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BlackGirlsCode Raises $21,000 To Fund Summer Of Code Program (techli.com)
101 points by MRonney 1603 days ago | hide | past | web | 161 comments | favorite



I realize that the realities of the limited resources available for charities and non-profits is what leads to the ethnic and gender based targeting, but this just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Is it a good cause? Yes. Teaching any disadvantaged group a useful skill is a great thing, but solving a problem of exclusion with further exclusion is, in principal, bad.

I grew up in a poor, mostly black, rural county in Virginia. The opportunities for learning to code were zero. There was no computer science class, while students attending public schools in the DC suburbs of northern Virginia got to have programming classes starting in middle school.

People WANTED to learn to code, but they couldn't. These were poor people, of all colors and genders.

Will this make Women's Studies graduates and professors happy? Yes. Will it make African-American Studies graduates and professors happy? Probably.

I could point out the bullshit in this idea in so many ways, but I'll stick with just one:

Among black americans, which group has a lower graduation rate? Males or females? Which group is more likely to be unemployed, males or females? Which group is more likely to be incarcerated? The list goes on.

I know it's not cool to help boys/males these days, but all the statistics point to a dramatic problem with young men of all races today. It's too bad that there isn't a powerful special interest group backed up by a bunch of humanities professors looking out for the impoverished non-black non-females of America.

Charities should be based on need and helping the greater good, not on playing favorites.


Yeah, you know what else sucks - there is funding for support groups of cancer survivors. What a pile of crap that they don't fund me to go in and learn about surviving cancer. I think cancer sucks too, and its just so unfair that they are exclusionary because of some silly thing like "had cancer". What makes them special? I mean shit, I grew up in a household where my grandma DIED of cancer. I don't deserve support and sympathy just because I didn't have it? What a pile of crap. I know its uncool to have never had cancer these days, but lets just be honest: it would be much more useful to the world to give everyone a "cancer sucks" dollar than to provide some people with enough dollars to specialize on one part of the problem. Then we could all be equal and awesome. I understand, that cancer survivors feel alone and lost to the world, but is the right way to fight that really by putting them in a group of other "people who understand"? This favoritism is bullshit.

(For those who don't get sarcasm, or if I somehow stumbled on a high poe factor, the preceding rant was sarcasm)


Excellent analogy. Medical care (i.e. money spent) is given out to people who need it. The more you need it, the more you should get it.

Conversely, you don't give a cancer sufferer the same amount of money as you gave someone without cancer. Which is what people often suggest when projects want to help disadvantaged groups ("We shouldn't get BlackGirlsCode any more money than we give to WhiteGuysCode, otherwise it's RACIST!")


If some black girls want to code, what possible reason do you have to object? Let them. Leave them alone, if you aren't supportive. That's all you need to do.

The group isn't preventing white people from coding. If you want white people to code, you can make your own group. And it will fly really well anywhere in the South and many places in the West and you won't have to say anything about how it's only for white people, there are a hundred ways that can be signaled.

Again, if you want to help boys specifically - I actually think that's an important target for 'affirmative action' because boys are falling so far behind in academic achievement. Do it. Good for you.

And good for the people trying to help black girls


So if I started a charity called WhiteMenCode, do you think that it would be fair to all of the other races and genders? Would it be fair that one segment of the impoverished get special treatment? Surely it would be better to organise something like PoorPeopleCode, since that is the segment of society which, in fact, needs help - poor people. Who gives a crap about race or gender? It's bigger than that.


Plenty of people give a crap about race and gender. In a way that works against black women.

I got into programming because my dad did it, not because of some rational calculus of my abilities and society's needs. Role models are like that.

At least until the point black women are vastly overrepresented in positions of power in the tech industry, I don't see anything wrong with a black woman programmer acting as a role model for young black women.

If you would also like to set up PoorPeopleCode, nobody is stopping you.


"Surely it would be better to organise something like PoorPeopleCode, since that is the segment of society which, in fact, needs help - poor people."

Women code less than men of the same socioeconomic background. Not everything is about money. Plenty of these girls would make decent livings for themselves in other fields, but thanks to this program, some will find that programming is their true calling. That is a worthwhile effort.


Well...

Not really.

To be COMPLETELY fair, we would need to concede that in this particular demographic...

That is... poor, black children...

NO ONE has a real opportunity to code, male or female. So I think a PoorPeopleCode would have made more sense here.

Having mentioned that, I believe firmly in the principle of people being able to contribute charitably to whatever cause they please. It's just that, quite naturally, there will develop in any culture... well ... let's call them 'preferences'. In India, the government just started an investigation of private schools which forced Dalits to wear different uniforms, stand in the back of classrooms etc. In Indonesia... it's not good to be a Chinese Christian. And... in the US ... I'm not letting anyone in on any secrets when I tell you that you don't want to be a black boy in our school system for instance.

These 'preferences' usually manifest themselves in charitable giving and... VOILA. This doesn't make the charity 'bad', just puts it in line with most of the other charitable giving in the US. Not so much 'bad', as just... 'unexceptional'.

Sorry to be so longwinded. Was just trying to be fair to both sides.


In the current situation white men don't need any help with this, they already dominate the scene. Not that I really mind, I am a white man.

But you could easily implement this plan and be lauded just by naming it something other than WhiteMenCode.

If this were a government welfare program it would be important not to be partial but this is self-help.

I think it would be very laudable to go to very white parts of Appalachia and found HillbilliesCode or whatever you wanted to name it.


> Who gives a crap about race or gender?

Bigots, for one. And beyond that, we all harbor subconscious biases that collectively act to disadvantage certain populations of people.

> Surely it would be better to organise something like PoorPeopleCode

Oh SURELY it would be BETTER. Are you actually physically sitting in a belfry made of ivory right now? Maybe that would be better, if someone had the resources and know-how to make it happen.

But back here in banal reality, how about a black woman starts BlackGirlsCode, and a Latin@ person starts LatinKidsCode, and so on, with each of them using their particular strengths and personal networks, each biting off and fixing a tiny little portion of admittedly larger problems?


So if I started a charity called WhiteMenCode, do you think that it would be fair to all of the other races and genders?

No, of course that's not fair. White men need very little help coding and getting involved in tech. However people who do need it, should get it.


'So if I started a charity called WhiteMenCode, do you think that it would be fair to all of the other races and genders?'

Do white guys need more help in America? Statistically, white men have a higher chance at being well... anything. Actor. Model. CEOs. Executives. Managers. Interracial marriages. Politicians. Lack of racial profiling. White men getting worked up about this is like rich people getting worked up about poor people getting welfare.


Do white guys need more help in America?

Some do, yes. Depending on whether your concern is for actual living, breathing individuals, or for statistics and metadata about some collective.

Sure, it's easy to talk about how white men have "privilege" and are "over-represented" in some group, etc., etc., ad infinitum. But somewhere, out there, is a poor white male kid, growing up in some impoverished neighborhood, whose family can't afford a computer, who attends a slummy school with no computer education, and who would absolutely benefit from a "White Boys Code" initiative. And to that individual, all the statistics about white male privilege and over-representation mean bugger-all.

Note: none of this means I'm against the Black Girls Code initiative, BTW. I just think the person who posed the question above about "White guys code" has a point in a way. In this case though, if an individual wants to put their time, effort and resources into helping one specific group, well, that's their right. No one can save the entire world (except Bruce Willis, I guess), so we all have to pick our battles.


No need for scare quotes around "privilege" and "over-represented". These are real things that you can't hand-wave away for the sake of your theoretical exception.


That's making the assumption that white people cannot possibly be poor and that black women cannot possibly be rich. I, for one, was poor most of my life and I'm white, albeit not in the US but just across the pond. There are plenty of white people who live in abject poverty. Deprivation of basic needs knows no colour, creed or gender. Why draw lines when it would benefit more people to refrain from doing so?

That's the problem with statistics - they work on large masses and derive means, medians and modes. There are real people who aren't accurately represented by such statistics and making decisions solely on said statistics is unfair to them.


I don't think you're actually reading the words that you're responding to. Saying that "[s]tatistically, white men have a higher chance at being well...everything," does not, in any way, assume "that white people cannot possibly be poor and that black women cannot possibly be rich"

Saying that white men have a better chance of being rich does not imply that white men are never poor.

>That's the problem with statistics - they work on large masses and derive means, medians and modes.

Great lesson, but if what you're saying is that poor people are disadvantaged, the statistics back that up, too. Both of these statements are true:

1) Black people are disadvantaged

2) Poor people are disadvantaged

These are separate problems. A black individual making $60,000 a year still has fewer privileges than a white person making the same.

Maybe you don't think it's as dire a problem as the poor/non-poor problem, but so what? They are still doing something positive. Maybe I think their resources would be better applied to some other problem, but unless I'm going to volunteer to fix it myself, I'll leave them to their work.


> Why draw lines when it would benefit more people to refrain from doing so?

Being rich does not negate all of the issue that people of color face. Class and white privilege are not the same nor mutually exclusive. They are intersectional and related. When a person of color wants to do something to empower other people of color, that doesn't make them a racist. To say that since some people of color are poor means that a program must be for all poor people is a form of moving the goal posts and derailing.

> There are real people who aren't accurately represented by such statistics and making decisions solely on said statistics is unfair to them.

Statistics tell us the same thing people of color do: they are not treated equally and face racial discrimination, micro and macro, all the time. There is a reason why people of color have less access and opportunity to engage in tech.


"There are plenty of white people who live in abject poverty."

Sure, but just by being another race, there is very little if any chance for non-white males to do certain things. A feel-good story like Jim Carrey would NEVER happen for a Asian male in America. Heck there was even a survey that found women estimate Asian men would need to earn about $200k to have the same 'status' as a white male. So yes, while being poor sucks for all, but be a poor minority is even worse.


I've heard my Asian friends make similar remarks about a lack of Asians in Hollywood. I see it as mainly a consequence of the fact that A. they don't traditionally view acting as a noble or lucrative career path and B. they only make up a small percentage of the population (4.5%)


I don't think it's that simple. Notice how there are arguably more Asian women in the media (newscasts, roles in movies, fashion shows) than Asian men. I don't think there is a lack of men who want to go into it, I think it's just a lack of demand.


100% agree. Continuing to create division with gender or race biased events/groups doesn't seem helpful. The greater issue here is the disadvantaged at large. Why continue to divide our efforts in smaller niche segments? What's wrong with allowing anyone to join in on these sessions?

A lot of these groups, and their titles, just seem to further stigmatize the segments they're trying to help. True equality will only come when access to information and opportunity are available globally and without bias. Drawing lines in the sand isn't the way to go about change.


I read your rant a few times and I've yet to see your point.

Charities should be based on need and helping the greater good, not on playing favorites.

This isn't a charity. A black woman started this program to address a legitimate need that she saw. Others who agreed with her gave her money to do it.

Where is the bad in this? How is this anything but a net positive for the world?


I understand where the GP is coming from.

Teaching kids to code is an absolutely nice thing to do. But segregating based on color or gender or caste is never a good idea. What if a poor white or Asian or Hispanic kid wants to join this class? They'll be turned away?

To give an example: India is a deeply divided society, based on caste/religion etc. In many educational institutions, huge percentage of seats are reserved for the so called "lower" castes. So a kid, who gets very low grades, can get into a good institution, just because he is from a lower caste, even if that kid's family is rich. On the other hand, a poor kid from a so called "higher" caste, can't get in, even after getting high grades, as there are only so many seats and competition is tough. This has wrecked havoc in the Indian society, as absolutely dumb kids get into good colleges, while bright kids are left out.

Charities should never ever be based on color, gender, caste etc. Charity should be based on need and need only. Any kid who wants to learn to code, should be welcome, irrespective of their color. It does however, make sense to say no based on affordability - meaning, saying no to a rich kid makes sense, as he/she will find another teacher anyway, because he/she can afford it.

Again, she is doing a great noble work, no question about it. It would be even more awesome, if she just taught all kids, instead of just black kids.


> But segregating based on color or gender or caste is never a good idea. What if a poor white or Asian or Hispanic kid wants to join this class?

Charities are free to focus on where the most need is based on the limited resources they have. There is a significant lack of women of color in US tech circles, so there is nothing wrong with a charity targeting that. Charity by definition won't be able to focus on everyone.

> To give an example: India is a deeply divided society, based on caste/religion etc.

This is a US-based charity targeting people of color living in the US. Comparisons between the US and India are not helpful here.

> Charities should never ever be based on color, gender, caste etc. Charity should be based on need and need only.

This is nonsense. Those that would benefit the most from this charity program already face discrimination and lack of opportunity BECAUSE OF their race and gender.

> It would be even more awesome, if she just taught all kids, instead of just black kids.

It would also be awesome if social barriers didn't exist at all and this kind of program wouldn't be needed, but we don't live in that world. That said, this program is absolutely doing good work and is right to target who needs this kind of assistance the most.


The assumption that people face discrimination because of race is ham fisted and wrong. People face discrimination in the U.S. largely because of their CULTURE. Dress the wrong way, speak in the wrong dialect (whether that is an Appalachian dialect or a Memphis African American dialect) at a job interview, and you are likely to be discriminated against.

A huge number of black Americans in the U.S. face discrimination because they grew up in a culture which affects the way that they dress, speak, and act. The Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson has a fascinating book called Disintegration about the various cultures present in the African American population in the United States. The particular culture of African Americans that faces the huge barriers of discrimination, bad schools, and bad upbringing are referred to in his book as "the Abandoned." As a white American who grew up in a trailer park in a mostly black area of the rural south, I happen to have a knowledge that most white Americans I encounter don't SEEM to have. And that is that the vast majority of discrimination against black americans is selectively directed against the "Abandoned", mainly in a passive, rather than active way. It is much more insidious in that sense.

I bring this up because too often I see whites who simply don't know anything other than what they learned in a college class say that "blacks" face barriers. It is much, much more complex than that. Here's a quote from a New York Times book review of Robinson's work:

"During the past four decades, Robinson persuasively argues, black America has splintered into four subgroups: the Transcendent elite; the Mainstream middle class, which now accounts for a majority of black Americans; an Emergent community made up of mixed-race families and black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean; and the Abandoned, a large and growing underclass concentrated in the inner cities and depressed pockets of the rural South."


> The assumption that people face discrimination because of race is ham fisted and wrong. People face discrimination in the U.S. largely because of their CULTURE.

Ah of course, if only people acted more white they wouldn't have all these problems! /s

Improving ones class status or conforming to mainstream, white ideas about acceptable culture do not in any way stop or erase racism. Systemic and institutional racism affects all people of color. That some have different experiences or are affected differently is to be expected given how racism intersects with class and gender.

> As a white American who grew up in a trailer park in a mostly black area of the rural south, I happen to have a knowledge that most white Americans I encounter don't SEEM to have

You definitely may have a different experience compared to other white people, but you aren't black and don't live that experience, this factoid isn't relevant. By definition you cannot claim to know black experience first hand because you are not black.

> And that is that the vast majority of discrimination against black americans is selectively directed against the "Abandoned", mainly in a passive, rather than active way.

I don't dispute that the most marginalized people are the most affected by racism, classism, etc. However, that doesn't mean that racism doesn't affect people of color who have class privileges.

BlackGirlsCode is a program directly targeted at the people you call "Abandoned" (get way to establish other-ness by not calling them people and implying that at some point these people were cared for by the mainstream). The whole reason why this program exists in the first place is to help people who have been hit the hardest by racism, classism, and gender discrimination.


'Abandoned' is Eugene Robinson's term. He is a famous, left of center political commentator and writer for the Washington Post. He is black, and if you had any idea of what you were talking about, you would realize that 'Abandoned' doesn't reference them being taken care of by the mainstream at one point. It references the fact that the 'white flight' of the 1950's - 70's is a misnomer. It was really a middle class flight from cities, but the black middle class was delayed in their "abandoning" the inner cities due to racist housing discrimination policies in white suburbs. Once these were taken away in the 60's, the black middle class also fled the cities.

"Ah of course, if only people acted more white they wouldn't have all these problems"

This statement is exactly what I'm talking about. As if there is one 'white' culture in America. There isn't. I speak in a different manner at work than I do at home. My native dialect is not considered acceptable in business. I don't say y'all or ain't, and I shorten my words into the Anglo-Saxon, northeastern dialect that is the de-facto business standard English of the U.S. If I don't, I suffer the consequences. 'White' is a race, not a culture. But again, you completely miss this. I guess you also think that a black person who speaks in a north-eastern anglo-saxon dialect is 'acting white' correct? This is such bullshit, and it is the epitome of a person who learned about culture in a classroom, rather than living in a truly integrated environment.

My best friend growing up was victimized (physically attacked) by 'Abandoned' kids because he did well in school and 'acted white.'(there words, not mine) Nice to see this type of thinking isn't limited to just them. /s

The majority of white people I encounter who claim to be multicultural have never even spent the night under the roof of a person of color, let alone attended churches or social gatherings to truly understand that its about culture, not race.


> It was really a middle class flight from cities, but the black middle class was delayed in their "abandoning" the inner cities due to racist housing discrimination policies in white suburbs. Once these were taken away in the 60's, the black middle class also fled the cities.

You are right that white flight is really a class flight, but we should be clear that whites overwhelmingly benefited from this movement for a variety of reasons, including their easier access to better economic status and the enactment of racist laws that prohibited non-whites from participating in moving to the suburbs.

However, calling people "abandoned" still doesn't make any sense. How can a group of people be abandoned if they were never included in the mainstream in the first place? In a capitalist economy like the US, the middle class depends on the poor to continue to function and that kind of classism is a big part of our society. Ultimately all that matters is that people of color still face many barriers and oppressions, micro and macro, every day and those oppressions are intersectional with race, gender, and class, among other things.

> This statement is exactly what I'm talking about. As if there is one 'white' culture in America.

In the US, there IS only one mainstream culture and it places whiteness above other races. When I say white culture, I do not strictly mean the various cultures and histories of lightly skinned people. Rather, I'm talking about mainstream American culture: white, hetero-normative, imperialist, capitalist, and patriarchal enterprise.

> My best friend growing up was victimized (physically attacked) by 'Abandoned' kids because he did well in school and 'acted white.'(there words, not mine) Nice to see this type of thinking isn't limited to just them. /s

I'm sorry that this happened to your friend, but if you are insinuating that calling point problematic statements is the same as physically beating someone, you are saying that problematic shit is above criticism.


> So a kid, who gets very low grades, can get into a good institution, just because he is from a lower caste, even if that kid's family is rich. On the other hand, a poor kid from a so called "higher" caste, can't get in, even after getting high grades, as there are only so many seats and competition is tough. This has wrecked havoc in the Indian society, as absolutely dumb kids get into good colleges, while bright kids are left out.

This vaguely sounds like affirmative action in the US.


> So a kid, who gets very low grades, can get into a good institution, just because he is from a lower caste, even if that kid's family is rich.

Wait! You're saying that the process of undoing centuries of systemic unfairness might not be perfectly fair itself? And that groups who were historically privileged are now sometimes experiencing a small fraction of what their ancestors dished out? The horror!

That's not to say that we shouldn't work toward a world which is perfectly fair. But I'm ok with the unfairness getting sloshed around a little as we reduce it. As a white USian, it kills me to see people who suddenly discover their sense of fairness only when they might be on the receiving end of a little inequality. Or, often, just getting demoted to mere equality.


FYI, Hispanics were present at the workshops. It should be called "Minority Girls Code", but I still think this name is better and its too late to change it. If a white girl came, I doubt they would be turned away. Men definitely would, as girls demure easily with boys in the room when it comes to tech.


No, apparently we need complete and utter equality or the kids get nothing. :)


The bad in this would be a young black girl trying to bring her hispanic friend. Exclusion is exclusion. If this were the WhiteBoysSew club, you would call it racist, despite the fact that very few white boys learn to sew.


exclusion != racism. Racism has power dynamics associated with it. If exclusion (or special inclusion programs as I would call it) leads to a more racially and gender balanced community it is a good thing.


Whether or not something is good has nothing to do with what it's labeled. Sure by definition it might not be racist but certainly that's how it would play out. A better equation might be:

exclusion != racism ≡ you're a minority


I would be a little surprised if anyone seriously objected to a sewing for boys class


There actually are groups like that for areas where men are historically underrepresented, such as the American Assembly for Men in Nursing (http://aamn.org/). As far as I know they don't get a lot of flak.

With white people in specific there is a bit of eyebrow-raising, because "white" is a bit broad, a historically dominant group (in the U.S.), and has some history of "white organizations" being intended mainly for exclusionary purposes. Despite being white myself, I would probably be skeptical of the intentions of someone who asked me to join an organization with "white" in the name. More specific organizations targeting subsets of white people are common, though. For example, there are scholarship programs for Americans of Greek ancestry. There are also a number of initiatives targeting "Rural Appalachians", which is not definitionally white, but is almost exclusively an identity held by white people.


More specific organizations targeting subsets of white people are common, though. For example, there are scholarship programs for Americans of Greek ancestry.

Lots this non-Anglos weren't considered white back in the day. JFK was asked if his being Catholic would hinder him.


[deleted]


I think his point is that the program is being racist (in the sense that it is preferring a race to another), which we are conditioned to think of as wrong. But, because it benefits a minority, it's okay.

It's also sexist.


I'd guess the bad bit is the sexism and racism.

Would you be so positive if it was some program that excluded any applicant that wasn't a white male?



I disagree. Everyone can be a minority if they decide to, depending on how you cut the population.

To claim "white males" are a majority is just an arbitrary distinction you're making. Everyone is a majority or minority depending on your criteria.

You don't fix racism/sexist/etc with more racism/sexism/etc. You fix it by being inclusive, and judging people on their merits.


The goal of this program isn't to fix racism or sexism. It's to encourage a group of people to explore programming who do so at lower a rate than many other groups. If the talents and desires needed to program are evenly distributed among the population, this is a targeted way to improve the lives of people who wouldn't discover programming on their own. A program that wasn't narrowly targeted would have a lower return on investment.


And that's fine. But you can't have it both ways...

If you believe in free speech, you have to accept people saying things you don't like.

If you believe in freedom to set criteria on who you accept for something, you should also accept "white men only private clubs" etc.


While I might find someone's speech distasteful, I'd fight for it's legality. While I'd find "white men only private clubs" distasteful, I think they should be legal.

When it comes to taste, however, I'll absolutely have it both ways. Some racial preferences are noble. Some are repugnant.


They already exist... they're called fraternities... minus a token person of color here and there


Nobody wants it both ways here. I do accept "white men only private clubs". I think they're shitty and absurd, but so be it, it's a free country.

I'm not sure what you're arguing against. Nobody said they're excluding non-blacks or non-girls. Maybe they would, and I would definitely disagree with that. What they are doing is focusing their attention on black girls. Other children are not being disadvantaged in the process just because there isn't a group that caters specifically to their demographic.


I was just pointing out a possible double standard in some peoples thinking... eg racism/sexism is fine, but only if it's in a certain direction.


This is not an either/or, black/white situation. It's not just A or B. There are lots of options here. Don't pretend there are only 2 options.


Everyone can be a minority if they decide to, depending on how you cut the population.

Correct. But not all minorities have the same amount of power/wealth/prestigate/social stigma/advantages. "Minority" was originally a term to refer to some people. Don't take it too literally. It's not "minorities" per se that's bad, it's when one "minority" has much less power and advantages than the people who aren't in that minority.


What exactly do you disagree with?

> Everyone can be a minority if they decide to, depending on how you cut the population.

No, not if they "decide to". I think you mean that every person on the planet has minority status within any number of categorizations, but we're talking about categorizations that actually matter in terms of discrimination.

Or do you mean to argue that U.S. soccer fans, marathon runners, and male nurses (all minorities) have similar life experiences as racial minorities?

> To claim "white males" are a majority is just an arbitrary distinction you're making.

It's not arbitrary if it's a salient factor in determining a person's social and economic outcome.

> You fix it by being inclusive, and judging people on their merits.

Indeed. Interesting, though, that you're more concerned about how this group is acting in regard than how society at large is...


Everyone can be a minority if they decide to, depending on how you cut the population.

In other news: down is up, black is white, and true is false, depending on your criteria.

There are actual facts in the world and you don't get to change them to suit your side of the argument.


It's all about how it's framed and who is watching. If it is a local men's club dedicated to charitable acts in a county that is almost entirely white then the response would likely be very positive. I say this confidently because there are a huge number of such groups, they just aren't NAMED "club for white men only".


Yeah, it's not about playing favorites, good try though. It's about actually helping a specific group. Under this view, we should just have

"Help Kids learn to code"

or, maybe that is agist

"Help People learn to code"

I won't be pedantic and claim maybe you won't like the emphasis on "people," I'll stop there. The problem is that I think you could demonstrate that such a broad/general program would not be as effective as one focused on this particular or similar groups ("bald hispanic men under 40" as someone else so eloquently put is not a serious group).

There is something qualitative about the world and social interactions that is completely missed by this simplistic mentality; this sort of thing is always couched in logic but it is argument free of any necessary context.


So you're saying that charities should do a breakdown of all the demographics in a given area, and spend exactly the same resources on getting them all help? I wasn't aware that charities and non-profits were supposed to be so generalized.

I thought targeting specific issues was part of the point, to have a greater chance at solving at least one problem.

The net effect of this organization's efforts will be to elevate several different demographics by targeting one. White/black/etc women will be able to relate to the black women in this course. Black men and women will be able to relate to the black women in this course. On top of that, since it's kids, their friends who are kids of any race/sex will find it easier to relate to, and eventually study and work in the field.

tl;dr This helps a ton of people by only targeting a few. It's an amazing and effective idea.


There should be zero targeting of ethnicity. Excluding people based on ethnicity is wrong, no matter what the ethnic group is. And what makes you so sure that black men would relate to black women better than they would men of other ethnic backgrounds? Which is the bigger divider, gender or ethnicity?

The point I am making isn't that this isn't a good thing, because as I said in my original post, helping any disadvantaged group of people is a good thing. I'm simply pointing out the hypocrisy in doing it based on race. Why not make it CityGirlsCode? If the argument for BlackGirlsCode is so logical, why would it be wrong to have an organization called WhiteGirlsCode in the poor areas of Appalachia? It's wrong in both instances, its just that modern political correctness has taught you that it's ok to discriminate based on race as long as it isn't favoring whites.


I'm kind of struggling to figure out how to explain this.

You know how there's very few women in IT/CS?

You know how there's very few black people in IT/CS?

You know how people have been trying to figure out, 'Hey, how do we get more women and black people into IT/CS?'

This solves both problems.

What you're basically telling me is that trying to take people who generally have to struggle the most in life, and have the hardest time trying to get into technology, that helping them is wrong (morally? ethically?) and should be stopped because we should ignore the fact that they have a harder time than most because you don't like the idea of talking about race, or sex, or anything in specifics.

Wake up, pal. This is the real world. In the real world, people don't get treated fairly, and they don't get to live exactly the same lives. We should strive to help people that need it the most, yes, and sometimes this means working with one of those groups.

One of the reasons we do this is because there are special considerations when dealing with a specific group. Women, for example. They don't want arrogant objectifying men to intimidate them as they try to learn a new, difficult, intimidating subject. So there are organizations that try to help just women, to get around these problems.

Black people have their own problems to deal with. Sometimes, it affects those who live in economically-depressed clusters of an area. Most of the time, this is an overwhelmingly large number of the population of that area. As a result, it becomes significantly more challenging for a black person in that area to do something like learn to program than a white person in that area, and thus, they need a little more support.

It's not wrong to acknowledge this. It's just a fact of life. And in helping specific people who are having a hard time of things, we help those who are (in some cases) in the most need.

So please, get off your fucking high horse and give these people some credit for actually trying to help people.


You don't get it. By "not discriminating" you are essentially discriminating against everyone who isn't in the majority. People are not these ideal unxenophobic people. You say you grew up in a black neighborhood but I'm going to guess you are a white male yourself.

People group by like and are often exclusionary. Look at Gnome and Google's summer of code. They have started doing specifically female targeted ones because they females are there but aren't applying to the normal ones for a myrid of reasons plenty of which are mighty valid.

I'm sorry but targeted helping is needed and is a good thing. Stop over reacting because for the first time you almost nearly kind of feel the sting of discrimination. All is not even close to equal.


"You don't get it. By "not discriminating" you are essentially discriminating against everyone who isn't in the majority. People are not these ideal unxenophobic people. You say you grew up in a black neighborhood but I'm going to guess you are a white male yourself."

This a million times over. White men have certain inherent advantages over other demographic makeups in the Western world that it's laughable a white guy would feel offended by this small little group that's marginalized. It's like a rich person being offended that a non-for-profit just exists for poor people.


> There should be zero targeting of ethnicity.

So I shouldn't be allowed to volunteer with the American Hellenic Progressive Association, a group dedicated towards looking at problems and interests specific to Greek-Americans? Why not? Not every group can target every community's problems, so it sometimes makes sense to target subgroups imo.


Apparently that makes you racist.


Look, it's simple. There has been an imbalance for a long time. One group is lagging behind because of hundreds of years of slavery, discrimination and oppression. Being a black women means that she was being doubly oppressed, one for being black and the other for being a women. What is happening in this particular example is that somebody is trying to fix the injustice that happened against a specific demographic for hundreds of years.

Even though slavery and "separate but equal" are gone, and finally women have the right to vote, the effects of all that oppression is still being felt because of inertia (i.e. they are trapped in a cycle of poverty). The healing from all that oppression is happening slowly and some people are just trying to speed it up.

At least I think that is what is happening here.


Excluding people based on ethnicity is wrong, no matter what the ethnic group is.

I disagree. In an ideal world, yes you're right. But that's not reality. In this world, it's OK. It's good and moral to try to eliminate the inherent disadvantages that some groups have. It's better in the long term. This is the right thing to do.

it's ok to discriminate based on race as long as it isn't favoring whites.

Pretty much yes. Non-whites have much less power, ergo they need it.


"...its just that modern political correctness has taught you that it's ok to discriminate based on race as long as it isn't favoring whites."

That's because white men have less barriers to... well everything.


Dude, I'm a fairly new user with low karma but I'm going to burn every bit of it up in this one post so I'm going to try to make it good.

First, let me ask you a question. What's the poorest country in the western hemisphere? Haiti. What makes it "special"? Now, what's the poorest most impoverished continent in the world? Africa. What makes it "special"? I think you get the picture.

I'm going to tell you a little secret. Black people statistically speaking are intellectually inferior. You don't have to like it, I don't have to like it, the Hacker News zeitgeist doesn't have to like it but it's true.

The question is, what do you do about that. Do you pretend everybody is the same and give everybody equal opportunity sink or swim? That sounds good in the libertarian utopia but the fact is we live in the real world and if you do that you are going to have a class of people that will never reach parity no matter what happens. Left to their own devices, black people are incapable as a group to ever reach the cultural and social level of white and Asian people.

That being the case, you can either live with that which is a non-starter unless you want downtown SF look like downtown Johannesburg. So the only realistic option is to "stack the deck". Everyone that has ever thought about it for more than 5 minutes realizes that this has to happen in order for our mixed society to remain sane. The ivory tower "liberals" understand this far more than you realize and despite the public rhetoric of equality, behind the scenes, the dials are turned to make sure that despite the fact that blacks could never compete on merit, there is just enough stacked in their favor and just subtly enough that they have at least some chance. Thus programs like BlackGirlsCode.

And that's it. I don't like it. I wish blacks were on par intellectually but that just isn't the case and won't be anytime soon so I buy in to this "fix". Give it some thought and you might too.

BTW, before you get too far off on your own superiority remember that Ashkenazi jews (Einstein, etc.) are statistically a fifth to a full standard deviation above the average in mathematical and verbal IQ tests. Ever wonder why something like 50 percent of the nobel prizes go to them? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jewish_intelligence

Bye bye Karma.


Old studies show that intelligence is largely genetic. New studies are increasingly showing that it is much, much, more influenced by environment. This isn't reddit, so nobody can downvote you. You know what you said was offensive, but you probably don't know that what you said is completely, absolutely scientifically inaccurate. I could answer this with data, but instead I'll be anecdotal. It's not scientific, but it speaks a little for the science. My best friend growing up (his family lived a mile away from my trailer park) was a black kid. His family practically took me in. His mom was a lawyer and his dad was a cop. They worked their asses off teaching their kids right. Both children became stellar successes in academics. High SAT scores, the whole package. Their influence on ME was huge. Without them I would've ended up like my white trash family. It was their culture that helped me get out of the cycle of poverty. It was their culture that created an environment of learning that fostered higher IQ's in their kids, and by proxy, me. Culture, not race, is what drives environment. Environment drives intelligence. I don't want to sit here and call you a racist, or say anything mean. I just want you to read this and change as a person, and realize that what you believe to be true is wrong. My buddy and his family are still very close with me. We hang out on a weekly basis, and he is a role model to me in his accomplishments as a professional and a father. I wish I was half the guy he was. If just a third of the black men in America had been raised the way he was, America would be in much better shape as a country.


"New studies are increasingly showing that it is much, much, more influenced by environment."

Let me translate: we have a socially responsible conclusion now let's design a study that produces it.

"This isn't reddit, so nobody can downvote you."

When you get karma over 150, you will see a little arrow pointing down next to each comment.

"You know what you said was offensive, but you probably don't know that what you said is completely, absolutely scientifically inaccurate."

Have fun deluding yourself.

"I could answer this with data, but instead I'll be anecdotal."

Of course you'll be anecdotal. I would expect no less.

"My best friend"

Bored already.


Where are your studies that show that black children that grow up in actual middle class homes in non-impoverished communities do substantially worse than their white counter parts? By your position they should be as illiterate as those in deep poverty.

This is a key point. You are completely dismissing environmental factors. So therefore, under your ridiculous argument we should see no significant difference between the supposed "intellectual inferiority" of black people between those two groups. How could there be? You have stated that would be done clearly because it is genetic. However, your case now fails completely.

You're just a racist and you want to proffer your position in a way that tries to make fun of those that agree with your racism as either being naive or "liberal fools" or whatever. But it is you that are deceived.


"Where are your studies that show that black children that grow up in actual middle class homes in non-impoverished communities do substantially worse than their white counter parts? By your position they should be as illiterate as those in deep poverty.

This is a key point. You are completely dismissing environmental factors.

You're just a racist"

I'm going to stop quoting right there because you are mistaken. Only in your own absurd caricature of me that you've created do I completely discount environmental factors. Of course children of any race, all things being equal, will statistically thrive better in a stable environment. That doesn't discount hereditary factors though which are also very important. There are lots of rigorous scientific studies that support the existence of hereditary intelligence and that it is typically lower in blacks. I realize there is a certain amount of "controversy" among psychometrists in the area of white vs black intellect but a great deal of it is political and manufactured. People like you that scream "racist blah blah" are the ones that stunt science and progress but go on and make me out to be your boogeyman and twist my words how you want so that you don't have to consider what I'm saying. Whatever makes you feel better, buddy.


Did you know that White people are statistically more likely to consider themselves superior to non-White people?

Also, it's obvious why Jews get more nobel prizes. Since they control the media and the banks, they get better education and better publication of their work. Duh! Don't believe me? Type in "jews control " in Google and check out the auto-complete results. Proof.


You think you're being clever by mocking me? Just for the record the people that believe themselves the most clever are the ones least qualified to make the judgement.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect


The fact that you cite the Dunning–Kruger effect while providing no evidence, citations, or logical arguments in your OP is quite amazing.


This is a web forum not a dissertation. Do your own research.


You asserted that black people are of lower intelligence than other groups of people without any citation or argument. You also argued that the status of Haiti and Africa (two unalike things, btw, as one is a country and another a continent) is solely due to this lack of intelligence instead of a history of exploitation and colonialism. Then, you cite the Dunning–Kruger effect as a way to dismiss criticism.

I am merely pointing out that you 1) offer no info, 2) clearly are racist, and 3) believe yourself that you have a superior point of view on this story. What you have said is contradictory and it is essential that this is pointed out so that others see why you are so very wrong.


"You asserted that black people are of lower intelligence than other groups"

I didn't "assert" anything. I pointed out that statistically speaking blacks are intellectually inferior. Sans statistics, yes, that would be an assertion but the statistics exist and are voluminous. Do your own research though as I'm not your professor.

"clearly are racist"

I'm not sure where you got that from. Maybe my use of the word "inferior". I'm sorry that word has a negative connotation as I meant it as prosaically as possible. Of course, when you can't argue marginalize, right?

At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite I've had more intelligent discussion with my 2 year old nephew.


Nah, I just think you're a douchebag and felt like being snarky.


"Nah, I just think you're a douchebag and felt like being snarky."

I see you're an arrogant prick in addition to the mental midgetry. Don't forget to keep those defenses up in the future. Don't argue intelligently. Seek to marginalize your opponent. That'll make you feel better. :)


The poorest countries in Europe are ethnically Catholic. By your logic, catholics are stupid. Stupid mentally inferior JFK.


I'm not arguing that blacks are "stupid" because they are poor. It astounds me that you would misinterpret my words so grossly.


Eh, yes you did:

What's the poorest country in the western hemisphere? Haiti. What makes it "special"? Now, what's the poorest most impoverished continent in the world? Africa. What makes it "special"? I think you get the picture.

You implied "poverty, ergo stupidity"


I interpreted it the other way around, it's easy to get mixed up when subjects are sensitive. He's not trying a deductive argument (which would be trivially defeated by pointing to, off the top of my head, Perelman, and many others one which you also tried), his approach is inductive. He's offering statements about reality as evidence which are consistent with the hypothesis that "black people are stupider on average". That hypothesis was also made and argued pre- and post-civil war in America, along with the prediction that subjecting the freed slaves to the economic slavery of the north was a worse fate because it was possible to work full-time and still not be able to afford adequate living, something we also see more clearly in east-Asian sweat shops today but also more subtly (i.e. the actual conditions are better but real choices and freedoms are nonexistent) all around America.

Another approach to having a useful discussion is "What would the world look like if 'black people are stupider on average' was true, and if it was false?"

Of course his post wasn't careful enough since you still misinterpreted it, it's even possible I misinterpreted as well, but even if I'm wrong I consider my reading more charitable and if you seek a discussion it's better to pick the more charitable one given alternatives.

Of course, you could just flame him as others are doing. Might be better to just downvote and ignore (as many are as well).


If that bar of 'acceptable evidence' is set so that those examples can be used to support the theory that "black people are stupider than average", then my examples of poor catholic countries in europe should be acceptable to support the theory that "catholics are stupidier on average".

There used to be a lot of discrimination against people based on religious groups within christianity. But now catholics are considered white.


"Of course, you could just flame him as others are doing. Might be better to just downvote and ignore (as many are as well)."

Yep, in the absence of actual argument just marginalize. I'm sure you feel much better now.


I'm pretty sure he stated, not implied, that "blacks" are untermenschen


>Dude, I'm a fairly new user with low karma but I'm going to burn every bit of it up in this one post so I'm going to try to make it good. >First, let me ask you a question. What's the poorest country in the western hemisphere? Haiti. What makes it "special"? Now, what's the poorest most impoverished continent in the world? Africa. What makes it "special"? I think you get the picture.

What utter racist drivel is this? In a later comment you get upset by someone equating your position with thinking intelligence with economic status but you are clearly making such a claim here. Well, by and large Asia is a pretty dirt poor continent as well, what do you have to say about that? Do you think Africa just popped into existence recently? There is a whole historical force at work. OK, clearly Africa as continent (I guess we have to ignore Egypt under your view) has done a pretty bad job developing large civilizations/militaries and eventually becoming a world Imperial power. The connection between Haiti and Africa as two "separate" examples is pretty ignorant, do you know how Haiti become populated with all those people? Are familiar with this idea called the slave trade?

>I'm going to tell you a little secret. Black people statistically speaking are intellectually inferior. You don't have to like it, I don't have to like it, the Hacker News zeitgeist doesn't have to like it but it's true.

Prove it. That's a bold claim and linking to a bunch of white supremacist web sites or links to Wikipedia that admit not credibility won't help you prove your argument Herr Doktor. It is not "Hacker News zeitgeist" to say that you are proffering a pretty controversial statement with no evidence in fact is very incidiary. I agree that if there was actual, we should admit, but there is no truth to this notion Herr Doctor.

>The question is, what do you do about that. Do you pretend everybody is the same and give everybody equal opportunity sink or swim? That sounds good in the libertarian utopia but the fact is we live in the real world and if you do that you are going to have a class of people that will never reach parity no matter what happens.

>Left to their own devices, black people are incapable as a group to ever reach the cultural and social level of white and Asian people.

That's just ridiculous. I'm still waiting for the proof.

>That being the case, you can either live with that which is a non-starter unless you want downtown SF look like downtown Johannesburg.

Do you think such phenomena does not exist in white or Asian cultures? If that is the case you are either very naive, ignorant, or have never traveled anywhere but the last is no excuse because apparently you do have the Internet. What you allude to exists in droves among white populations, without question.

>So the only realistic option is to "stack the deck". Everyone that has ever thought about it for more than 5 minutes realizes that this has to happen in order for our mixed society to remain sane. The ivory tower "liberals" understand this far more than you realize and despite the public rhetoric of equality, behind the scenes, the dials are turned to make sure that despite the fact that blacks could never compete on merit, there is just enough stacked in their favor and just subtly enough that they have at least some chance. Thus programs like BlackGirlsCode. >And that's it. I don't like it. I wish blacks were on par intellectually but that just isn't the case and won't be anytime soon so I buy in to this "fix". Give it some thought and you might too.

This is just trash and so are you. Where is the evidence. There is quite the evidence to the contrary. If this was the case why are there so many black PhDs, scientists, etc. Sure, there is not as many for various non-genetic reasons but under your view they shouldn't even exist. How could do they? I mean under your view, perhpas there could be ONE because I guess you'd argue that person would be like strange anomaly but there are clearly more than that. It's ridiculous. In fact, we don't even need to point to PhDs and other scientists, because you are arguing blacks are intellectually inferior. Have you ever met a black a person other than when you might be running scared from crackheads in downtown San Francisco? There are white crackheads to you know.

>BTW, before you get too far off on your own superiority remember that Ashkenazi jews (Einstein, etc.) are statistically a fifth to a full standard deviation above the average in mathematical and verbal IQ tests. Ever wonder why something like 50 percent of the nobel prizes go to them? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jewish_intelligence

You make a bad argument for intelligence when you seem to be unable to read and comprehend your own Wikipedia links. Ever read your own Wikipedia links? There is nothing contained that article that amounts to anything scientific other than some vague references to a cultural tradition of close study and scholarship as well as increased economic position.

Do you think a complete lack of anything resembling science does not matter as long as your point is a racist one?

>Bye bye Karma.

Stop projecting.


"What utter racist drivel is this?"

Yes, I'm expecting some real intelligent debate outta this one.

"In a later comment you get upset by someone equating your position with thinking intelligence with economic status but you are clearly making such a claim here."

I see just like the other guy reading comprehension isn't your strong point.

"do you know how Haiti become populated with all those people? Are familiar with this idea called the slave trade?"

Slavery and colonialism ended in Haiti a long time ago but lets keep making excuses. Have you considered the possibility that using historical happenings as a crutch might be part of the reason real progress isn't being made in Haiti? What if the Asians who suffered on the railroads in 19th century US made the same types of excuses? What about Indians that suffered under British rule? Kurds in Iraq? And on and on.

I'm sorry, I'm done with debating you idiots for one day. This has become a time sink into collective delusion and willful ignorance. Buh bye.


Can you explain what you're doing to help disadvantaged people learn to code that is better than this?

Because if the answer is nothing, then I don't think you have much standing to talk. Shouting "U R DOIN IT RONG" while standing on the sidelines just reduces the the speed at which the world gets better, so I don't have a lot of time for it.

Anyhow, I gave 'em a hundred bucks. I give money to other people, too.


Is it really true that charities should be allocated first based on need? Maybe public funding, but these are voluntary donations by private individuals. A lot of charity is based on affinity to groups. You're throwing the baby out with the bathwater if you want to eliminate this. People give money to whomever they want, it may not be the most fair or do the most critical good in an absolute sense, but it might ameliorate some real suffering and disadvantage in the world.


Agreed. This fits the definition of racism: "Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief."

Any targeting based on the color of skin is wrong. Two wrongs don't make a right. Charity should be called something that does that imply racial discrimination.


Depends. Some people define racism (& sexism etc) as "descrimination against a disadvantaged group by a privilieged group based on what separates them".

This would mean a black person in USA would not in general be able to be racist against a white person.


So I take it that any attempt to help Native Americans on the reservation is racist because it is not helping poor whites?


Things are not black and white, no pun intended. But Habitat for Humanity is a good example of a charity executed right. They help Native Americans, to everyone else. So yes, if you exclusively help someone solely based off the color of their skin, with the notion of advancing only a certain race, then yes, I would consider that racist. It's not called Habitat for Native Americans. Or Habitat for Blacks. It's called Habitat for Humanity. Also, affirmative action based off of race is morally wrong. (Note about me: My gf is of another ethnicity origin than myself, and I love diversity. I see organizations that are based on race morally wrong, and promote segregation and cultural bias)


It's an issue of marketing. Which message converts better?

1. Children are starving in Africa. Send money.

2. This particular child [picture] in Sudan will probably die in the next 7 days. Send money.

Specialization is good.


My father had some bad experiences with "La Raza" in the 60s because back then it really was race politics. Today my wife and I participate in a lot of their arts programs even though I look as white as Martha Stewart.

I imagine that if a hispanic girl were to ask to join this program, she would not be told no. It'd be an interesting experiment. On the other hand this looks like a privately-funded venture so they are free to do what they wish.

I have a dog in this fight because I give away copies of my book to clubs like this. I have noticed that the girls clubs are a lot more organized and get press, which worries me a bit. But helping someone is better than helping no one.

Have you a suggestion for how I can reach out to more kinds of people?


What's the difference between "Girls Code" and "Black Girls Code". They both exclude a significant chunk of the population, but one is slightly more targeted than the other. They both exclude based on biology and facts on ground. It's the exact same thing.

One could also say "Dallas Girls Code", a program for girls in the dallas area. It's perfectly okay.


"It's too bad that there isn't a powerful special interest group backed up by a bunch of humanities professors looking out for the impoverished non-black non-females"

Shorter JPKab: poor white men, when will they ever catch a break in this country.


There's a simple test I use for these cases... it's called the "Least Restrictive Subset Test", or LRST for short. You apply it to see if targeting a specific group is worthwhile.

It works by asking two simple questions:

1) If I marketed to a less restrictive subset, would I capture a smaller percentage of my target audience (in proportion to the population)? For example, if I said, "GirlsCode" -- would I still get ~10% black females attending? I suspect you'd get the expected percentage of white females attending, so if white girls were my target audience, I needn't restrict the audience any further. But for black females I would.

2) If I market to this restricted subset will I likely increase the total number of my target audience in attendance. For example, if I said, "WhiteMenCode" do I expect more white men to attend than if I said "MenCode"? I suspect probably not (at least not people serious about coding, versus just trying to prove a point about race). But BlackGirlsCode probably will increase the total number of black females who are serious about learning to code.

I think BlackGirlsCode passes the LRST.


I can see your point but I think it is pretty clear that most of the minority groups are at a disadvantage to start with (Asian and Jewish minority in US are exceptions, their income is higher than average, the proportion of Jewish representation in law schools, for example, is disproportionately higher, perhaps 35% at Harvard, but that's an exceptionally well-accomplished group).

If the parents don't have enough money to feed the kids, the first thing on the mind would not be the next programming language to learn, it would be about the meal for the next afternoon. Compare that kid to someone whose parents are able to afford the education of kids at the top, most expensive business school or law school of the country. They are not competing at an equal level. Unfortunately the average black happens to be much poorer than the average white (although there are more poor whites than the total number of poor blacks but that's because the blacks are about 13% of total, whites are about 72% of the total). [edited]

I don't think anyone in Brazil would have an event "Latina hackathon" but a "Latina hackathon" in US would be understandable.

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/us/study-finds-medi...

Study finds median wealth for single black women at $5

Among the most startling revelations in the wealth data is that while single white women in the prime of their working years (ages 36 to 49) have a median wealth of $42,600 (still only 61 percent of their single white male counterparts), the median wealth for single black women is only $5.


Wow, such a lot of negative comments. HN really sounds mean sometimes. Sure, it is a charity program targeting a specific group of people. But that's true of essentially all charities. The Boy Scouts only help boys, PyLadies only teaches women to program in Python, the The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria doesn't help people with cancer. The organizers are adding to the social good and helping a deserving group of girls. Good for them.


The Boy Scouts only help boys

And only straight boys! No gays allowed there (in general).


What I love about this initiative is it solves several problems at once, and builds a foundation for related groups (women in general, and black people in general) to gravitate to this field. They'll naturally find people similar to them and make it easier to relate to their peers.


"They'll naturally find people similar to them and make it easier to relate to their peers."

Relatability is the key thing. You're spot on here.


I've been following this program for a while and even got to meet Kimberly at O'Reilly Fluent earlier in the year.. her enthusiasm is infectious! As important as her work is to the girls, though, I particularly hope she inspires other adults to take on this mentoring role so that everywhere can have its equivalent.

Things like this are springing up all over. For example, here in the UK, Code Club has been founded by two women to create and support after-school programming clubs: http://codeclub.org.uk/


I volunteered for when they come to Detroit!


One line here stuck out for bad statistics:

"According to research gathered by BlackGirlsCode, African American women make up 4.8 percent of graduate enrollment in computer science programs, while only 0.03 percent of female Hispanic freshmen intended to major in computer science in 2006."

To start with, the line implies that these two statistic are related, but they are about different ethnicities, at different education levels comparing completely separate metrics!

Secondly, the 4.8 percent statistic seems to imply that this is under-representation, but being that African Americans make up ~12.6% of the population and women are very roughly half of that, 4.8 percent seems really close to demographic representation.


This is great, and good for them.

However as often happens, people are now complaining that they shouldn't have a programme just for black girls since it's racist/sexist. It's not. People/groups who need help and are disadvantaged, should be helped. If 2 babies are born, and one is very healthy and one is very sick, we should give the sick one more medical attention than the healthy one. We should not give everyone the same amount of help, we should try to ensure that everyone has the same chance. That means giving one group more help than another. 'Everyone having the same chance' is what happens when we get rid of racism/sexism (we're not there yet).


'Everyone having the same chance' is what happens when we get rid of racism/sexism (we're not there yet).

Indeed. Someone wrote a post about how being born white and male in America is like starting a character in an RPG with boosted stats.

It does have a hint of truth to it. There is literally nothing a white man can't do in America whereas other races have significantly less chance of achieving the same success, especially Asian Americans.


This is such an important initiative! Several teens that were in my Media course (focused on Minority Women in Technology) are attending the Atlanta Session.


Several comments claim that targeting by race is inherently wrong. I disagree. Anyone want to back that claim up with logic?


Sometimes people in the privileged group (male and/or white) don't like targetting based on race/gender when it's negatively affects them.


This kind of "logic" really bothers me.

Just because a chunk of a certain demographic is comparatively "privileged", we should gloss over all those who struggle to make a living simply because they were born a white male? If anything, being born poor and white can be more difficult because people bitch about your "privilege" each time you ask for the slightest degree of help.

If you're poor and white, you're pretty much screwed when it comes to being able to afford colleges. Most scholarships serve people that belong to a certain (non-white) race, religious, or military background. You don't get access to any tutoring and you're usually working after school to help support your family, so it's borderline impossible to get a 4.0 GPA and even begin qualifying for non-racial scholarships.

Outside of racial profiling within America's law enforcement (which is a huge, huge, huge problem that desperately needs to be fixed), there's really no "white privilege" in America. It's "high-income privilege." Anybody born of a wealthy family has a chance, and anybody who isn't suffers. The problem is that we're still looking at race when determining how much support to offer instead of looking at how much a person needs it.


> Outside of racial profiling within America's law enforcement [...] there's really no "white privilege" in America.

Spoken like a white person. As a fellow white person, let me tell you: you're wrong.

Some years back I shaved my head for a year or so. The difference was astounding. People treated me very differently. Suddenly they were scared of me. I mentioned to some friends that people were now crossing the street to avoid me. One of them, a tall black male, said, "Well now you know." And he's right. I look for it now and I see white people doing stuff like this all the time. I'm sure I miss a lot of it, too.

Anecdotes aside, a study shows that people with white-sounding names get 50% more job callbacks than people with black-sounding names: http://www.nber.org/digest/sep03/w9873.html

I agree that there's substantial class discrimination, and further that being poor in the US is a bucket of shit. But although white privilege may have lessened in the last 50 years, it is still alive and well.


Another way (as a man) to get an idea of what's going on. Join a kitting/crochet group. Try to learn how to knit. (There's knitting circles all over the place) You'll find yourself in a female dominated environment, tis a kinda weird feeling at first, and a bit eye opening.


Race isn't the only issue. Poverty/classism is also an issue. In some contexts poor white people are more privileged than poor black people, and in some cases less privileged than a rich (white or black or …) person. But race is an issue, so we should tackle it. And poverty is an issue, so we should tackle it.

For an example of benefits of being white in USA, have a look at this: http://www.amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html#daily


I was just about to call out the gender discrimination myself. You're not alone.


I edited the comment to remove the gender reference before you replied, as several people have now brought it up.


Ok, cool. Everyone has their ideas, they all make sense (we're all reasonably rational people here) and, in an ideal world, I agree that we should not need or have these groups. Except... the under-representation is already there, so we have to deal with it. And I think BGC is a damn fine way to deal with part of it.

Is there anyone here who is NOT a white male and would care to comment?


While agree with your comment, I think your last comment is unwarranted.

Just because somebody is a white male does not devalue their point. Moreover, you should really never judge an argument based on the person making it.


Hi! White male here.

I am absolutely less qualified to comment on racism. Because I very rarely experience it, and often don't notice it when it happens.

Similarly, I also believe that one should be suspicious of non-technical managers who have opinions on how to code.

Experience matters.


> Just because somebody is a white male does not devalue their point.

The people least affected by racism, both personally and systemically, absolutely have almost no value to their comments. How can they? In the US, white-ness is the norm. If you aren't white, you get treated differently automatically and people don't hesitate to call you racist when you try to do something to help people just like yourself.

> Moreover, you should really never judge an argument based on the person making it.

This is true, but when someone claims to have knowledge about a thing they cannot by definition experience, they should absolutely be called out on it. Also, talking over actual people of color to give a white opinion is erasing and serves to make those people, already hard to find in tech circles, even more invisible.


I agree wholeheartedly with your point, and as I said before most of the ideas presented here, either for or against this initiative, make sense! It's a difficult subject and one that should be discussed.

It just seems to me that we all have lots of ideas about stuff most of us have never been through, and it might be nice to hear from people who've actually been through them.


"Our mission with BlackGirlsCode is to “change the ratio” of women of color in technology and that begins with introducing computer programming and STEM subjects to girls of all colors at an early age. "

It's not only for black girls. I suspect it's for all but white though so they still exclude based on color. And of course age and gender.

I really wish people would stop reinforcing racial discrimination of all sorts. Even the age discrimination is a bit offensive. I understand it may be easier to get funding when you can present a narrow group.


That is why (for example in Python) there is PyLadies, and that is why there is every other general Python group, in which there is no group-wide disadvantage for white men. Most of these groups I have been to, have mostly been white men with lots of alpha-nerding going on. I can't say I have seen any overt instances of racism but I still totally appreciate that minorities could be uncomfortable and benefit greatly from a support system that could increase their comfort level in the community and make them feel more assured.

I don't see this as a zero-sum war against white people and I hope you don't either.


I don't see it as a war against anybody but whenever you discriminate based on race you are encouraging others to do the same. I don't like to see race brought up in every facet of life. If it wasn't such a commonly used differentiator then everybody would feel comfortable in any group because race would be insignificant.

Taken to the extreme, it becomes downright immature and pathetic. Do we really need a group specifically for blacks, and one for asians, and one for mixed black asians, and one for mexicans, and one for indians... etc? Give me a break. I wish we could all just collectively grow up.

Actually that's not quite right. Young children don't tend to segregate like that. They have us beat in that area. It's only once they learn our ways that they start to do it. Again, because it is continually reinforced as a part of society.


since when do all colors exclude white?


Well I may have read "all colored girls" rather than "girls of all colors" but mostly it doesn't seem to make sense to call your organization BlackGirlsCode and have race be completely irrelevant. Why bring it up at all? It's encouraging race discrimination either way.


> Why bring it up at all?

Ever heard of black girls rock? This is a meme but most people have no clue.

> It's encouraging race discrimination either way

WHO is encouraged to discriminate racially by this? You? Not me.

If you are concerned with racial discrimination, please go visit your public schools across whatever U.S. state you live in and try to explain why there is such racial segregation even in the absence of school names such as Black Boys Academy. Hint, it ain't in the name.


also consider my other comment http://news.ycombinator.org/item?id=4262854 and understand that taking issue with the name, is precisely race discrimination. You'd feel better if it wasn't racial so you are almost certainly withholding support because it is racially identified. That's a self-contradicting position and the only way I can understand what you mean when you say it encourages race discrimination – because you have discriminated. Please prove me wrong with your support for BlackGirlsCode.


It encourages race discrimination because it furthers the idea that race is a category that we should use to group and identify people. It has nothing to do with me personally.

They are, by their own name, discriminating based on race. Even if it is for a positive goal. The problem is that it reinforces race as a significant distinguishing category when it should not be. Many other categories are far more significant. Like income level. In general, a very poor black girl and very poor white girl will have much more in common than a very poor black girl and a very rich black girl.


There are 3 ways to respond to the critics of BlackGirlsCode: 1) The weakest response is to grow upset and say nothing 2) The average response will post a comment in defense of good sense 3) The best response is to take action. So hit this link up and give Black Girls Code a boost of support and morale http://www.blackgirlscode.com/help-us-grow.html

Finally, when PoorPeopleCode, WhiteBoysCode or Latina Hackathon call upon the Hacker News community for support, for the sake of whatever you believe in, GIVE BACK so that others can do what you do. It is NEVER about exclusion. The _meme_ is about recognizing "I'm blessed with talent, skill and experience so I help to pay it forward".

I just took the highest level of action by sending my gift of support of $100.

Don't just sit there shaking your head; do something!


Why not NonCodersCode?

There are plenty of poor, uneducated white girls and boys who could benefit from programs like this.

Oh, what's that you say? We already have enough people with their skin color in the computer science field? Shame on me! You're right -- ignore the white trash.

The (attractive, affluent, privileged) whites who enjoy ignoring white trash are right -- poor, uneducated whites are unimportant. In fact, poor, uneducated whites (especially the toothless ones) are less important and less worthy of help than attractive, affluent, privileged people with more melanin.


I like the idea of the program, but specifically "Black girls"...


The goal of these types of programs is to change cultures. If under-representation isn't caused by biology, then it's caused by culture. If the programs didn't target people within the cultures they're trying to change, they wouldn't succeed. They'd be full of the people who are already likely to be interested in programming, which isn't a problem in itself, but isn't the goal of the programs.


What if under-representation is caused by collectivism? After all, the solution to slavery wasn't reversing or evening out the ethnicities of slave and master, it was getting rid of slavery altogether.


I don't understand. How is collectivism not culture? Slavery was abolished because American culture began to frown upon it.


What do you get rid of here? Black culture?


Why not? This is one of the hardest hit economic demographics in the country. I don't think targeting it to be specifically for them is bad; in fact I think it is probably best. This demographics tends to get lost in the "need more women in tech" crowd.


>Why not?

I agree - IF we can also agree that groups for "White Women", "Bald Hispanic Men Under 40", etc... are also allowed.

Society needs to come to a consensus on this. Either there is a useful purpose to segmenting private groups by age, gender, race, income, etc... or there isn't. If there is a valid purpose, then we should all agree that all possible combination of these factors are equally valid.

The end result is that some poor white woman won't be able to attend because of the color of her skin. I'm not sure what happens to her mulatto friend...I guess it depends how black she looks.


But this is nothing more than naive pedantry. There is a very large economic demographic in this country that is apparently at a disadvantage. It's called black girls/females. It's not bald hispanic athiests, or freckle-faced Irish mormons or celebrity scientologists that have blond hair.

There is a real problem that can potentially be solved. You can play this game if you want but there is quite clearly a qualitative difference between groups like "black girls" and "bald hispanic men under 40." It's just ridiculous; it's sophomoric to conflate the two.

As to your last point, so the perfect is the enemy of the good? The end goal is to help real people, not sit in an ivory tower and debate about whether "race even exists" or any of this nonsense. If calling the group "Black Girls Can Code" allows the group to raise more money and help a very specific group of girls, then that is good.

I think there is a good reason to think that if there was a group called "Woman Can Code" that this particular group/demographic would not benefit as much as it might as it is currently labeled (perhaps less participation, perhaps drowned out by the others, etc). We can be pedantic and cry foul that "Wah, there is not a White Women group or a Native American Transgender" group but that doesn't end up helping anyone.

The world is more complex than that. "Bald Hispanic" is not a comparison to "black girls" any serious person would make.


>There is a very large economic demographic in this country that is apparently at a disadvantage. It's called black girls/females.

The only point in your reply that I understand is that you believe black women are poor, therefore typical social rules regarding segregation don't apply.

>If calling the group "Black Girls Can Code" allows the group to raise more money...

By this logic you are OK with a group called "White boys can code" IF it helped that group raise money? And why not, these could be boys from Appalachia who have Mountain Dew and Snickers for dinner every night.

I think this is a conversation worth having. At some point we need to go beyond convenient stereo types and get to the root of the problem.


> The only point in your reply that I understand is that you believe black women are poor, therefore typical social rules regarding segregation don't apply.

I don't know why you're having trouble understanding this. This stuff is pretty basic to understand. Your view is childish and pedantic. "Wah realizing there are social mores in effect in the real world is just segregation."

> By this logic you are OK with a group called "White boys can code" IF it helped that group raise money? And why not, these could be boys from Appalachia who have Mountain Dew and Snickers for dinner every night.

No, I think there are qualitative social implications that we all recognize when we stop making silly statements like "Why is there not White Entertainment Television." But I do think having groups as you suggested is a good idea but I think the naming of them should pay attention to social realities.


>This stuff is pretty basic to understand.

Well then help me...

>Your view is childish and pedantic.

Ad hominem, not helpful.

>No, I think there are qualitative social implications that we all recognize

Emphasis mine. Like what? Black people are poor, so they get a pass? Is that what you mean? Jesus, just say it.

>But I do think having groups as you suggested is a good idea but I think the naming of them should pay attention to social realities.

What are your version of social realities? You say this shit with a wink and a nod...You know blacks are poor, asians are good with numbers, jews are good with money, whites are oppressors, and gays speak with a lisp. Are these the "social realities" you speak of?

For the love of god, stop being so vague and just say what you mean. For instance, the following is my exact feeling on this matter.

There are only two non-bigoted positions to have on this issue. One, it's OK for people to segregate private groups by race, gender, etc... Or, two, its not OK at all. Any position in between can only be justified by relying on stereo types.


That's not ad hominem, look it up. Your view is childish and pedantic, exactly. You are more concerned with what you suppose to be technically "segregation."

You said all the racist stuff not me. I didn't say that blacks are poor so the get a pass. I said they are social realities that reasonable people, i.e. non-childlike pedants, that understand. :)

There are people still alive that lived under Jim Crow. It is only very recently that public bigotry against black people has been considered taboo. People always trot out "slavery's been over for 150 years" bit but the problems begot by slavery didn't go away over night. In fact, we have some moron on this thread spouting off about how whites are intellectually superior to blacks and the best response most on HN have to that is "Well, we should really consider charitably the intellectual possibility the blacks are 'stupider' than whites."

You've offered nothing more than a false dichotomy in your last statement. Black people have been inundated with the statements both direct and indirect of inferiority. As well, whether you believe it or not, many places even in our current situation are made to feel as the other. Being "black girls" is part of the identify of many "girls that happen to be black (if I'm going to play this pedantic game with you)." Therefore, what exactly with promoting a notion that something fundamental to their identity is good, i.e. "Black Girls Can Code?"

Maybe your jibber jabber would make sense if we were robots or Vulcans, but I mean, that's just no reality. I'm sorry, I can't change that for you. The world is more complicated than you think it is, welcome to Earth.

Do you really want me to explain all of the culture of the Western world to you? I mean it may seem that I'm shirking from a responsibility by not offering you one but it just seems ridiculous that you would need one.


>That's not ad hominem, look it up. Your view is childish and pedantic,

Oh, you said my view...If that's not ad hominem, then I should tell you that I think your view is idiotic and short sighted...I was holding back on that one before.

>but I mean, that's just no [sic] reality

Ok, I get it. The world is the way it is and we should not endeavor to change it. We should treat some people as special and others as not special. Score one more point for moral relativism.

With logic like that, I guess I should hope I'm not in a group that falls out of favor.

>Do you really want me to explain all of the culture of the Western world to you?

In all seriousness, I would be incredibly grateful to hear your version.


Not all defintions of racism mean "Any segmentation based on skin colour". Some people define racism as a privileged powerful racial group discriminating and holding back a disadvantaged racial group.

So yes, a programme that targets helping black people in tech is not racist, but helping white people in tech is racist.


Are poor, uneducated whites less worthy of help than wealthy, affluent blacks?

If you believe so, you're a bigot.

Also, are poor, uneducated whites less worthy of help than poor, uneducated blacks?


I can't reply to your comment, so I'll comment here.

Let's think about some poor, uneducated white kids living in a trailer park without an internet connection. What should they feel when they hear of programs like this? "I'm not important enough to help, because people who look like me already have good jobs?" How should they feel about the myriad of programs and scholarships which explicitly exclude them?

At this point, being black isn't a disadvantage in-and-of-itself. Being poor is a disadvantage, and blacks are more likely to be born poor due in no small part to slavery. But all things being equal, being a poor white person is more difficult than being a poor black person.

And they shouldn't be excluded.


> being a poor white person is more difficult than being a poor black person

Evidence? I'd especially like to see a video of you visiting the trailer parks and public housing projects of America and asking people if they agree with that. I'm not sure which group would take more exception to it.

Regardless, as a former poor white person, I think it's bullshit.


Poor uneducated people (yes including whites) are a disadvantaged group compared to rich people. We should set up a group targetting them.

There are numerous advantaged and disadvantaged groups. Some people are in 1 or 2 or lots. We should try to end all disadvantagness. I don't see a contradiction.


>Are poor, uneducated whites less worthy of help than wealthy, affluent blacks?

Of course not, but in most cases poor uneducated white people are not poor and uneducated because of the racial dynamics. In a lot of cases, the poor black women are poor because of the racial and gender dynamics.


I think the general rule keys around the relative level of privilege a group holds in the relevant society.

I don't see society coming to consensus on this any time soon - but a lack of consensus doesn't and shouldn't stop private meetings that don't clearly cause or promote or contribute to harm to others


Society does pretty much have a consensus on this. If you're working to reduce privilege and increase fairness, some selectivity based on race, gender, and sexual orientation is allowed.

So a group for helping women is considered cricket, but one focused on white women probably wouldn't be, because white people are already privileged enough.


Unless they edited the post, it sounded to me that dusing agrees and likes the idea of it being that specific demographic.


To me it seems that if every thing is going to be broken down demographically to this extent, there will have to be: Black Girls Code, Hispanic Girls Code, Native American Girls Code, and then additional groups for minority males. At that point it seems to get kind of ridiculous as every potential minority-gender combination will need its own group which just seems kind of inefficient to me. I could be horribly wrong though, but that's just how it seems as a white-male outsider.

To an extent, I think that black people, and black girls specifically, not going into CS is really a symptom of a bigger problem. I went to a high school with a lot of black guys and girls and, at least for my graduating class, it really didn't seem like many went to college. Although, Black Girls Code could help get people interested in going to college to further study CS or anything else really. Either way, it'll be really interesting to see how it goes.


If people started every one of these, and actively pursued it, that would be a fantastic problem to have.

You seem to be saying "don't make any of them because it is unfair." I am saying "make any or all of them so that more smart and motivated people can get a hand up and make cool things so the future is great."

If I would get paid and have adequate organizational support I would be all about targeting education at Native Americans on the reservation. Can't you see how petty it would be to say that nobody should try to help Native Americans because it seems somehow "racist" to white males?


A lot of hacker groups are already effectively "whites code" or even "white men code". So "black girls code" is just actually just as specific as some existing groups.


I'm suggesting that any group that limits itself accoring to race or gender is unaccecptable.

If these hacker groups are white only, then we need to break down the barriers that are keeping minorities and women out rather than starting new groups and self-segregating.


I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that the group is very exclusive. After all the women's hacker groups don't mind some men showing up, it's just that the focus is on catering to women. There's nothing wrong with small groups that pander to arbitrarily specific demographics, as long as the groups stay small.


Are you racist or sexist or both? Tongue-in-cheek but I don't understand your problem.


That's kind of how I feel, I don't think there's anything wrong with it but it does seem weirdly specific. It makes me wonder if other industries with poorly-represented population groups have such specific programs.

Surely the demographics of other fields need to be shaken up as well as tech. Nursing comes to mind.


I volunteered for BGC a few months ago and I am a white woman. The problem that this group is trying to solve can be summed up in the fact that there were plenty of black girls learning how to code, but not plenty of black women teaching them. I remember that we had two white women, one Asian woman, three white men, and two black women volunteering total. So I guess it's great that the internet community is so intent on over analyzing everything, but I'm pretty sure all of us would like to be able to teach any child how to code. However, Black Girls Code is clearly better at marketing themselves than all the other groups that I've never heard of.




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