, height, weight, etc, etc, etc.
From what I understood there was more a problem with sexism than racism in tech.
Also from my understanding Hispanics have also been marginalised (thought maybe not to the same extent).
Id appreciate your thoughts.
It's not always virulent or violent, but it is always present.
Or they might also read the book the talk was based on: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0807047414
I once worked with an otherwise lovely Swedish software engineer, who was constantly spouting anti-Danish "jokes" and insults. It was disconcerting. I wasn't sure whether to stand up for the Danes, tell him a lie that my mother was Danish, or what. Is anti-Danish racism even a thing?
I agree with you in everything but that sentence. Others suffer some pretty painful misconceptions, or worse, are ignored.
"Is this person questioning my credentials because they question everyone's credentials?" "Was that crude comment made because they're just oblivious or because they're actually racist?" "Does this person treat everyone just as poorly, is it something I'm doing, or is it prejudice?"
Having to do that double mental processing can be exhausting if you're in an environment where people are insensitive or outright offensive. Some people handle it better than others but it can take its toll on anyone.
Certainly putting white or Asian would never be a detriment, but probably isn't a positive either. It's just neutral, default. I can't lie and say that I'm white or Asian, so should I just leave it blank? Then I'm hiding something. I must be black. Should I fill it out and say that I'm black, and pray to god that doesn't trigger some internal bias in the split second where someone decides to bin my application or not? Either way it's guaranteed to be a negative or a positive, not a neutral meaningless thing as it should.
That's basically my whole point. It's always going to be either a positive or a negative, not a neutral meaningless thing like it is for white guys. In your experience it's been positive, but I can't imagine that's always the case.
My point is that we can probably all find something to complain about and it irks me that white people are accused of being racist and undeserving in tech roles. I certainly don't feel like I have any sort of privilege; quite the opposite. I suspect this will be downvoted which is proof of my point.
Knowing that black people have it harder on average is not consoling to someone who got passed over because they didn't fulfill enough diversity check-boxes as another candidate.
Either white people are undeserving of tech roles...
Or white people are superior to black people.
You have to pick one or the other. I don’t see a third way to explain an employment gap.
It seems like it has more to do with one's views of the relative position of cultural values ("America is pretty good at equality of opportunity" vs. "America has some important systemic challenges around race that compromise equality") rather than level of racism on either side.
Unfortunately that difference seems to get misinterpreted both ways - with one side thinking (and saying) the others are racist because they don't support various race-targeted policies (or talk about systemic racism all the time), and the other side accusing the social-left of creating divides and problems by stoking race issues.
> one side thinking (and saying) the others are racists because they don't support various race-targeted policies (or talk about systemic racism all the time)
This completely ignores the actual racism that exists, and makes the social left out to be some group of insanely judgemental people that are so furious for reasons as small as "[people don't] talk about systemic racism all the time"
I don't know anyone who's mad about people not talking about systemic racism all the time. But I do know a lot of people who are furious about racism, and they talk about racism much more than "omg can you believe that someone doesn't support Affirmative Action" Or "wow, this person isn't thinking about systemic racism 24/7? How racist of them!"
Yes, people do discuss "race-targeted policies", and people can get judged for not agreeing with them. And although a certain degree of tribalism definitely exists (on both sides), if someone could provide me a good, clear argument against a "race-targeted policy" that also accounts for the issues that policy seeks to fix, then I'd happily agree with them (and not think they were racist). It's a shame so many discussions about those policies end up being arguments over the definition of racism (instead of, you know, how to lessen its extent and effects), and that is the problem with both sides.
You may agree with that - if you do, I'll turn it around on you and ask - if what I said was a blatant strawman, why does it seem like the majority of the social-right in America think that the social-left automatically consider them racists? That's a message I hear continuously from the American right-leaning press. Either there really is something there; or the media is misrepresenting how the right-leaning community thinks; or the right-leaning community thinks that but are flat-out wrong.
I also hear all three things when discussing systemic racism - it is really there; the media and academics are whipping up a problem where none exists; or the people in question do think there's a problem, but they're wrong and should get on with life.
You seemed to take offense at what I think was a pretty gentle characterization the tribalism seems to dominate discussion nowadays. (Well, offense at my description of one side of it, anyhow.) I think there's a parallel between your response to me and the response many socially-right people have toward systemic racism. I don't think either are helpful to discourse or solutions.
> media and academics are whipping up a problem where none exists
TL;DR: a large number of social-right people say very racist things.
Here's the long version. I feel like you're completely ignoring the fact that racism exists, and ignoring all of the racist comments made by social-right. It feels disingenuous, but if you honestly don't see the social-right making racist comments, please look into what Republicans in America say. Here's an example: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018...
Of course, that's not representative of all Republicans. For example, read the first and third paragraph of this: https://politi.co/2xDyEqc and you'll see an example of one republican being very racist, and another (DeSantis) denouncing that racism. But here's a list of things DeSantis has also said: https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/eight-times-ron-desantis-...
While you might not consider all of those things racist, I'm sure you can agree that some of them are. You aren't outwardly denying that social-right people say racist things, but you aren't factoring it in either.
> You seemed to take offense ... I think there's a parallel between your response to me and the response many socially-right people have toward systemic racism
I agree tribalism is bad. In hopes of not being tribalistic, I'm providing you with lots of clear explanations and evidence so that we're on the same page. I'll explain my offense again. You said this:
>>> one side thinking (and saying) the others are racists because they don't support various race-targeted policies (or talk about systemic racism all the time)
If you read through my links of racist rhetoric Republicans use, you should be able to see why it's outrageous to say that people of the social-left are mad about social-right not talking about racism all the time. Social-left people are mad about the racist things social-right say.
TL;DR: you are incapable of separating minority views that tend to choose one party from the views of people in the party in general.
>what Republicans in America say. Here's an example: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018....
What a Neo-Nazi running as a Republican says != "what Republicans say". Someone can piss on the subway but that doesn't mean all subway riders piss on the subway nor does it make the description accurate.
Are you comfortable with the everything a few Democratic party members say being associated with the entire party? Cortez claimed that unemployment is low because people are working multiple jobs. Do you think it's now fair to claim that "Democrats have no understanding of economics"?
>I'm providing you with lots of clear explanations and evidence so that we're on the same page.
Once you are convinced of something, it's easy to go through and find anecdotes to support your views like you have. But that doesn't make your broad claim any more true.
>If you read through my links of racist rhetoric Republicans use,
Again, that's not what you provided. You provided links of some Republicans using racist rhetoric. Until you understand that distinction and stop making conclusions based on that confusion, you are part of the problem.
It's unlikely you would be convinced all Democrats are racists if you were provided with anecdotes of Democrats being racist. Why are you so happy to accept that logic for Republicans (other than them being the out-group of course)?
Racism has been talked about for decades, centuries, yet we still haven't realized people are tribal. People are apprehensive against those not in their tribe. If I were in a position to hire someone and I had two equal candidates but one of them was a veteran I am going to hire them because we share a common tribe - we will understand each other better. Does this mean I am against the other person? No it just means I stuck with my tribe, and I won't apologize for that, its animal nature. It could come down to race, where they are from or any number of points that allow me to connect with them on a more personal level.
A large chunk of the racism talks I see come from the west coast (maybe biased as I live on the west coast and I am in tech), but the biggest thing I've seen is the most of them have never actually lived around a majority of black people. Originally, I am from the New Orleans (yes there are race issues there) so being around black people is quite natural. More importantly, I've lived in other countries, traveled through Europe and Asia, and lived/travel through the US. So being around other non-white folks is quite natural. Do I seek people like me to be around, yes. Does that mean they are white? No. Could they all be white? Yes, but that might be due to the demographics of where I am at the time.
Though most importantly, race issues have exploded due to the media, social media and politicians. Talk to REAL people and get to know them (talk to them as an equal) and you will see most people aren't racist, sexist or any other form of ist, we are people trying to make it in this world.
Lastly, I don't believe anyone in America is oppressed due to their race. Socio-economic status is far more oppressive and harder to get out of. For me it was the military along with a good portion of others I served with. One thing the military teaches and shows you is that race is not an indicator of how well you will do, it is your work ethic and commitment. Those who see this do well.
Are those, where the military is not an option, left without options? I couldn't say but its not do to race but their socio-economic status as I said above.
You must have not read enough of the article to see that the Neo-Nazi was polling second (first was the incumbent). Also, I didn't say the party in general was racist. I had a very simple thesis that you were mischaracterizing the social left!
> You provided links of some Republicans using racist rhetoric
See, you do understand my links - those are (some) Republicans using racist rhetoric. But why don't you get my thesis that "it's outrageous to say that people of the social-left are mad about social-right not talking about racism all the time"? It's very simple. The social-right does say racist things (NB: I'm not saying "everyone in the social-right does it") and clearly what social-left is mad about.
Your comment implied the social-left is mad about the social-right not talking about racism all the time, when really, it's because the social right says racist things (again, I never said "every social-right person does this").
> It's unlikely you would be convinced all Democrats are racists
I'd like to point out that I'm not a Democrat, nor am I defending Democrats. I'm pointing out that you're mischaracterizing the social-left big time when you say that what we care about is "everyone must think about racism all the time!" Also, I know tons democrats who make all kinds of racist remarks. I never said (nor do I think) that being a democrat == not being racist.
> What a Neo-Nazi running as a Republican says != "what Republicans say"
He's a Republican. Look up other Republicans and you'll see similar (although not always as inflammatory) racist quotes. I'm not saying "every Republican says racist things".
No it doesn't, but nice way to land into the left stereotype that the poster identified. Both sides can easily believe racism exists but have pretty wide gaps on how it should be addressed.
>if someone could provide me a good, clear argument against a "race-targeted policy" that also accounts for the issues that policy seeks to fix, then I'd happily agree with them (and not think they were racist).
Sure, any policies that give preference to a race that create an "equality of outcome" instead of "equality of opportunity" environment are just trying to offset racism with more racism and are inflaming divides.
Example: Stanford choosing black students over equally (or even more qualified) Asian students due to race-targeted diversity policies. This leads to Asian students doubting the black students are as qualified as them, which leaves a lot of pressure on black students to prove they are there for the right reasons.
Sorry, but that post did completely ignore that racism exists, and it made the social-left out to be people who are mad about others who don't "talk about systemic racism all the time", which is outrageous. If you re-read that comment, you'll see that they did ignore the racism that occurs, and focused on the idea that social-left people are just complaining about stupid things.
> Both sides can easily believe racism exists but have pretty wide gaps on how it should be addressed.
Agreed, and that's not what I was talking about. The comment made social-left people out as caring about stupid details like "YOU MUST TALK ABOUT RACISM FREQUENTLY" instead of caring about things like actual racism
> Stanford choosing black students over equally (or even more qualified) Asian students
I'd like to say that while we disagree about how to "fix racism", this is a perfect point. You aren't picking white people like most people do, you're picking Asian students, who make the highest scores of all demographics.
> leaves a lot of pressure on black students to prove they are there for the right reasons
Talk about hitting the nail on the head! This is a serious problem. I totally agree. We have different ideas of how to solve the problem, but we can both agree that this sucks.
I vividly remember the time I went to In-N-Out with a group, and took a seat at a table after ordering, but the group ended up moving to a different table. I asked the person who wanted to move the group "Why do you want us to sit over there?" She said nothing, but lifted her hand up and pointed a finger, and I looked over and there wasn't anything wrong. But there was a group of black people there. This was a time when racism was clear as day and right in front of me. But hearing many stories of racism from my friends who are black is a different feeling - instead of feeling like there's an isolated incident, I see how common it is, and how easy it is to just not see it. And that's scary. Scarier than the NSA and Facebook, because instead of losing privacy, people are actively harmed and you can easily not even see or hear about it
The poetry is about her being held down by the way she talks. The poetry isn't the thing holding her down.
When you empathize with him and understand that he comes from a different background you can begin to understand why he expresses difficulty in understanding.
I am brown, i never really hear race discussed much in my social circles in a comedic theme, not a racism theme.
There's another data point.
My poiny is that people are diverse, have different perspectives, and having an open mind facilitates dialogue
As a black guy from a military family (though I wasn't in the military myself) my folks for the most part told me they tended to deal with racism quickly and quietly by pulling someone off to the side and either explaining what was wrong to them or fighting them (I have uncles that did one or the other). I think that is kind of how you have to deal with it as well as a lot of other problems in the military because of social pressures towards cohesion. I say this to say that maybe you didn't see it as much when you served because you never did anything to warrant a stern conversation or confrontation yourself and your fellow soldiers or sailors nipped it in the bud before it became a problem within ranks. But that's just my speculating because, again, I've never been in the military, but my uncles, cousins, and great grandfather were and talked about their experiences.
White liberals are racist.
I agree. And it probably explains phenomena like this: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2018/11/30/white-liber...
You may not see it, others may not see it, but that's why people talk about unconscious bias a lot. You're just not attuned to it. The posts in this thread alone should indicate to you that there are common experiences you aren't aware of.
I agree that unconscious bias exists.
I agree that work needs to be done to smooth race relations and unconscious bias.
That said, I think it's worth considering whether constantly talking about race is doing the job of smoothing race relations, or alienating others to the cause.
"Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias)
If you look hard enough for anything, you will find it ... whether it's there or not.
I see a lot of the progressive flag waving in tech as "protesting too much." Here's an almost exclusively white male industry whose main pay check today is mass surveillance and manipulation. It's based in a city with a cost of living so high that only six-figure professionals can afford to live there in anything more than a bunk bed. Helps to cover it with a lot of faux-progressive window dressing.
I grew up in the Midwest and lived in the South for a while. I know people from many different regions and walks of life. The most ardent, ideological, committed racists I've ever encountered are all in tech. Tech circles are the only place I've had multiple people try to evangelize me with what amounts to neo-Nazi ideology. Even putting those extreme cases aside I don't really see tech as very progressive. It's certainly not progressive in deed, and that's what matters.
This is such a weird time politically. Politics is increasingly bullshit and the more irrelevant it becomes the more emotional and combative people become about it.
Are you sure that's accurate? It's well known that tech circles have a left-leaning social ideology, particularly in the bay area.
Hell a lot of it incubated right here on HN before the de-facto policy became to flag/shadowban that stuff. Go back to HN circa 2010-2011 and the site's full of it. I'm pretty convinced that if the admins hadn't banned that stuff HN would be a highbrow 4chan /pol by now, since everyone else would have bailed when it got increasingly hard-core.
I've encountered casual racist attitudes elsewhere, but tech circles are the only places I've found significant numbers of true believers in the Bell Curve and people who think a single number (IQ) quantifies the worth of a human being. It's also, like I said, the only place I've had people try to evangelize me to hard-core fascist ideology.
There's a world of difference between having casual negative attitudes toward other races because your family held them when you grew up and having an explicit ideological belief system that advocates racism, totalitarianism, and hyper-elitism. It's the difference between an un-examined bias and an examined, affirmed bias. I've found the former in places like Ohio and North Carolina. I've found the latter primarily in tech.
It does surprise me to find these views in tech. It surprises me because tech is all about changing the way things are, so I wouldn't expect to find total commitment and capitulation to the naturalistic fallacy. But here it is.
What qualifies these groups as tech circles? Sure 4chan is a website, but there's nothing that seems to indicate that it's primarily populates by tech workers. It seems just as [un]justifiable to point at Tumblr, Jezebel, etc. and claim that far left progressives "came out of tech circles".
Activists target an organization for not having a proportional representation of Group X, and claim this must be solely due to racism, misogyny, white supremacy, and so on. The most effective argument against this claim is that the skill distribution of Group X is different. Activists claim this argument is itself racist or white supremacist, so the only people making it publicly are fringe racists.
There is plenty of peer-reviewed research suggesting IQ differences between racial or ethnic groups. Cultures are different too. Groups of people differ, on average, in every other aspect, why would intelligence be any different?
Does this mean we should deport all immigrants, refuse to interview certain races, judge people collectively rather than as individuals, speak hatefully about them, or bar them from our neighborhoods? Of course not.
Does this mean only high IQ people are valuable and deserving of respect? No way. Every human deserves dignity and equal treatment.
Does this mean I'm a white supremacist or misogynist? I'm a woman from a WASP family. I used to work as a quant, a perfectly meritocratic job: Either your ideas made money or they didn't. The market doesn't know or care what color your skin is, which gender you prefer dating, or what's between your legs.
My best colleagues weren't the country club elite. They were disproportionately Eastern European Jewish, Chinese, and Indian immigrants. And when you look at the data, those are the groups that perform best on standardized tests, on average. People from my background are pretty average in that regard, nothing to get supremacist about.
I do have some issues with what you wrote.
My first problem is with IQ tests in general. Psychology is a soft science. It's recently been revealed to be even softer than we thought. The replication crisis in psychology and other soft sciences has made me very skeptical of science that's not hard enough to be tied immediately down to physics, math, and logic. In softer sciences the beliefs of the researchers seem to have a disturbing amount of effect on the outcome.
My second and larger problem is that racism and sexism are extremely common. Years ago I would not have said that, but the recent outpouring of overt hard-core racism and misogyny has convinced me that the activists were right. Either a huge number of formerly not-racist and not-misogynist people suddenly underwent a mass conversion, or the taboo on openly discussing these topics was broken on social media and people suddenly started saying what they really thought. I lean toward the latter, since the explosion of this stuff was just so fast and so extreme.
Given that huge numbers of people are racist and sexist, it's extremely hard to untangle any biological a priori differences from outcomes owing to prejudice.
Personally I think both you and the activists are right in that both causes are in play, but the only way to find out what percentage is due to what is probably to attack prejudice as a potential cause and then see what residual remains. Prejudice is easier to address than genetic differences since ideas are not encoded in DNA and we don't really have the technology (yet?) to boost intelligence physically either through genetic engineering or augmentation.
I do not personally support heavy-handed imposition of quotas as advocated by some activists, but I do think something ought to be done. Again I wouldn't have said that years ago, but the explosion of racism and misogyny on social media changed my mind significantly on this issue. I've been driven a lot further to the left on numerous issues in recent years from being just so shocked and appalled at ideas that are apparently much more common out there than I would have thought. I thought that stuff was dead.
But I've been in tech all my life and I haven't experienced any neo-nazi ideology within it. Neither have any of my friends. Sure you're not exaggerating?
I do have to add though that all human experiences suffer from the curse of small sample size. I guess a more rational takeaway from my comments would be that the liberal bias in tech is not as universal as some people would think, and that the extreme hard right does have a presence in tech.
And while mysogyny, sexism, racism, and even hardcore violence "exists" in tech, it is FAR more prevalent in hip hop circles ( http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/ ).
So you're going to be just as hard about this with rappers, right?
As for rappers-- you're right, but rap doesn't have a progressive public image at least insofar as womens' issues are concerned. As far as I can remember the rap scene has always been criticized as full of misogyny.
I think the recent rise in online fascism and racism is because activists force normal people to deny the reality they see and live every day. Otherwise they're shouted down as racist, white supremacist, misogynist, have their jobs threatened by online mobs, and so on. Like Captain Picard defiantly insisting there are four lights, they seek places where they can speak their truth.
When everyone who speaks against blank slateism, cultural relativism, and white privilege gets shouted down, these places only exist underground, in unmoderated spaces. They're quite seductive and even reasonable at first: Men and women are a little different; Unlimited unskilled immigration can hurt a country; Cultures that engage in female genital mutilation are bad; Nuclear families produce better outcomes for children; Being overweight is unhealthy and unattractive; It's not a problem if Google has a lot of Asian men working there.
"Wow, I've finally found a place where people aren't lying to my face all day" they think. But since they're unmoderated, things quickly take a more sinister turn: [Race or religion] is responsible for all our problems; Gays are degenerate; All women are whores; Build the wall; Naziism gives your life meaning; Violence is the answer.
I think if we let up a bit on the over-moderation, online mobbing, calling people racists thing, most sane people would never seek those spaces to begin with.
FWIW, I've really enjoyed discussing this with you. Most people who disagree with me are very aggressive and resort to insult rather than an honest two-way conversation. The thing you said about eliminating prejudice is especially important. Even though I believe people in America enjoy some of the least biased treatment in all of human history, there are still problems like corporations shielding executives from serious sexual harassment claims and police brutality against unarmed minorities. We can, and should, do better.
Anyway I still have a hard time buying that tech is a prejudiced place run by privileged, straight, white, Christian men: Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella are Indian, with tan skin and a totally foreign culture to most Americans, yet they run Google and Microsoft. Larry and Sergey are descendants of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. Sandberg is a Jewish woman in a high-level, power position at Facebook. Tim Cook is openly gay. These people are in the highest level positions running some of the most valuable companies in the entire world.
1) IQ is a good measure of aptitude
2) White people have higher IQs
Congratulations you are a white supremacist.
Certain groups of black men are taller and stronger, on average, than any other sub-population of humans. When I watch the NBA, which selects for the far-far-right tail of the distribution in height and strength, it's not surprising that an astonishingly large majority of players are drawn from those groups. I'm not surprised to see zero women. I'm not surprised to see very few white men, and even fewer Asian men able to compete at that level.
Does that make me a black supremacist or something?
OTOH, I have been with a couple companies and seen racism and sexism in the form of jokes and comments that were done in poor taste, but it was just a group of white/asian progressive males so no harm? Again, all anecdotal. I'm sure other people have had complete opposite experiences, and thats to be expected. Racism is not always about hate or politics, it can show its self through ignorance and unfamiliarity.
I've been a lurker for almost the entirety of HN. I created an account just to post this because I believe politics, especially political stereotyping has no business on HN. I would hate to see this forum burned out like Reddit.
Someone has lied to you about the differences between liberals and conservatives. A non-negligible portion of the left think more discrimination is the answer to discrimination.
No community is THIS defensive about something that's a non-issue.
Yes, surely protesting their innocence is strong evidence that they are, in fact, guilty as charged. /s
It's not like, once in every blue moon, someone says 'tech has a race problem'- people say things like that all the time. So, even if it was a non-issue, the fact lots of people are saying it's an issue makes it an issue for people in tech, for obvious reasons (nobody likes being called evil.)
Maybe people are defensive because they do see racism and ignore it- but maybe people are defensive because lots of people say there's racism they're ignoring, and what those people say can affect their jobs. Whether there's a race problem or not, there's a race problem.
When did you stop beating your wife?
This is the 'happy path' to ideological totalitarianism, and it's a scary statement.
In the UC system, it is now considered a 'micro aggression' to make the statement 'America is a Meritocracy'. Why? Because it doesn't necessarily reflect the fact that for some people it's harder than others. Surely - there's a lot to be debated about the statement. But that it cannot be said, or is even considered problematic is utterly Orwellian.
The author makes the case of 'undue or overly harsh' criticism of Black employees? Unfortunately, this is a difficult thing to measure, and if FB turns into a 'government office' - it simply won't be possible to give even a fair assessment without the fear or being labelled a racist.
I'm actually quite sensitive to aphxtron's comment above about the insecurities of being black in tech, and there is work to do ... but I think the intersectional / authoritarian approach, especially those whereby we 'assume racism' is wrong.
I don't think the Colin Kaepernick approach is going to work on this, I think it's just going to take a while.
A recent comment by the author, Michael Dunlop Young:
"It is good sense to appoint individual people to jobs on their merit. It is the opposite when those who are judged to have merit of a particular kind harden into a new social class without room in it for others."
Trying to ban the word meritocracy like they did at GitHub is just the result of certain sorts of people (who loudly claim to be totally not racist or sexist at all) secretly believing that formalised hiring and promotion processes, which is what they usually mean by the word meritocracy, will exclude their chosen favourite minorities.
'Meritocracy' possibly creates another class based system, just defined in the terms of whoever is responsible for defining what 'merit' is.
I believe that in general 'meritocracy' is a good thing, I don't think we should be fundamentally cynical about it ... but the OP's comment is definitely relevant.
I particularly appreciate last quote it's utterly relevant in the Valley.
However, I do welcome the type of meritocracy where people like Aneurin Bevan can go on to influence our lives in such a positive way:
[He started work down a mine at 13 and went on to found the NHS].
Also, on the military side it used to be possible for someone to rise from private soldier to Chief of the Imperial General Staff - something, even with a far smaller military, would be impossible today - a point made by the military historian Richard Holmes.
The military is a completely alternative universe, and by the way many commissioned soldiers do make the jump to the officer class.
Alternate character interpretation: the phrase "meritocracy" has turned into a dogwhistle for white supremacists and as such its use effectively reifies a white-supremacist position whether you mean to do so or not. As another example: I do not think that the overwheming majority of folks who use the term "gypped" have a problem with Romani, nut there is history and context to that too and you can't ignore it. Or, if you'd like a more amplified example, consider what the phrase "blood and soil" actually refers to.
It's not "Orwellian" to say "hey, that shit hurts people, be conscious of how your actions affect other people." It's polite.
But pragmatically, it is Orwellian to suggest the phrase 'America is a Meritocracy' is tantamount to 'White Supremacism' or even that it is remotely an 'impolite' term.
", be conscious of how your actions affect other people."
No, it's not our job to not ever say anything that might possibly offend someone somewhere, because someone will always be offended.
This is not about 'being polite'.
It is 'polite' to not use foul language, to make assumptions about people, or to not say things that would offend most people, or are definitely going to offend a small groups.
It is not reasonable to control language to a point wherein speech is restricted because of the mere possibility that someone, somewhere, might be mildly offended.
I think you've made my case for me, because if it is 'not polite' to say 'America is a meritocracy' - then most speech is literally not polite and subject to the arbitrary whims of authoritarian overlords.
Just yesterday the CBC, Rogers and Bell (Canadian Gov. Broadcaster and equivalent of AT&T and Verizon) just banned the #1 most popular Christmas song 'Baby it's cold outside' - because of the innuendo about a man pressing a woman to stay with him. Contrast that with the fact that there are zillions of songs with overt, vicious, bigoted, violent and sexist terminology played all day long and you can see immediately the arbitrary and ideological nature to which these things apply.
A small, totalitarian group of 'thought nannies' decided that a very popular, and frankly innocuous song, might possibly suggest or offend someone, somewhere - and so it was banned.
Yes - let's be polite ... but utterly arbitrary and normative speech that might be contentious in intellectual circles ... does not constitute racism, insensitivity, or 'impolite' speech.
I think it is Orwellian to declare certain words or phrases "dog whistles" and suppress their usage based on that.
If you don't want to be thought of as a white supremacist, it's remarkably easy not to parrot their phrases. And nobody's even saying you can't do it if you want to die on that hill. But actions have consequences, don't they?
/pol/ in particular gets a lot of fun from getting progressives to jump at shadows ("It's ok to be white", and that unsuccessful campaign to turn a lone black dot into a symbol of white supremacy). The "O.K. symbol as white supremacist" also came from them I think, and the intent was to get progressives to seem crazy for flipping out at something so innocuous.
And maybe because when people use a word we don't automatically assume the worst intent unless there is evidence to support it?
That's really easy.
The statement 'America is a meritocracy' is not remotely a phrase or statement supporting White Supremacy.
The fact any reasonable person would try to put such an innocuous statement in the camp of 'White Supremacy' makes me afraid.
It could be if you insist that it's a meritocracy in the face of all the evidence that it is overwhelmingly biased towards white people.
(It could equally just be an ignorant statement from a blistering ignorant fool who hasn't done any thinking, mind.)
Last time I checked, Asian Americans were the wealthiest racial demographic in the US. Does it follow that meritocracy is even more biased towards Asians than it is towards Whites? Or, perhaps there's more to it than blanket claims that, "it is overwhelmingly biased towards white people."?
This is what is so insidious about accusations of dog-whistling. It's a cheap and effective way of simplifying reality and portraying the target as a straw man.
I wonder if the right will adopt this tactic and start calling things like "diversity initiatives" as a dog-whistling for the exclusion of conservatives.
There has never been a successful human rights movement that was polite and didn't offend.
The truth can be very painful to accept, which is why we often subconsciously avoid it and shun such discussions
Did you mean "do" rather than "don't"? If not, I'm not sure how to interpret that statement.
That pretty much sums up the state of the dialog in the industry and it's pretty sad that you can't even find thoughtful comments on Hacker News. Regardless of your politics, everyone deserves a fair shake. I'm a black engineer and manager with experience at several tech companies, including Facebook. At every company I've worked for I've heard jokes about African-Americans (overheard, to my face, from managers and ICs alike) and dealt with people assuming I'm a junior engineer at the beginning of every encounter despite the gray hairs lining my chin. At the conclusion of my tech talks and even technical interviews people routinely ask me if I have an engineering background! These things may seem insignificant ("they're just jokes") but we're social creatures want to feel recognized and accepted. That hasn't stopped me from building a career I'm proud of and I don't lose sleep at night. But I'm an outlier in that regard.
The larger subtext of the entire diversity conversation is learning to coexist. It's not about black people, women, the LGBTQ community, or any other single group. It's about a better working environment for everyone indefinitely. Being against that is literally pathological.
Based on the quality of discourse on this site lately, I'm sure many of you will take my words out of context and make broad assumptions about my beliefs. For the sane ones, please reflect on the words I actually wrote.
My younger brother is going into the tech industry but has a much darker complexion than me. I'm not sure what to tell him to be honest.
My older brother is an engineer. He is by all appearances black. His approach was similar to mine but to a greater extreme, he disassociated himself from anything resembling black stereotypes in America down to the very music he listens to, the way he dresses, everything. Unfortunately he takes it a step too far and is quite often jokingly(or not, I can't tell) racist himself. He's finding success in his career but I don't know how much of that is due to the way he presents himself or due to his merit.
I have friends that do the same thing, they have a work face and a home face. I try not to think about it. It's very distracting.
To the extent possible, I've always tried to shape my identity based on what feels right for me instead of what's expected of me, even from my own race. With practice, divorcing yourself from other peoples' opinions of you becomes second nature. When you don't adopt that mindset you're allowing other people to write your story, which some people are fine with but I personally find that intolerable. I can definitely relate to feeling like you have to disown part of your identity but I just can't accept that. It happens in many subtle ways we don't think about. For example, when we sense someone else's self doubt if evokes feeling of self doubt, anger, or sadness in ourselves. In reality, other peoples' flawed opinions don't pay my rent so I try to live in reality and disregard ignorance unless it affects the outcomes I care about.
I chose tech (over politics!) because it seemed like more of a meritocracy and, although I've dealt with some race-related challenges, focusing on doing my best work, creating value, and writing my own story has led to pretty good results.
I do still get distracted wondering whether my story would be different if I weren't black - it's tough.
How did I make this discovery?
At a funeral, meeting some of my dad's friends. One couple said 'you must know Marcus' and then proceeded to describe him by colour. That didn't help. But when they said that he did the posters for the school debating society I remembered who this Marcus character was, and quite clearly. It was his eloquence in the aforementioned debating society that I did remember, not his black skin.
There were other parents-of-contemporaries there who had kids that could not have been white. So I then clocked details I did remember - Asian style eyelids without the crease, darker skin tone etc. Seems as if there was more diversity at the school I went to than I can remember. I had assumed everyone was white, but this was definitely not the case.
We did actually have kids being teased for having ginger hair, I can't remember being the one using the shameful gingerist words but I must have been chuckling away though.
I can remember racist words and how there was no association between the words and the persons who were supposed to be derided by such words. I distinctly remember using a derogatory term for people from the Indian sub-continent and my parents correcting me about that. Beatings were allowed in the 1980's... The context of that was a retail establishment where us kids had a name for it that turned out to be quite racist. We didn't know that, we just thought it was the name of the place. The more backward folks in the older generation had 'taught' us this particular word, we didn't know the connotations.
So, think again, are you sure you didn't go to school with any black kids? You could have been genuinely oblivious.
I also wonder why I was so deluded and what the balance has to be between different shades of skin colour for 'them and us' racism to happen. Had our school been 50% black I am sure I would not have had my naive 'everyone was white' memories, but a small percentage of black folks in a white school would have been memorable too.
Haha, not only I didn't go to school with black kids, but I hadn't seen a single black person on a street until early 2000s in my post-soviet country.
Given how even recent white European immigrants to the UK are treated by the general population (see: Brexit), I would expect afro-Caribbean individuals to not be treated much better, and have, anecdotally, heard as much.
I don't think it makes much sense to categorise people by skin colour. An Afro-Caribbean doesn't in general have more in common with an immigrant from Africa than with an immigrant from Syria or Hong Kong.
People with a different skin colour certainly do get discriminated against. However, if you really want to get discriminated against, try dressing in the wrong way and speaking a foreign language or with a foreign accent. In general, people get judged by their clothing and the way they speak far more than by any physical feature.
Perhaps it doesn't make sense to generalise across the UK, either. Afro-Caribbeans are much more common in the London area than elsewhere. Only in Bradford has someone made me feel like a foreigner by speaking to me slowly in Hindi/Urdu and rolling their eyes when I fail to understand. (Quite cool, I thought: I approve.)
The American condition doesnt have a way to relate to that
As far as the dialog, it is known that Facebook pays PR firms to improve their image by spreading misleading stories (see Definers Public Affairs), so I think there is reason to believe that some comments here may be disingenuous.
There is a need for diversity training but the way I’ve seen it done is off putting to the people who need it most. All it ends up being is a virtue signaling fest for so called allies of minority groups and the real harm persists - people making false, often times demeaning, assumptions about others that adversely affect them.
I work in academia and have never been outside of academia. My belief about diversity training comes solely from my experiences within academia. Do companies spend time on diversity training? Is it a yearly training like it is in parts of academia? Do you find the way it is done off putting? Helpful?
- From a black male entering the tech industry
You claim the site doesn't have thoughtful comments and then you build up a strawman of diversity efforts and then claim being against it is 'literally pathological'. This is the problem.
People with grievances about how diversity programs are ineffective or are causing harm are labeled as 'pathological', etc by people on the left because they think the criticisms are against diversity in the first place. You are making enemies out of people who believe in equal opportunity because they point out flaws and injustices in diversity programs.
I recommend that you reflect on your positions if you want to build bridges. Assuming that everyone who points out flaws in an approach are against the much larger goal is a good way to needlessly divide everyone.
I think an even more subtle problem is people who attack ineffective policies as opposed to focusing on the primary objective, which is coexistence. In other words, people focus on attacking solutions as opposed to helping create better ones. That behavior is pervasive, insidious, counterproductive, and seems to be picking up steam.
Please, reflect on your position for a moment there. You're saying that anyone who is happy with their workplace and thinks things are OK is engaged in "literally pathological anti-social behaviour". That's the kind of overblown, extremist rhetoric that makes diversity initiatives a toxic topic in the modern workplace - it's a demonisation of anyone who thinks that maybe their firm has bigger things to worry about than a never-ending, apparently unsatisfiable quest for "equity".
In other words, people focus on attacking solutions as opposed to helping create better ones. That behavior is pervasive, insidious, counterproductive, and seems to be picking up steam.
It's actually your behaviour that's counterproductive here. There is never any obligation to propose something better when criticising a proposal.
It might be helpful to the proposer, and if someone can think of a better approach then you'd hope they would propose it. But if something is a bad idea, or represents a bad tradeoff (there are no solutions in life, only tradeoffs), then it's a bad idea and shouldn't happen. This is independent of anything else. Indeed, making the status quo worse is absolutely possible with any change, and something people are right to point out if a proposal might lead to it.
That doesn't make them insidious, or counterproductive.
You make some valid points about what constitutes active/passive resistance and your comment made me think. I don't think everyone is obligated to come up with better solutions but I do think if you're going to participate in the dialog, focusing solely on attacking existing solutions is counterproductive and makes me question your motives.
If all of the proposed solutions are garbage and it's a complex problem, rational people will only be attacking them.
Consider when papers are submitted for peer review. The outcome is either paper is acceptable, or you get a bunch of negative feedback. That doesn't mean the reviewers don't want the problem solved, it just means that you're solution is flawed. People who want to solve problems seek peer reviews because they want to find flaws in their logic, data, or methodology.
Critical feedback is absolutely necessary for any solution to a real problem. Calling it counterproductive is misguided at best.
Because many of those policies are actively harmful and are worse than the status quo. You don't need to have a better solution to point out that implementing quotas results in more racism than having no quotas at all.
When it comes to approaches to diversity, many are significantly worse than nothing at all because they embolden divides by highlighting that fact that some people are different and are incapable without special provisions.
>That behavior is pervasive, insidious, counterproductive, and seems to be picking up steam.
They are only counterproductive if you are already convinced reverse discrimination is the answer to discrimination.
The U.S. implemented quotas/affirmative action in the 1960s. Are you suggesting that this caused an increase in racism? Do you think the U.S. would be better off now if it had not implemented those policies? I think you'll have a very hard time adequately supporting the position I quoted above.
I think that's something everybody can agree with. However, I sometimes think that HR, Code of Conduct policies, etc do more harm than good in ensuring that happens.
In the ideal world, we all work together to find something that works. In reality, we're prone to change resistance so when we disagree with a new policy (regardless of whether it really has implications for our own lives) we tend to reject the policy, the premise, the authorities, and any groups that support said policy. There's lots of evidence that suggests that's an inherent dynamic of social systems. When policies have implications for social groups things turn explosive quickly, but beyond that I think the reaction we see to diversity conversations is just run of the mill change resistance. I often find it helpful to highlight the inarguable, universal truths in those situations as a starting point for finding a better way forward but...it's never easy.
Why do you think that?
About this.... There's something I've noticed is that when one group has rights by default, and another doesnt, fighting for equality or equity feels like to the innate group that rights are taken away.
Its the perception of zero-sum game versus a positive-sum game. For the in-group, having others brought up to your status feels like its reducing yours... But it doesn't.
Whereas rights can be assessed for everyone. The more rights we all have is a positive sum. A rising tide raises all boats.
Some groups are making hard stands for calling for equity, and others are calling for equality. I'm refraining on making a judgement call on which one is better, given I'm a tall white male. And the groups demanding this are African Americans who have been wronged by various state policies. I'll refrain from interpreting their meaning, and repeat verbatim.
I also think it's disingenuous to claim what "equity" is. This is a common tactic to define a word, and then destroy the stated definition, thus demeaning the original word. And bringing Marxism is guaranteed for a shitstorm..
The definition I gave is the one widely used in academic disciplines such as "black studies", "gender studies", "women studies" and "whiteness studies". I did not invent it. E.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employment_equity_(Canada)
> Some groups are making hard stands for calling for equity
I'm not sure which groups are calling for what, but the 20th century experience is clear: Marxism doesn't work. So identity politics should be resisted as much as possible, irrespective of who's calling for it.
> And bringing Marxism is guaranteed for a shitstorm..
If I didn't do a very good job of arguing why I consider it Marxism, perhaps Jordan Peterson explains it better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqcRVmOpIbY
As to causing a shitstorm - I believe that's inevitable when you have an honest discussion on such an important and divisive topic. That doesn't mean such a discussion should be avoided, on the contrary - the more difficult and divisive the topic is, the more important it is to discuss it openly, so that each side may argue their positions as best as they can and hopefully advance towards solution that works for everyone involved.
This is so ill-defined as to be useless. If by Marxist we are speaking of what mark (and Engels) wrote, then it must be pointed out Marx was against equality as a metric or measure. And that, contrary to popular belief, he did not originate collectivism and egalitarianism, but heavily critiqued the proponents and thinkers of such that existed in his time.
> equality of opportunity
Interestingly enough, this is another way of saying no equality at all. That is, the outcome of the competition is, by and large, predetermined. Children born into affluent homes will be sent to better schools, have better tutors, have parents who understand such social systems, and even posses such (seemingly minor, unless we of course want to talk about brain development) advantages as being fed enough nutritious food as to not be hungry. The athlete with access to experts and money and training (and time to spend otherwise not having to earn a living while they train) will outperform the runner who gets in a couple miles after work. (This, of course, extends to everything aspect of business and life. I'm sure there are many people who, if they're parents had had a few extra hundred thousand or million dollars to invest in their child't first few failed businesses, there are a lot of people who could be "successful".) So if we want "equality of opportunity" the first thing we have to do is divorce parents and children in something like Plato's creche. Otherwise we must admit that the system is built not on allowing the meritorious to rise (with whatever definition of meritorious we employ) but instituted by a power class to maintain that same power class.
> plays the game
When survival is on the line, how is it rational to 'play by the rules'. If someone existed in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, would it be rational to to hand over their family's stock of food on the outcome of a chess game?
If this were true, class mobility between generations wouldn't be so frequent like it is in the US. https://www.fa-mag.com/news/most-millionaires-self-made--stu...
Why does the poverty level continue to rise?
Yet, there are more millionaires, this is a fact.
Does it have to be one or the other?
Is there an answer that satisfies both sets of facts?
We live in an age of numbers. My own state managed to drastically reduce unemployment. They did it by limiting unemployment benefits to six months. And only those who get unemployment are counted as unemployed. And I know a lot those people who are no longer unemployed. Some of them have already died, some from medical reasons compounded by lack of insurance, others suicide, overdoses, etc. Some of them are working on it. Couples work each two jobs, struggle to payback loans, to pay for the car they need to get to work, always seemingly one payment away from disaster. Children go home from school on the weekend and won't eat anything until they come back to school on Monday and get a free breakfast that there is talk of being cut. Certain of them are dying, not for any technological or medical reason, but because they have no insurance and can't pay any other way and couldn't take off from work even if they did, and it's not that they want to die, it's just that that is the only option on the table. Those with their homes lost, those living in motels. Those who make too much to qualify for food stamps, and those who make too little to qualify for insurance assistance.
This is not some abstraction. I can touch it. I can point: over there is an old couple who don't have enough money to heat their house through the winter, over there is a guy who needs a tooth pulled, but he can't afford it.
Perhaps we've made an error in calculation. Yes, we have stuff. Even the homeless have cellphones now. And yet the society we inhabit, that which was ostensibly supposedly had been constructed to buffer us from the brutal savagery of nature, now mirrors that savagery, so many always one step, one mistake away from maiming and/or death. Yet, yes, many do live in many ways better than kings of yore. But a phone doesn't cure cancer or an abscess or kidney stones or dull pain. But we have stuff. And we wouldn't trade it for anything, not to have medical care, not to feel less lonely, nothing. In one sense, however, at least the jungle, the real jungle, was honest about itself, it would eventually chew you up and compost you. And what use is it to live like a king without the power of one? A kind of Schrodinger's paradox: to live as a king and as a peasant, one in the same, at the same time. A postmodern version of the Prince and Pauper, perhaps?
But, then again, maybe I am crazy, maybe I can't trust my own mind, maybe all of these things I've been seeing around me for a long time aren't real. I don't know anymore. I'm not sure it matters.
I think the world has two futures. In the first, the world simply becomes Dubai. I think that's already happening. Compare what is said there to here. Are the justifications really that different? In the second (the utopia one?), there's a swath of people, how many I can't say, maybe a few hundred thousand, maybe a million, maybe even a billion, it's just a number (to quote Stalin: "Quantity has a quality all its own."), but it is this number of people, this swath of the human population that needs to die so that the remainder can live as millionaires.
The article you linked provides some quotes from Marx and Engels which argue that full equality along all dimensions can never be achieved. But this didn't stop all the implementations of Marxism in real life to still push the equity thing hard. So your argument is actually immaterial.
> That is, the outcome of the competition is, by and large, predetermined.
I disagree. The Western states have social lifts that are designed to allow people from low-income families to still be able to achieve high positions in society, given talent and hard work. Public schools, state-sponsored higher education, public health care, children services are examples of such lifts. If these systems do not work very well, then we should improve them as opposed to favoring a Black kid at the entry exam of university at the expense of an Asian kid who is just as smart. Because once we start discriminating and making preferences, it's very hard to stop.
Especially when the problem we're trying to solve by throwing resources at is not the real problem. E.g. some Black communities have a very particular set of problems absent in other communities, for example MUCH higher rate of single-parenthood than in any other community with similar income in the USA. 73% children in Black families are born out of marriage. Clearly, it's a cultural thing. You can't solve these problems by throwing money at them, money actually can make it worse. So we need to have an honest conversation about the real problems our communities are facing instead of following a blanket "all the people are exactly equal, so every group at the bottom of the hierarchy must be discriminated against" approach.
Saying Marxism is like saying Christian or intellectual property: they're only ever mashed together to profit someone. It's all one convenient blob, until it isn't.
> to still be able to achieve high positions in society, given talent and hard work.
This reminds me of the time Pat Robertson told a mother her child died because she hadn't prayed hard enough. It's a fundamentally tautological position.
What is interesting to me is that before reading this part I assumed you are a man even though there was no hint before this line that you are. How many people thought kwamenum86 is a man from start of his writing?