The emphasis here is on racism, but there's a ton of casual sexism -- and I'd be surprised if ageism wasn't present, too.
This is, at best, a company where HR have taken their eye off the ball. More likely, there are serious institutional failings (and probable harrassment lawsuits coming down the pipe in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... if they don't do something about the corporate culture fast).
Note: this is me trying to stay dispassionate and non-angry. If I was the author of this piece I'd be incandescent. Props to him for staying calm and documenting this stuff rather than simply walking out. Or exploding.
I couldn't even make it to the end, I think I just managed to read 80% of the whole piece, I'm pretty, pretty f.ing mad, and I've never even been to the States.
A little OT: And while we're on this, I guess this is a moment as good as any to get it off my chest, that is to say that nasty s.it like this happens not only in the States, but here in (Eastern) Europe, too.
I work in a small company, I'm IT, and around last week or so one of my (female, white) colleagues just out of the blue proffered somth. like "I'd kill all the gipsies, they're not human". I (white male, early 30s) at first tried to take it easy, made a little fun of her, to see if she was serious (she was), and then 10-15 minutes later I confronted her directly. The part that did it for me, at which even now, when I'm remembering the whole thing, makes me angry, it's the "they're not human" part. She is a really nice person otherwise, happily married, no children yet, but yet she said that nasty phrase as the most natural thing ever.
The one time I applied this, it netted me a rather sincere apology half an hour later, so I guess it has some merit in at least some of the situations.
(note that I was not in the group being discriminated against, I don't think it'd be a good approach if I were)
I ask if that’s the word he used verbatim, and Mike says yes. I say if he wants to say that to me I’ll take that comment and all the rest to HR because I’ve been documenting everything racist he’s said, and Mike nods and says “yeah” and “ok” like he understands or like he cares.
And the "HR Dept" could be just 1-2 people.
Also, at some point after this conversation took place, one of the women looked at my prized necklace and said “Hey, that looks like a calculator, is that a calculator?”
I said “um no, it’s a necklace, it’s African, from Nairobi.”
And she replies “Oh, huh…..well, it looks like a calculator.”
If this is an accurate recollection, the author is a seriously disturbed person who should not be in this or any other workplace. If this is not an accurate recollection... I'm not sure the conclusion is any different.
Certainly there are workplace shootings where the perpetrator appears to have a very similar attitude - the Omar Thornton case, for instance:
Kixeye is obviously a company with a corporate culture in which people vigorously insult each other in a typical young male style. A similar institution is the US military - at least at the enlisted level. Race relations in the military are and always have been excellent, so perhaps the hypothesis that coarse humor is the cause of racial hostility could use a little more exploring.
I wouldn't want to work at a company like Kixeye, though. It's obviously an even worse fit for the OP. And that's not even to mention that this kind of office culture is actually illegal in our great nation, land of the free and home of the brave. This is irresponsible toward the investors, at least...
So you're saying that an overly defensive reaction to someone misunderstanding a fashion object means he's likely to shoot the place up? That a guy gets systematically discriminated against at the workplace, and you're worried he's too angry about it? And that he might get violent about it because one single other person one time did? And that the U.S. military, which features numerous official directives against racial discrimination, is an aptly analogous institution?
"Whiteness" is defined in contrast to a person's blackness. You can't talk about racism against whites without first acknowledging a previous racism by whites.
Are you sarcastically implying that this kind of office culture should be legal in a civilized society?
Reading this made me so angry... If I were a juror, I wouldn't convict the author for murdering the people in this post.
Edited to add: No actual murder has happened, nor should any actual murder happen. This was an overstatement meant to reflect outrage at injustice.
I think this company is not such a great place to work... if you are black. Having mentioned that... uh... MURDER???
We should try to keep in mind that this company really may be no worse than the average SF company full of people accustomed to getting their own way. Oftentimes, people just don't know they are being offensive. It is not malice, so much as the obliviousness that accompanies any privilege. These people DO NOT deserve to die. I personally don't think anyone does.
People have a right to be disappointed here, but really, let's try to elevate the tone.
As I stated earlier, I was being hyperbolic. I had a strong emotional response to the article and I made a joke about it. I did not mean to debase the quality of the conversation here and I regret the callous way I expressed what I said.
* A black coworker is singled out by another (non-black) coworker with "watch out for that guy, he’s trouble, he talks a lot of shit"
* Referring to a latino coworker, that same coworker suggests jokes: "Like ‘you’re a mexican whore’ or like ‘your mother’s a Mexican whore?"
* The black coworker is given a dictionary and told "I got this for you cause I know you speak ebonics."
* The latino coworker is then told "I would have gotten you one too but they didn’t have wetback to english"
* The author, who is black, is then told "Hey he’s dressed like Run DMC, does he know how to rap?" (The author is wearing a Pitchfork Media-compatible outfit including skinny jeans and a long-sleeved print t-shirt)
* The black coworker later informs the author that "Steve wanted me to let you know that we’re dressing too thuggish in the office and we need to dress in a way that reflects the company better". "Steve" is the previously-mentioned white guy, and also apparently a manager.
* After telling that coworker that he is considering telling HR about racism in his group, "Steve" takes him aside for a 1-1 meeting. The author is informed that any attire is acceptable except for baggy jeans. After hearing the author's complaints, "Steve" says, "Whoa whoa whoa, those comments you’re hearing aren’t racist; they’re jokes", and then "The problem is that you’re too sensitive. You need to check all that at the door before you come here to work", and finally "We don’t even tolerate people brining up concerns of racism here.".
* Later, a women asks whether the pendant the author is wearing, which is from Nairobi, is "a calculator".
* "Steve" later informs the author, "it’s ok to make jokes about slavery because that’s over". Then, "Also, you should be grateful that your ancestors went through slavery."
Peppered throughout the post are cultural signs and signifiers that mark the author as an advocate for a fairly specific set of political and social beliefs. A reader could be excused for having concerns that the author was not an objective witness. On the other hand, those signifiers are so obvious that you could also question whether someone who had set out to unfairly tar the company would put them into the post.
Apart from the comment about the pendant, any one of the comments listed above would be a firing offense here.
-- too typical a response
"Peppered throughout the post are cultural signs and signifiers that mark the author as an advocate for a fairly specific set of political and social beliefs."
-- completely irrelevant to assessing the facts of the case
As a white male, I'm very disappointed by how many in the HN community have responded to this story. The victim- and let me emphasize, this individual is a victim- has every right to feel and express any number of hostile feelings toward the perps involved and, furthermore, has the right to express his frustration at how racist behavior was openly exhibited in front of so many employees, with no consequences whatsoever. In fact, you have to wonder why none of his white colleagues stood up and objected to some of the more colorful remarks made in the presence of others. Is it really that difficult to understand why he might perceive all the whites in his office as a$$holes? His story isn't merely an indictment of a few managers, but of a culture (and yes, a white culture) that absolutely tolerated racism both at an individual and collective level. These incidents didn't only occur behind a closed door. Is or was this culture present in only one SF company?
After what this individual was subjected to, you have to be incredibly small minded to feel offended by the fact that his language reveals frustration or antagonism toward whites.
By the way, I've also seen racism exhibited toward Asian immigrants- not the rockstar programmers matriculated in the US- but recent immigrants holding lower level positions. Let's not pretend that racism doesn't exist in SF by brushing off depictions of racism as a consequence of intrinsic racism on the part of the accuser.
You get the same answers when you debate women's issues. And I have no doubt any other minority's issues, too. It's so common there's even a bingo card for it: http://tumblinfeminist.tumblr.com/post/12171070300/notasking...
> This tendency reaches its most florid manifestation in the "ideological bingo games". See for example "Skeptical Sexist Bingo", feminist bingo, libertarian troll bingo, anti-Zionist bingo, pro-Zionist bingo, and so on. If you Google for these you can find thousands, which is too bad because every single person who makes one of these is going to Hell.
If you find yourself saying "I'm not racist but..." you shouldn't be trying to justify yourself and come up with reasons why the other person should hear you out. You should immediately stop and think about what you're saying, because chances are that you are a bigot, and all the argument in the world isn't going to change that.
The existence of those sorts of bingo cards is because these arguments come up over and over again. It's a useful tool to help deal with bigots.
When you say "chances are you are a bigot" you may technically be correct in the sense that from a random population of "I'm not a racist but" statements, more than 50% of them are said by bigots (in fact, I would probably estimate this much higher, as bigots say it more frequently, in my experience). As for my-literal-self, and almost everyone who is reading these comments (well educated, left-leaning startup enthusiasts), I have significant other evidence that I have to weigh against that proposition (i.e. my recollection of my lifetime's past events and explicit knowledge of my views and beliefs), so if I were ever inclined to use such a phrase I wouldn't actually be making a bigoted statement. Unfortunately, some people who are less thoughtful and less capable of a nuanced understanding of argumentation would immediately turn off their brains and assume whatever this counterfactual self said next was bigoted. People like that have bad rhetorical hygiene and arguing with them should be avoided if you don't want to contract memetically transmitted diseases.
Saying that bingo cards are a "useful tool" is doing a disservice to the word tool. They are, if not actively harmful, merely a form of entertainment, and no more a tool than Star Trek VI.
No it's not. It doesn't follow anything through to a conclusion, it just berates people who attack strawmen, or who dismiss others' arguments out of hand, whether that dismissal is warranted or not.
Just taking the "I'm not racist but.." argument on that post: are you really saying that there is no other way to phrase your argument? It's guaranteed to cause a reaction in everybody with an opinion on the issue and it's somehow their fault for not giving your argument proper attention or missing a nuance somewhere?
And then you complain about bad rhetorical hygiene. State your case in a way that your audience can understand and engage with it, and you'll get a better response.
So yes, the existance of bingo cards helps back up the claim that this is "classic derailment".
However, in the vast majority of conversations about topics like this, the debate is not intelligent. The same old tied tropes and clichés come out. Many different people have commented "But he's racist too!" (on a recent post about gender at a tech conference many people dismissed the author for being angry).
Because only stupid people are sexist and racist. We are smart, ergo, we cannot be sexist or racist.
But really, it's relatively easy to find people who know a lot of things and can work through deep logic. "Big-picture" judgment and perspective is a lot harder to come by.
I've always believed the correct response to racism is to educate. Educate his coworkers on the origin and significance of his necklace and why they shouldn't equate the way he dresses with being a thug. And in this case, where it is systemic and tolerated, appeal to a higher authority such as HR and the court system.
You may have also missed this line: After years of arguments with white men (and white women), watching white men (and white women) move away from me when I start to talk about oppression (i.e. what life as a poor black queer is like), I know when to pick and chose my battles
Can you not see just how exhausting it would be to have to constantly explain and justify yourself?
I also said that in this case, where it was systemic and tolerated, he made the right decision to escalate it to HR and the court system who actually have the power to do something about it.
This guy did the right thing : stand up and talk. Obviously he cares more about telling "the world" than being patted on the shoulder. In other words, he somewhat did it the "black panthers" way, and as much as I like Martin Luther King and gandi, i don't believe you gain rights without fighting. For real.
Why that reaction of mine ? Cause it remembers me an episode of my youth, when i xas living with my Commando father (yeah, like your marines) in africa, and was the only white guy who stood up for a Malgache girl who was being bashed by a bunch of white guys, everyday on our way to school. I got beaten in front of the whole bus for about 15 minutes by the bunch of white racists guys. The driver, a black guy from Cameroon came to me the next day, and told me that he was glad i had to loose some teeth, because otherwise he would have lost his job.
It's not the job of members of minority groups to educate members of majority groups on their culture. People who aren't members of minority cultures should make an effort to self-educate and work against the grain of systemic discrimination.
I agree it's not his job to educate, and he shouldn't have to. But in reality, most racists are not going to educate themselves. If they did, they probably wouldn't be racists. So if he actually wants to see a positive change and stop Steve from making racist comments, his best bet is to try and educate Steve himself.
HHAHAHA WHAT THE FUCK AM I READING?
There's another definition, which is talk that's designed to maintain & reinforce the institutionalised power structure among races. Right now, if modern USA life was a video game, "white male" would be an easier difficulty level than "black male". There are statistically less problems for the "white male" group. Racist talk is talk that re-enforced that imbalance. This definition is harder for some people to accept because it means that you need to look at yourself and think about what power imbalances you might be benefiting from, and it means you can't just do s/white/black/g and make it just as racist.
So no, it's more racist to say "dumbblack" than "dumbwhite"
I am one of the readers who had deep concern for the truthfulness of these observations. If they are true, then he got screwed, royally, and should sue.
Except for the pendant comment. That's just a case of taking yourself too seriously. Yet another nail in the coffin of his credibility.
Finally, you have to wonder, how much of abuse the employer had to dish out to turn (judging from the picture) an apolitical gamer-hipster-nerd into an anti-colonial radical. I don't want to make this story about me, but as a secular
Jew who immigrated from former USSR as a teen, I can say that experiencing racism firsthand tends to change your perspective.
If I were his editor, I'd tell him to separate the, "Dumb white hipsters being ignorant", stuff from the, "Creating a hostile working environment", part of his story. As it is, it's mixed in and undermines the seriousness of the legitimately awful treatment he was subjected to.
What nails? You're treating his every statement as suspect by default based on the racial, sexual and political stereotype you are projecting onto him. Judging by the admittedly superficial evidence of your post history, you are a Randian libertarian with a stereotypical dislike of women and racial minorities who claim victimhood. You must be used to people automatically classifying you by a stereotype and refusing to engage with you. If only in that respect, you're exactly like him and others whose arguments you reject offhand.
Elsewhere in this thread you explain that your skepticism is based on personal experiences. Many people reading that will assume you're lying or that your view of what happened was warped. How does that make you feel? Like a victim of stereotyping? You may even write off those people as dumb liberal motherfuckers.
The burden of proof for accusations of this nature (or any serious nature) should always be on the accuser, not the accused.
I like to use HL Mencken as inspiration.
Look at California's renter protections. They go way, way beyond reason in dragging out an eviction process. As a result, people who would otherwise rent out properties do not, or do so at a much higher price to ensure that only high income people move into said properties. By protecting the poor people from landlord abuses, the result is that decent poor people who pay rent are punished by the indecent poor people who abuse the system and take advantage of squatter rights. Protections always, always come with a cost, hidden or not. I don't think (like Randians do) that this cost should ALWAYS be avoided and we should all go the path of John Galt fantasy land. I just think that too often, ivory tower liberals (by this I mean people who don't work in the private sector and confine themselves to academic and gov't advisory roles) don't see the costs of the protections they chase after, or don't consult with industry to find out what they truly are.
I will be voting for Obama this November. You know, because I hate minorities and women's rights and I worship Ayn Rand.
To make my point, I was jumping to conclusions based on flimsy evidence.
> You know, because I hate minorities and women's rights and I worship Ayn Rand.
I don't believe you do any of those things. But I do believe you unfairly prejudged him on insufficient information and that someone doing the same in reverse would come to those sorts of conclusions about you.
Please understand that the anger such treatment (validly) brings about is incredibly hard to suppress.
In that situation it's really hard to walk the line between expressing your emotions in such a way that it evokes similar emotions in others and not expressing so much anger that you will be classified as just bitter and vindictive.
And also, why should it be suppressed? Integration doesn't work if both parties pretend to be nice but are prepared to find a more underhanded way to stab each other in the back once the negotiations have ended.
I suspect we're both right for different reasons under different circumstances, and it would be fascinating to actually go through the histories and anthropologies to understand what those reasons and circumstances might be.
People often seem to think that only STEM degrees teach real skills, but humanities and social sciences teach you to think critically about culture and society, and even though nobody's ever going to pay me to do that, I'd like to think the world's a better place for every person who's had their eyes opened a little bit. The disadvantage of course is that then afterwards, culture and society horrify you at every turn for the rest of your life.
This is getting silly.
So because he's upset that his pendant was mocked (in what sounds like a pretty assy way), he isn't credible?
What were the other nails?
Naturally, she gets her head bitten off for being a racist...
Progressive white people too frequently have a fear of saying the wrong thing because they're insecure with their racial views. Read more, gain perspective, learn how much you don't know about the experience of minorities, and then approach conversations with people of color with a deferential attitude.
Maybe that's too much work, but it's the price of tending to a multicultural society that is growing out of the ashes of a monocultural one and I think it's worth it.
But I'm speaking from personal experience.
Yeah, you've really got to watch out for "progressive blacks" like me, we're trouble.
FYI, I grew up and still live in the southern US, where race relations are an acknowledged problem, and where social protocols and culture are still more distinct across races than they are within them. And I'm already somewhat bad in general with social protocols.
So I'm not saying white people shouldn't talk to black people. I'm saying that, unfortunately,white people do feel uncomfortable talking to them sometimes, or at least, the bar is higher for meaningful social interaction. I think that's a shame, and unfortunately I don't know what to do about it.
But I do know that accusing white people of racism for clearly non-racist behavior, as with the calculator-necklace incident, is counterproductive, and (for me) reinforces needlessly distressful things I've experienced. That's what I was trying to get at with my earlier comment.
-- 6 hours later --
> So I'm not saying white people shouldn't talk to black people
Surely you can forgive _pius for assuming you meant what you said.
The basic principle here is, do not talk to "progressive" black people, because you are likely to say something innocuous that they interpret as highly offensive. That is the message being sent here.
As I clarified in my last post, my point was that it is regrettable that the blogger "sent the message" he did.
By the way, when you talk about me forgiving _pius, you are obfuscating who is blaming who. I am on the receiving end of blame, not the giving end.
Because if not, "don't talk to progressive blacks" is the message you took away not the one he sent.
> I am on the receiving end of blame, not the giving end.
Oh, for real? Who blamed you for what?
Going back and re-reading your previous post:
> But I do know that accusing white people of racism for clearly non-racist behavior,
It may be non-racist, but it's still culturally tone-deaf.
> as with the calculator-necklace incident, is counterproductive, and (for me) reinforces needlessly distressful things I've experienced.
Oh, weird, because the "calculator-necklace incident" probably reinforced some needlessly distressful (racist, dehumanizing, othering, outgroup-reinforcing) things for the author. Why should he make your distress a priority when you care none for his?
No, I did not say that. I don't think he was sending that message deliberately. (As an aside, the message wasn't "don't talk to me.)
You and _pius are clearly accusing me of racial insensitivity.
I mean, I do think the "message" I claimed was being sent was stated overbroadly by me. But, for example, I definitely would not ever talk to a black person about their clothes if they were not wearing clothing I was familiar with, out of fear that they would be offended - even by a compliment. Even if I said something like, "That outfit looks really good on you," they'd like take my social awkwardness as a sign that I was somehow making fun of them (which I would never do). Or they'd consider me incapable of rendering a judgement about a style of fashion that I'm not familiar wth, and just be insulted.
Why should he make your distress a priority when you care none for his?
I never said that. In fact, if I didn't care about race relations and want them to be better, I wouldn't have commented in the first place. And I care about race relations because I care about people. I don't want anybody to be distressed.
needlessly distressful (racist, dehumanizing, othering, outgroup-reinforcing) things for the author
If you think the calculator incident was racist or dehumanizing, as described, then I can see why you would think I don't care about that guy's distress. But it was not racist or dehumanizing. It may have made the author feel like part of an "outgroup" as you say, but that was not intentional. At least as I recall the incident being described in the post. It was just some really naive person who made a mistake. I thought that was obvious from the description. And you may disagree with this, but if it was just a naive person who made a mistake about what the guy was wearing, it was not racism.
I'm not sure if I want to continue this discussion, but I will read any response and may or may not respond.
I don't have a problem with racist/sexist jokes. I do however have a sever issue with healthcare and quality of education being tied to your parents employment and property ownership. I think that is much, much more terrible, as it not only screws over the poor in general, but in particular it really fucks over black people/hispanics/immigrants specifically simply because they are on average much poorer.
I guess I'm just really upset over the huge fuss people make over the word nigger. It's an incredibly powerful word that taints anything it touches, and because of its association it becomes particularly hard for people in general to understand that the most racist things don't target the race of anyone, just their income level.
So, yes, I think the author did go through some stupid shit because his coworkers are assholes. However, they probably aren't racist. They look down on most of society.
This is basically a denial that actual racism is a serious problem. I think that's worse than saying the n-word a thousand times.
Even if Obamacare gives every black person free health insurance and also a pony, that's not going to make even a tiny dent in the racism that pervades our society, and saying that it will is just spreading ignorance (imo).
EDIT: Not that I'm saying our country's health care issues aren't totally messed up! Just that that's a different problem.
This is from Wikipedia on demographics of the poor in the USA:
The US Census declared that in 2010 15.1% of the general population lived in poverty:
9.9% of all non-Hispanic white persons
12.1% of all Asian persons
26.6% of all Hispanic persons (of any race)
27.4% of all black persons.
Looks pretty bad for hispanics/black people, right?
Except it doesn't have the population breakdown...
White Americans (non-Hispanic/Latino and Hispanic/Latino) are the racial majority, with an 72% share of the U.S. population, per 2010 US Census. Hispanic and Latino Americans compose 15% of the population, making up the largest ethnic minority. Black Americans are the largest racial minority, composing nearly 13% of the population.
so here are some facts:
.72 * 308 mil * .099 = 21.95 million white people
.15 * 308 mil * .266 = 12.28 million hispanic people
.12 * 308 mil * .274 = 10.97 million black people
Basically, what I'm trying to say is this: poor people get fucked in this country. They really do. When it happens to black people/hispanics, stupid hippies love to claim it's racism. Maybe, maybe it is a bit. But I don't think so. I think that poor people get fucked in this country with no social welfare net, poor infrastructure, and by making it illegal to take your kid to the rich public school.
A lot of black people and hispanics have pretty terrible options in life, but goddamn it, it's not racism. It's not white frat kids saying nigger. It's that they are poor. And there are a lot of white people in the same boat.
Racism is the false flag of socioeconomic problems in society.
Racism is the false flag of socioeconomic problems in society.
Racism is not just about the dollars in your hip pocket. Read the article - nowhere in it is he complaining about his pay.
Unless I misunderstand you, that's part of reality. Healthcare and education don't fall from the sky. Somebody has to produce them. In order for them to be consumed, they have to either be paid for, or stolen.
the most racist things don't target the race of anyone, just their income level
Racism has a specific definition, and "targeting" someone based on income doesn't meet it (though I don't know what "targeting" means here).
Did you know that in other countries healthcare is free? And top quality education? And college?
We could have it to, if all you shits didn't incorporate in Delaware. Goddamn this country.
In no place anywhere on earth are those things free. Someone pays for them, always. Maybe the government should pay for them here (leaving aside the fact that our government already pays an enormous amount for healthcare and education), but it's not an obvious, incontrovertible fact that we should, to the point that justifies name-calling. Many top economists don't think those things should be subsidized by the government, regardless of how good they may sound to the electorate.
Also, you seem to be under the impression that incorporating in Delaware is some kind of tax dodge; it's not. It won't save you a single penny in taxes. You still have to pay taxes on income in the state in which you generate that income, and you still have to pay federal taxes no matter where you are in the world.
Well maybe I would have looked at it differently if it wasn't for OP's blogpost but still cheesy.
I think you read that wrong. The black coworker (Mike) said that in reference to Steve not the other way around.
Given that, do you think the black coworker should be fired for saying that about Steve? Is it okay for the Mike to say that about Steve but not the other way around, regardless of how true it is?
Also, I am not sure why I have to include this disclaimer but I am not condoning any of the racism observed in the article.
For whatever it's worth to you to know this: being considered thuggish, or violent, or hotheaded, or unreasonable is a hot-button issue for working black professionals. I've had neighbors complain to me that they can't disagree or argue with anything at their office, because as soon as they do, their coworkers start shaking their heads and signaling "there goes the black guy again". Knowing this, you start to see that it is also a privilege to be able to argue, even vehemently, without inadvertently confirming a malignant stereotype about your heritage or upbringing.
Either way one reads that particular point though, I agree that it isn't the most compelling in the story.
"You start to see that it is also a privilege to be able to argue, even vehemently, without inadvertently confirming a malignant stereotype about your heritage or upbringing."
Very well said. Thanks for articulating this idea. Don't forget that this goes both ways, though.
As a straight white male that grew up in a very progressive college town, with almost all of my friends being progressive socially liberal graduates, I am constantly "educated" on my privilege and dismissed, ala "there goes that (straight) white guy again with his white privilege and lack of understanding", simply for attempting civilized discourse that is anything but blindly supportive of their social and racial views.
I have to question a sociopolitical philosophy that leaves a lot of its followers avoiding dialogue with and dismissing the people who are most likely the closest to sharing their concerns and ideals.
What I'm trying to convey here is that not much attention is paid, particularly by those who otherwise like talking about privilege as a concept, to the privilege of being able to argue. As I believe civilized discourse is a bedrock of our society, this concerns me. "And it should concern you too!"
The thing to remember is that the author is not promoting a manifesto or calling to action, he's venting. He's frustrated, and he's not creating a culture of oppression with the occasional use of 'dumbwhite' - some commentors in this thread seem to think that this private use of the word in an anonymised article makes it as bad as creating a culture of bigotry in the workplace. Racism isn't a binary on/off.
It seems "and Mike says" is pretty clear, especially with the followup about it being true, illustrated with incidents involving the guy who "talks a lot of shit".
In part that is an ironic consequence of privlege: understanding it can lead to giving it up.
The word has become a "PC" signifier technical "term of art, and not often patiently and respectfully explained to people who need to understand it.
It's akin to calling someone 'white trash'.
I do believe these arguments being forwarded are deliberately obtuse: whenever an argument is proposed without anticipating and responding to the most obvious challenges, and the person appears to be otherwise possessed of significant intellect, I conclude that the banality is intentional.
You got this one backwards. It's another black coworker warning the author that "Steve" talks a lot of shit.
Yeah, everything else there is pretty awful, and Steve should have been fired for it.
I kind of wondered why he mentioned that he was going to to talk to HR, but then didn't. It seems like the appropriate response it to talk to Steve's manager, then HR, then take legal action if the first two were not fruitful.
> Going back to the matter at hand, Steve then proceeds to do what white men always can’t help but do: “educate.”
Not all white men can't help but educate. There's a line between banter and offense. I would never want anyone in my team to be offended and I tend to try to (mostly) stay on the side of caution on the banter front mainly because my job is to make it as easy as possible for people to do theirs. I did feel from the photos that the author's attire was not appropriate for the offices we work in (but might be fine for his), but find comparisons to Run DMC much more inappropriate. For one, if I was a member of Run DMC I would greatly protest against the style of the author's dress sense, but then again I grew up in the 80s, the decade that fashion forgot.
At the end of the article, it's clear there are no winners, only losers. It's good that the author is no longer there because he doesn't have to deal with idiots like that. Life's too short to have to put up with any form of crap in an environment that doesn't suit you, regardless of the reasons. It's also good for the idiots working there that he's no longer there either because frankly they lack the maturity in their environment (even if they have it individually) to cope with having someone that doesn't fit their world view there. Racism in the workplace is unacceptable but it does happen. The trick is to deal with it sensitively and objectively while making sure that people understand that they're wrong, why they're wrong and what they need to do to be right. If they screw up with it repeatedly, then maybe they need to find a new job.
 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RovF1zsDoeM
You make it seem so nice when you say "the author as an advocate for a fairly specific set of political and social beliefs." But let's be honest, the author is a racist. I get his frustration. But his remarks make it clear he dislikes all white people. The entire "dumbwhite*" stuff, the white supremacy comment, the white men feeling they have authority, etc., are all examples of a negative feelings held against white people simply because they are white. This is racism.
It can't be okay for him to be racist in response to the racism he was experiencing. If we're being asked to not accept one form of racism, then we have to not accept any form of racism.
This is another form of white privilege, white people weighing in on what is and isn't racism. White people are the people least qualified to talk about this. Most white people are completely blind to racism except in the most egregious cases. (Spoiler: those are among the least common.)
And let's face it: white people are, by far, the ones who dole it out most often and virulently, the minute they feel threatened by a "thug" (a black man who is either arguing passionately or wearing baggy pants).
All in all, I'm willing to cut this guy more than a little slack! He probably got a more thorough education about the politics and dynamics of race in the first N years of his life as a black male than most white people get in a lifetime.
It's not white privilege to be able to weigh in on what is and isn't racism. It's the privilege of every person, regardless of race, to have an opinion.
Do you have evidence to support your claim? Are you talking about pure numbers or per capita? Are you limiting your numbers to a specific country? Do not use numbers as an argument unless you have actual numbers to back up your argument.
Him being a racist doesn't mean the white people he was interacting with weren't racists too. I'm just saying that it becomes a factor in his credibility, because he makes it obvious that he did not remain impartial while working there.
And, again, if you're going to tell me that racism is bad, you can't do it while being a racist yourself. Well, I suppose you can, anyone has the right to say what they want, but you have to at least acknowledge the hypocrisy.
He wisely documented all the abusive incidents. He doesn't need to "recall" anything.
You know, it occurs to me that it's kinda sad that "firing offense" is the highest degree of punishment we have available to inflict. It's our proxy for social exile, but it's not actually social exile. That doesn't seem enough, but jailing and fining don't seem to fit either.
Protecting free speech is important. However most people probably agree there should be a line drawn (for example I doubt anyone would object to a group like the KKK being banned). The problem is enforcing that line fairly and not punishing people for speech that should be allowed is too difficult.
It's an interesting and important problem and becoming more so now that everyone has the means of reaching an audience online.
Gaiman has talked about this quite well: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/12/why-defend-freedom-of-... The quotable is "The Law is a blunt instrument. It's not a scalpel. It's a club. If there is something you consider indefensible, and there is something you consider defensible, and the same laws can take them both out, you are going to find yourself defending the indefensible."
This precedent stood until Brandenburg v. Ohio when suddenly the Supreme Court reversed itself in order to stop the KKK from being outlawed, deciding that it was now suddenly really important for violent rhetoric to have full First Amendment protection. The KKK was actually much further over the line than the precedent-setting groups - they backed up their talk with a long and bloody history of actual violence and murder against black people. In fact some of the speech that the Supreme Court ruled was protected, such as cross-burning, was actually created as a warning to any black residents that they'd be next if they didn't leave town. Somehow the justices cared more about protecting this than they did about protecting actual, political statements that challenged the status quo.
The Wikipedia entry for cross burning indicates that it has been handled negatively in the last five years–that is, the act of cross burning was not protected as speech–and makes no mention of Brandenburg v. Ohio. That Wikipedia entry does not indicate that cross burning was a significant question at stake in the case, since the matter being decided was the constitutionality of the Ohio statute.
Admittedly, that's just a reading of Wikipedia and I have no training in law of any kind, but it doesn't seem as provocative as you put it.
Well, the ACLU would. And has. And for good reason.
There is no right not to have your feelings hurt.
(NB for people hopping here without context: that last sentence is not meant to talk about OP)
This is one of the advantages of having a written constitution. You can't just do things on a whim that violate basic principles of the country, since they're clearly codified in writing.
As for doing things on a whim that violate basic principles of the country, when it comes to constitutionally-mandated protections against unreasonable search and seizure, I'd rather go through UK airport security than US. Then there's oddities like 'free speech zones', where you can say what you like, but only where you're told to. The second amendment is hardly 'clearly codified' - it's highly ambiguous, yet has such significant impact on US society.
The US consitution has some great stuff in it and was a watershed document, but it's not a magical shield simply because it's written down on a document named 'constitution'.
Moreover, the UK would then get a lot of shit overseas, particularly in America, for being an example of how European-style socialism leads to a lack of civil liberties, and that might put pressure on the British to actually codify that right.
Disclaimer: This has nothing to do with his lyrical abilities.
You may disagree with his fashion sense, but this man is smartly dressed. I don't see any Raiders jackets, or any baggy jeans/tee-shirts. Just because his clothing is not mainstream and he is black DOES NOT make it hip-hop fashion.
While we're on the topic, note the shoes in particular, very nice, especially for a guy struggling to afford a bedroom in Oakland.
Hey, I can do that too. Is this the image your memory conjures up when you think of Dre?
Would that be a firing offense, too? I'm sure it would be - I'm just asking to make sure.
What's disturbing to me is not that an obviously talented young person like the OP has these kinds of issues. He'll almost certainly grow out of them.
It's that so many older, wiser people, who obviously don't have personal problems of their own, seem intent on encouraging this way of thinking. Just because you think you're doing good, doesn't mean you actually are.
This is the strangest part of your claims. I don't see anything indicating that he's a remotely competent worker. Admittedly, I haven't researched who he is, but the only credibility he's got is that he can set up a Tumblr and add pictures to his post. I am not impressed at his technical skill–or his grammar, spelling, diction, or eloquence–indeed nothing about him says he's worth my time except that he's human and hurting.
If anything, this offhand remark of yours serves to undermine your credibility to me.
"then proceeds to do what black men always can’t help but do"
"black men always telling which way is up because they feel they are the “authority” when it comes to any and everything, most often when they don’t know shit about shit"
" I know when black people start to speak down to me from their pedatsol which is white privilege, they aren’t listening, nor will they"
"I cannot afford to take black people’s shit anymore."
Those are all quotes from the article, except I put 'black' where the author put 'white', both sets are clearly an unacceptable way to speak. While I am sure this guy has faced real disadvantage from some bigoted people, this post is laced with racism against white people and ridiculously over-the-top statements about colonialism and "neoliberal white supremacy".
I can't think of a time that I faced the level of ugliness laid out in this story even once in my 32 years, so the last thing that occurs to me when I read something like this is "Wow, the author is saying some completely unacceptably racist things"
[EDIT: Shit. I'm 34, not 32 or even 33. I have no idea why I can't keep that straight.]
I've been around these kind of complaints in person, and while I know that the injustices taking place are horrible and uncalled for, I also know that the complainer is also (not-so-subtly any more) racist as well. Perhaps he wasn't before he entered the school system or the workforce (not necessarily this job), but saying things like dumbwhite*, bringing up colonization like slavery as property is taking place in his neighbourhood (he's going through legal to get this solved, something slaves could never do), and repeatedly bringing up that his tormentors are white, male, rich, etc. just shows that he's brought his own racist viewpoints to the table.
This reminds me of the atmosphere in South Africa years after apartheid was rescinded. The atmosphere, not the gruesome crimes. Perhaps it can be justified, but it sure wasn't how MLK Jr. or Mandela (at least after he became president) attacked the problem and it's only good for outrage, not getting anything done.
White guilt isn't going to help solve racism, but I agree that the author deserves some justice.
It's the really horrible bit that deserves focus.
Are you looking to round out the racism discussion derail bingo card, or just completely clueless?
It doesn't help that a lot of the language of power dynamics was co-opted by the self-help community, which can often be legitimately criticized in these ways.
Pointing out an ugly tone does not mean you think it invalidates the argument.
"Yes, you're angry but instead of talking about why you're angry let's talk about how the way you expressed your anger is inappropriate".
Its an inappropriate topic change, directing blame at the author when it's really not warranted.
As a minority, it is really, really hard to change or rectify the corruption of the majority by trying to fight them head-on. These sort of revolutions worked when the majority of the people overthrew a corrupt minority that had excessive power. However, thinking things over, I'm not sure if the author is even really out to solve the large racial issue in general with this post. I don't think that was his point, so maybe I'm offering suggestions to a goal that he never had in the first place. If this, like most tumblr posts, is just to get it out in writing so he can think clearly and draw attention by the public to the situation, then yes, it works.
While I agree that the saintly thing to is respond without bringing up your persecutors' race, I am pretty sympathetic to people who have been the victims of overt racism seeing some things in terms of race. They've had their faces rubbed in it.
And I'm sorry to come down hard on you, but it's pretty arrogant to tell someone who is still suffering the consequences of being harassed because of his race not to take notice of the race of the people harassing him.
Sincerity and respect for a person's race does not take a backseat just because someone made racist remarks to someone else. I've been the victim of racist remarks and I'm white, that doesn't make it okay for me to refer to the other person by their race. In fact, it makes it WORSE.
Being tolerant of ANYONE using racism for ANY reason is not okay.
EDIT: The more I read your comment, the more it looks like you support racism as a means of retaliation to racism. This is why racism still (and always) exists.
> makes his complete argument null and void
No, actually it doesn't. That's really not how logic works.
This is an audience problem. This post was pretty clearly not meant to be an intellectual tour de force; it was a rant, and a step away from frothing at the mouth. The author doesn't claim to be perfect, nor is he. For an audience like HN, it's completely inappropriate, because it doesn't take into account our biases and worldviews; but I seriously doubt he expected to be on the HN front page.
Edit: Also legal action? Im sure his use of "dumbwhite motherfucker" in court will go over very well. Come on...
Oh hey, it's the rare explicitly stated ad hominem attack.
(Not that that's any better.)
So racial epithets are OK as long as you're targeting a group of people who have wronged you? Got it.
Not that it in any way legitimizes the vile things that were said to the man.
So long as you're talking about a group of people who have systemic, institutionalized power over you based on the colour of their own skin? Damn right they're OK. I hate to break it to you, but it's pretty much only white people that think race is no big deal. People of colour tend to get disabused of that foolish idea pretty damn quickly by reality. See for instance http://www.womanist-musings.com/2012/02/anti-racist-billboar...
It unnecessarily adds doubt to the claims being made. If your narrator has an agenda it becomes difficult to trust that narrator.
The pattern is:
Apply standard of neutrality to poster, and find poster wanting - hence remain skeptical to keep an open mind.
"there could be a misunderstanding."
The promulgator and supporters are always people who are at best well meaning, but generally oblivious to privilege or its manifestations.
This will be pointed out, and the promulgator will point out how they have done X or are friends with Y in defence.
So first off - you aren't being targeted. The promulgator is acting rationally based on his experiences.
The best examples to counter this were an AMA from a guy who had a sex change operation. He then could clarify what Male privilege is, and how you would be completely oblivious to it until its gone.
It turns down as a woman a simple thing like walking down a road changes in a manner drastically different from what men are used to.
Similarly there was an AMA from a girl who used to look good, and then lost that advantage. All of a sudden she saw privileges she assumed were just normal things - disappear.
It turns out that men don't normally open doors for you, or are helpful.
Unfortunately when you react with outrage, most people have no idea what you are talking about and respond with:
"It unnecessarily adds doubt to the claims being made"
• We see a stranger (call them the victim) on the internet making strong, negative claims against a set of people who are also strangers.
• We often only have the victim's word to judge these claims by.
• Therefore, there will often be debate about these words (which we can talk about with certainty) instead of the claims made (which we only know about second-hand.)
Starting from this perspective seems to lead to really, really degenerate conversation. It tends to be worst when talking about rape or sexual harassment charges.
(There's sometimes an additional weird layer where commenters think the original victim shouldn't make claims they can't prove to third parties, regardless of the truth of those claims.)
Other wise its always a death spiral at worst or a holding pattern on average.
I think yours is a larger general case - and I am trying to invoke perhaps a child case with the addition of privilege blindness.
What is tragic that this is a perfect example of good intentions that lead to terrible results.
In brief, saying "X is wrong, because X subscribes to ideology I" is not a logically valid argument. Willing to hear X's argument and consider it on its own merits does not grant legitimacy to I.
The narrator's argument isn't "white people are colonizers, so...", he merely enumerates what he has experienced. That phrasing is unfortunate (but pales in comparison to being told far more offensive things _at work_) it doesn't detract from (or add to) his argument, i.e., it's an irrelevant detail.
There's a time to vent and a time to make a case. I personally feel that the author would have been better served making a case (EEOC) instead of venting in a public method. Especially since the identities of the author and the company in question are very easy to track down. This could have long term negative consequences for the author, and may make his claim harder if he does decided to take his former employer to court.
However, it detracts from the story compared to a straight telling, which would have focused 100% on the racist jerk.
When should it be considered acceptable for a victim to mimic their aggressor's behavior (especially when it is similar behavior that caused the victimization to begin with)?
Disclaimer: I'm trying to understand and not support to any of the GP comments.
I'm not saying that this is what happened. You asked why it might be relevant and I just wanted to point this out.
IANAL, but I wonder if this post will hurt his chances of successfully pursuing his employers?
Why do you believe that? Have you been in a bunch of pitch perfect productive conversations about racism? In my experience, when one tactic for derailing conversations about racism fails people just pick up another one. In this conversation you see many such strategies at play:
I see all of these as efforts to not talk about the actual structures being criticized in the post:
* Saying the tone makes the message unlistenable
* Talking about the extent to which the post is effective activism ("he would be more effective if...")
* Stopping conversation do to perceived insurmountable "bias"
* Refocusing on other forms of racism (like the dumbwhite* comments)
* Talking about whether people are "racists" and refocusing on their overall character.
It goes on and on. Pitch perfect tone doesn't get you through that wilderness.
And honestly, when someone has been through something so traumatic, demanding perfect pitch is heartless.
However, let's take the story at face value for a second. What occured between this person and the people around him wasn't just inappropriate workplace conduct, it was systemic and demeaning in a way that is hard for someone to get if they're not the subject of it. Most people are not wired to take this kind of abuse in a sustained way. This person is hurt, they're confused, they feel powerless, and they're lashing out.
So I think we can probably get to the victim's fucked up statements after we let the outrage over the institutionalized racism that the story consists of simmer down, don't you think? I've said some pretty dumb, mean things when I'm suffering from emotional trauma, haven't you? At least we have an excuse and we can apologize and say, "That was my anger and frustration, I know it's wrong."
But perhaps what makes me most angry is that other members of this team were complicit in this treatment. They're not stopping it, they're not complaining, they're not resigning, they're not objecting. It's terrifying.
Repeat after me: WHITE PEOPLE DO NOT SUFFER FROM RACISM. Even if an individual was prejudiced against someone because they are white, they would not be affected outside of that one interaction. White folks' social standing and ability to survive are not attacked daily on the basis of their skin.
EDIT: This is in context for the United States based on the blog author being in SF.
Most of the country doesn't give a shit what color you are so long as you don't start with a presumptive "you're a fucking racist!" attitude.
So what about the rest of what he said?
> It's obvious by your stupid statement
There's no need for name calling. It's the lowest form of debate.
Hey there! I'm a white guy who has taken walks through Baltimore before— in fact, all of Baltimore. What you're talking about isn't at all systemic like the shit the OP has to deal with. Yes, white people are victims of racially-motivated crimes. In fact, some of them are event prosecuted as hate crimes! But it's not systemic, so comparing it to white-on-black racism isn't fair.
Also, please don't support your views with the, "I have black friends" excuse. It doesn't help your cause.
I totally accept that blacks face more racism in many aspects of society today, especially professionally. But in Baltimore a bunch of black kids jumped me, and they told me it was because I was white and I "thought I could walk around their neighborhood" (a block from Penn Station which is actually pretty gentrified). It wasn't even a robbery, although they did rob me, but if that was their only goal they wouldn't have continued to beat me for the ten minutes after I had given up. Oh, and of course that's not considered a hate crime.
So when that happens, and then you tell me, in all caps, that white people are never the victims of racism, do you think I'm more or less inclined to agree with your other points?
I wasn't killed but I was beat to a pulp one day for being white by a group of people. My crime? Trying to shake a guy's hand that walked up to me. Apparently that was some sort of insult. Not institutional enough for you? A non-white police officer was literally 20 feet away from me and did absolutely nothing. Probably because he was scared.
I've never had it happen to me before or since but to say someone cannot be violently targeted for being white is absurd. Was it racism? Well, that depends on your definition of racism. Some only consider it racism when perpetrated by someone who belongs to a group that traditionally has less power. But, I'll tell you, I felt pretty powerless that day in the face of a group with more power than I possessed at that moment.
EDIT: I would point out that some groups suffer much more from racism than others, so we should be aware of that reality in dealing with racism. To that end, whites in the United States are largely unaffected by racist attitudes.
That's a load of crap. I am considered "white" (you need papers and blood quote to prove you're Native American despite what some senatorial candidate thinks), and I have gotten a ton of crap because I grew up on a reservation not of my father's tribe. And no, I did not get to flee to the mystically accepting fellow white folk in the the town next door (I lived on the rez after all and am related).
The brain is an amazing pattern matching machine. You missed matching the whole pattern.
You're not helping your cause by making ridiculous statements. The most recent one I could find was 2 weeks ago. http://kstp.com/news/stories/s2778011.shtml
You have to go here to see the police report: http://lakeminnetonka.patch.com/articles/arrest-made-in-conn...
But you have to understand the rules of the game. Unless a black person is literally shouting "die whitey" while stomping someone to death, then it's not a hate crime when a black person attacks a white person, regardless of actual motivation or lack thereof. It's just another random senseless crime and not part of a pattern. See here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murders_of_Channon_Christian_an...
I am slavic. Wendish, specifically, if you are familiar. I am glad that my ancestors were enslaved for a while. It brought my culture out of petty infighting and settled us in Northern Europe. My life is better today because my ancestors were enslaved. For me to run around with a chip on my shoulder demanding reparations would be ridiculous.
The government does systematically dismantle white communities. Try running around saying you're proud of being white. You're instantly labeled a bigot. A man recently tried trademarking the phrase "white pride, country wide". Despite trademarks for everything from "jewish pride" to "latino pride", he was denied. The FBI specifically targets white nationalist organizations-- Randy Weaver had his wife and son murdered at Ruby Ridge because he refused to falsely testify against his Aryan Nations associates.
Respectfully, I think you are mistaken. Whites are the people that built this country, and we are under attack for the same reason that Marathis are under attack in India, and Gazprom is stealing land from Nigerians. Bankers and commodity magnates would separate those attached to the soil from the lands which rightfully belong to them, so they can endlessly charge them for being there, as well as steal all the resources.
Suppose in a population of 100, there are 20 blue and 80 green people. Suppose that 10 blue people are the victim of green crime in a given year, while blue people commit 20 crimes against green people in the same period. So you could say that blue people commit twice as much crime as green people, which is true, but that leaves out the fact of the population disparity. If a blue person has a 50% chance of criminal insult from a green person, while a green person only has a 25% chance of experiencing that, then it's obviously better to be green than it is to be blue because you are only half as likely to become a victim of crime.
Unfortunately, people such as yourself often look at the absolute numbers, compare the 20 blue-on-green crimes with the blue population size of 20, and leap to the conclusion that all blue people are criminals. While the percentage of criminals in the blue population is almost certainly higher on the basis of simple probability (as blue criminals would otherwise need to be >8 more active than green ones), what you have there is a correlative rather than a causal relationship : we don't know to what extent the incidence of criminality in a population causes crime against that population, a classic chicken-and-egg problem that most likely does not have a simple binary solution.
Actually, the crime rate among blacks is much higher even after normalizing for population.
As a Slav, my people were in bondage much longer than blacks in the United States. Try an order of a millenia or two. I do not care. It is far more advantageous for me to be industrious and build personal wealth than blame distant oppressors for a few centuries of enslavement. I benefitted from the bad conditions of my ancestors, and guess what? So did blacks in the United States. They should stop being professional victims and make things if they want to have equal cultural influence.
Beyond that, this whole discussion is a distraction from the people that have real undue power, those in control of the banks and the media.... If we fight amongst ourselves about race we miss the man behind the Zion curtain.
Go troll somewhere else, weev.
Incidents of violence crime based on race occur, there is no disputing that. What we are talking about primarily is racism as it affects whites, both on a micro- and macro-level (which is annoying that you taking a derailment in this direction since the original story is a black man talking about individual racist experiences working in the valley, notice how you and others have made this about whites rather than racist treatment of people of color).
> I am slavic. Wendish, specifically, if you are familiar. I am glad that my ancestors were enslaved for a while. It brought my culture out of petty infighting and settled us in Northern Europe. My life is better today because my ancestors were enslaved. For me to run around with a chip on my shoulder demanding reparations would be ridiculous.
This is post hoc reasoning. You have no idea how the Wends would be as a culture today in the absence of enslavement. Also, your current standing today in no way makes amends for the rape and murder of a people in the past. It should be noted that the history of the Wends is much further removed than the history of blacks in the United States, and that white-ness has become the social norm in the western world, so you benefit from a social condition that directly depends on the exploitation of people of color if you live in one of those western countries. Also, the experience of you as Wendish is extremely different some a black person living in the United States, so I don't believe there is even a comparison to make here.
> The government does systematically dismantle white communities.
Show me where the United States is actively dismantling or has actively dismantled white community based on race in modern history, because AFAIK there is no such scenario.
> Try running around saying you're proud of being white. You're instantly labeled a bigot. A man recently tried trademarking the phrase "white pride, country wide". Despite trademarks for everything from "jewish pride" to "latino pride", he was denied.
In the United States, white-ness is considered the cultural default. Most of society in the United States already promotes white-ness above the cultures of people of color. Also, white supremacy groups continue to operate and hate speech is not a crime in the US, so these groups may continue to operate if they so choose to. Note that if you are trying to promote white superiority, then yes you are a bigot.
> The FBI specifically targets white nationalist organizations-- Randy Weaver had his wife and son murdered at Ruby Ridge because he refused to falsely testify against his Aryan Nations associates.
The Aryan Nations are not just an advocacy group, they are a separatist group that advocates and performs acts of violence. These groups are investigated by the FBI for operating in that way.
> Respectfully, I think you are mistaken. Whites are the people that built this country
This is grossly mistaken. While whites have contributed to what this country is today, so have non-white immigrants and slaves and their descendants. If you truly believe that white people made the US, you need to crack open a history book.
> we are under attack for the same reason that Marathis are under attack in India, and Gazprom is stealing land from Nigerians.
I won't be making comments about society and cultures that are not western, as rarely do such comparisons actually contain truth, and I do not have enough knowledge of those situations to accurately describe them.
If "built" == "shot the Native Americans who settled"
There's another definition, which is talk that's designed to maintain & reinforce the institutionalised power structure among races. Right now, if modern USA life was a video game, "white male" would be an easier difficulty level than "black male". There are statistically less problems for the "white male" group. Racist talk is talk that re-enforced that imbalance. This definition is harder for some people to accept because it means that you need to look at yourself and think about what power imbalances you might be benefiting from, and it means you can't just do s/white/black/g and make it just as racist.
I generally think it's safer to frame in terms of the effect (which you mostly do) than motivation. Even if someone has no ill intent, and simply talks a certain way because they haven't really thought about the issues, their speech still does harm.
But it doesnt matter if its funny! It matters if its racist!
There are degrees of racism? Wasn't that a binary thing? I understand that racists aren't created equal since some are filled with more prejudices than others but I think the same doesn't apply to racism itself. I'm not arguing that life is harder for people who are (or so we are told, I've got no data) the majority of victims but a victim being racist isn't being "less racist" after all. He's contributing to a vicious circle. Whilst I understand such behaviour from an emotional point of view, it's definitely not wise.
In most situations, saying "dumbblack" would be more offensive for black person than "dumbwhite" for white person. Especially in this case. It's like if you had a couple of bad experiences with the police, you could start saying offensive things about police officers in general. You could be accused of "policism" but in fact, it would be quite understandable reaction. When he said "dumbwhite", he was kind of "revenging" their racism, which is very different from saying "dumbwhite" just because he disrespects white people.
That's like saying that steak is food, but ramen isn't. Clearly, steak is considered a higher-quality food, but that doesn't negate the fact that ramen is food as well.
Due to the historical mistreatment of black people in America, it is more socially unacceptable to say something like "dumbblack"; however, "dumbwhite" is no less accurately described by 'a hatred or intolerance of another race'.
See, while I think the author has something of a chip on his shoulder, he's got some historical and demographic basis for it, and chips weigh more heavily on younger shoulders; it's easier for me to be philosophical about life's obstacles insofar as I've survived to middle age in reasonable comfort and so on. And no, I don't think this is an unacceptable way to speak. It's unacceptable in the workplace, and I'd be lukewarm towards it in a social context, but people have to the freedom to think and express things that I find odious to the extent that I have the freedom to disagree or walk away without any negative consequences. That's not the case in an employment situation, because while you can walk away there's a measurable economic cost to doing so.
EDIT: plus, it's easy for me to avoid dealing with this guy. I won't be his friend. But I really worry about the culture of the software industry, and if Kixeye spreads to mean more asshole workplaces, that's something that's a lot harder to avoid.
I mean, yeah, ideally everyone is infinitely calm and can call these things out in a measured way every time they happen. But you're asking a lot from the victims here in order to spare the feelings of the aggressors. (Perhaps unintentional aggressors, but aggressors just the same.) What you're suggesting isn't easy.
And what's to say that the person he calls out will take it well? Look at what happened at his workplace: they told him that the things he was complaining about were only jokes and that he was too sensitive. Look at what is happening in this thread: people are complaining about his tone, complaining about his word choice, and insinuating that he's making things up. That's not even going into the people who start out ostensibly agreeing before segueing into what sounds like their main point: how racist they think the author was being.
So give the tone argument a rest. It's one of the most reliable distractions that people fall back on to avoid discussing racism, sexism, and all other kinds of oppression, and it's already taken over way too much of this thread.
Your world of rainbows and unicorns sounds amazing, where all racism comes from under-informed people who can then be rightly fixed by prompt education!
Clearly, oppressively racist institutions where people are powerless to correct the situation don't exist. Where they appear to exist, the victims just didn't assert themselves strongly enough. If they just calmly told their oppressors that they were being racist and offensive, they would stop!
This totally explains away the entirety of slavery and apartheid. I'm just shocked that no one over hundreds of years just nicely stopped someone, explained how what they were doing is wrong, and had them stop!
Seriously though, I'm glad that your experiences have been exclusively in places where people actually respond to criticism and education. And I mean that - facing the sort of horrific, powerless racism that many people do every day is terrible, and no one deserves to experience it from either end of the stick. Your experience is not generalizable to all instances of racism - it's not even generalizable to a minority of it.
Gentrifiers are economic invaders that dismantle the ability of the poor (particularly people of color) to live in their established communities. This is a known form of systemic oppression that disproportionately effects people of color, esp. black folk.
> If people would, instead of isolating people displaying these behaviors, instead approach them and talk to them and continue to treat them as friends, it would go a long way towards fixing things.
This whole blog post is about someone who ultimately does point this kind of behavior out to a manager only to have that manager totally ignore them. In non-professional contexts, calling people out has gotten folks attacked, beaten, harassed, maimed, and killed. The solution to ending this kind of oppression is not niceness and having those being fucked over bend over backwards.
It should be noted that your friend as a higher up at a company is an exception to the rule, as black people are not well represented in management in the business world and often do not have the luxury of using authority to back up their call out.
Not only is this terribly racist and sexist culture not just a figment of the author's politics - it's something the company is proud of: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2012/08/...
I really hope these jokers get sued out of existence. These kind of companies are the reason anti-discrimination laws should exist in the first place.
I hope someone takes him up on that dare.
This seems like a vent piece. It's not his job to "cure" racism and he most certainly has the right to be upset. People don't like the way he's conveying that? Well that's fine -- I have the feeling that he doesn't hold their expectations in very high regard anyway
The same way that Dallas is "dangerously close" to Texas.
Really? You're telling someone who is being treated in a sub-human way to deal with this on the specific terms that are most comfortable to the in-power assholes who are being offensive? Not everyone can (or should) be exactly like your black friend.
Clearly this institution has huge problems and what they are doing is totally wrong. BUT... the author just sat there and took it. He internalized the issues and let them consume him, going home, smoking weed and collapsing inward on himself. The guy is gay, so it makes sense that he reacted passive aggressively. Females tend to behave this way, which is why a lot of workplace related sexist shit still goes on. Girls don't speak up, they're submissive. They don't make it known that what is happening is wrong, and so nothing is done about it.
Obviously, in a perfect world, no one should have to speak up about shit like this! It's wrong! These guys that are acting like this are out of control. But... at the same time you cannot sit and take it and internalize it and think that magically things will get better. Stand up tall, and tell the person directly.
Be clear. Be loud.
I am so happy that your (black) friend does what he does. That is EXACTLY what you need to do. And yeah, it's unfortunate that the burdon is on the person being offended when what they are doing (simply existing with a different skin color or sexual orientation) is not wrong. But... that is the only way that things will change.
"I take a very deep breath through my nose. I tell him, rather I clarify for him that many things said by him and other people in the office has been racist, sexist, homophobic, transpho-
“Whoa whoa whoa, those comments you’re hearing aren’t racist; they’re jokes!”"
The guy is gay, so it makes sense that he reacted passive aggressively.
That doesn't make any sense. Being interested in same-sex sex has nothing to do with passive aggression.
Females tend to behave this way, which is why a lot of workplace related sexist shit still goes on.
Women speaking up about workplace sexism is often a job-ender, if not a career-ender. That's not submissiveness, it's business acumen.
Be clear. Be loud.
That's not a complete solution. It's step 2. Step 1 is to educate enough men and white people that we can actually have a culture where clear, loud pronouncements of wrongdoing are actually heard and taken seriously, without career repercussions.
And I'm assuming when you say "Be clear. Be loud." you're speaking to white men, right? Because women and people of color already have to do way too much education in their spare time, and it's the privileged who have the extra time and energy to pick up the slack and speak out about these issues, right?
"Hey, I'm not sure how to tell you this, but you're not black." (laughs all around...)
"You know you're white, right?"
"Slavery ended a long time ago, blacks have nobody to blame but themselves by now" (roughly paraphrased)
"I've got plenty of black friends. They agree with me on [fucked up view]."
I'm a human being and I've seen black Americans treated more like shit than anybody else, by far, throughout my life. Usually it's the side-swiping stuff the author talks about, but sometimes it's right in my face, usually when discussing politics and social issues with my peers.
Ultimately, I end up doing what most everybody else does in my situation: I withdraw. I don't debate anymore. I don't grin, but I bear it. I help people where I can, silently.
I know I really only make technical posts on this website, but shit, sometimes you've gotta vent.
Maybe they should actually try and focus as a company.
1. insist the programmers work. There games are not that great.
2. insist their website get up to 2012 standards. I would assume they were not a serious company based upon their all Flash website.
3. Look at Chick-Fil-A and the onslaught of people pissed off at their stance on gay's in the workplace. We should be equally pissed at Kixeye and boycott them too.
4. There are standard stereotypical jokes and then there are blatant racist comments.
Example Joke: Asians have a lot of trouble parking and stopping at stop signs.
Blatant racism: "Hey Joe, I mean Ying, to use your real name, nice 30 point parallel park this morning, you really are Asian."
There is a difference. I am white and I live in a very predominantly Asian area of Cupertino and the joke would be funny to a lot of Asians. The racism, no.
Kudos to the OP for writing this.
We can all tell he is upset at what he experienced. Some of this shows through but boil this down to the essence and we have a company that is openly encouraging a racist environment and in 2012 nobody should have to worry about being black, white, purple, gay, straight, trans-gender, dress like a thug, cross-dress, etc...
Edit: Thinking about this more, the OP gets irritated when the company served a lunch of "Fried Chicken and Waffles". He implies indirectly to Black folk this is an insult. However, look at the menu of "Waffle House" and it is an item on the menu. There wasn't anything really wrong with the lunch they served. It is one of those lunch combinations that people just know about and associate with Blacks.
Example: Fried Chicken and Watermelon - Black
Corn Beef and Cabbage - Irish
Tea and Cucumbers - WASPS (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant)
Mac and Cheese with Hot Dogs - White
Racist company and an OP that is coming down to their level more often than he should. Let the water roll off a ducks back...
You can't (and shouldn't) regulate online gaming culture, which isn't tragic because you can opt out of it (I don't play Xbox games online for that very reason) but you can't expect a person to opt out of the workplace.
I had to remind myself that this was a blog post. That it wasn't a literary article or technical diagram. I look for unbiased, factual reporting that is meant to educate and improve awareness. This is not one of those things. It's an inflammatory post where an individual is airing his grievances. I feel sorry that someone can be treated so poorly in a workplace, but at the same time, the author damages his point by using equally vitriolic and occasionally stereotypical phrases.
I hope the author is able to find a work environment that is more progressive and that is more respectful of all genders, creeds and sexual orientations.
Also, at some point after this conversation took
place, one of the women looked at my prized necklace
and said “Hey, that looks like a calculator, is that a calculator?”
I said “um no, it’s a necklace, it’s African, from Nairobi.”
And she replies “Oh, huh…..well, it looks like a calculator.”
do what white men always can’t help but do: “educate.”
edit: this too
I cannot afford to take white people’s shit anymore.
Now it may be true that work was just the part that took them over the top, but I am not going to dismiss his clearly painful experience because of that.
I can't relate to his experience (middle class, white, male) but what I can do is read what he wrote and what jumps out most at me is his own racism. I think that for a post like this to truly achieve anything (as in, explain the issue to those that have no way to understand or relate) it needs to be without any sort of... I guess distraction.
It reflects poorly on me and everyone else that is unable to separate what is ultimately meaningless (his own racism) from the general point (kixeye has bad employees / management) and I think your point about his level of anger could be the reason why this actually has value (shows he is so angry / upset he lets himself become racist) to the post.
I want to care about his problem but I can't relate so I'm stuck trying to take value from what he has said and I can't do that without being overwhelmed by his own racism. I think what tptacek said above is right though, he doesn't matter, the post isn't about him, it's about the people at kixeye.
I'll leave my comment just for the sake of not destroying the conversation, but I no longer think it has value here.
Racism and all *ism has an interesting (as in sociological) property that like electric charge is simulates the opposite charge on the other side of the dielectric. I happen to fall into the last unprotected class on the planet (old fat white guys :-) but having worked with and at times managed a very diverse set of folks my entire life it became clear there are people who are racists by 'choice' and people who are reflexively racist.
Lets postulate for the sake of example that racism had a measurable quantity, from 1.0 which is some sort of 'my race is the only one worth anything' to the 0.0 which is complete blindness to race in thought, speech, or action.
The perception of racism or sexism for people whom have discussed the experience with me was that one person could exhibit say 0.5 units of bias, and they they fall into a thought process that everyone is 0.5 racist. It very much shares a sort of 'herd immunity' reflex. If 90% percent of the folks in the group are blind to race issues then the 10% who aren't will stick out. What percentage of people have to be tolerably racist before its toxic? Does it matter? Why would anyone tolerate any sort racism in the work place?
So if person A is racist by choice, which is to say they have done some sort of evaluation and decided that race has an effect which transcends environment or skills, their actions and comments will create in people of that 'other' race a reflexive alter-racism (and always people are not perfect reflectors, for some it bounces off, for others it gets amplified). Now you get something like racism amplification by stimulated emission of insults [1} or something. That sort of situation is, painful, toxic to morale, and legally actionable.
The critical point though is we have to see this sort of missive not as 'professional victims' (although there are such people, painting any individual into that group without first hand knowledge is probably wrong) but as a signal that you have a problem. And getting everyone to buy into the notion that we're all individuals and not everyone finds ethnic jokes or sex jokes funny, is one of the more important jobs for management. As an individual you're best off trying not to be part of the problem.
 RASEI? The effect is remarkably similar
Not that that in any way justifies his treatment, which is beyond bad and well into legally actionable.
But the 'educate' bit is on-point. It's similar to womens complaints about "mansplaining". It's not tit-for-tat racism; it's identifying a common behavior that objectively (and for nigh-on-tautological reasons) is something only really done by white men.
And as to the "white people's shit": that does strike me as tit-for-tat racism.
But just as I wouldn't judge any of the dude-bros at that company for their failure to be perfectly enlightened beings when they hurl a given thoughtless remark, I certainly can't find the moral high-ground to judge anyone who's, daily, on the receiving end of such nonsense for lashing out in kind while venting.
And that makes it not racist?
e.g. "Mansplaining" describes a behavior perpetrated overhwelmingly by men. By not by all men. And it's not right to automatically assume a given man is going to mansplain something.
But when a man starts mansplaining, it's not misandry to note that mansplaining is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men.
If crime were perpetrated, objectively and statistically overwhelmingly, by black people, or black people were objectively and statistically overwhelmingly criminals, it would be fair to talk about crime being a thing black people do.
The crucial difference is the statistics do not remotely support such assertions. In fact, they flatly reject such relationships.
Nor is being a criminal remotely causally linked to being black, the way being ignorant of straight white male privilege is almost (again: almost tautologically) causally linked to being a straight white man, or the way being a 'mansplainer' is almost causally linked to mansplaining. 
 To state it more explicitly: you can't likely grow up mansplaining and reach maturity without having the tendency pointed out to you if you're not a man. Because our cultural baggage is that women defer to men and thus face more scrutiny/skepticism/criticism than men when they do disagree.
So even if we assume that everyone starts off equally likely to be a 'mansplainer' by mere chance, the female mansplainers are overwhelmingly going to have that tendency pointed out, challenged and be made aware of it.
Mansplaining adults will, thus, be almost entirely men because of said cultural baggage.
Similarly, it's pretty much impossible to grow up and reach maturity ignorant of remaining straight white male privilege in the US unless you happen to be a straight white male. If we again assume that the tendency to be 'blind' to remaining racism/sexism/homophobia is randomly distributed, only those with that 'blindness' who are straight/white/males are likely to reach maturity without having encountered situations that made it impossible to remain ignorant of such remaining tensions.
Applying the same considerations: if we assume the tendency to commit crimes is evenly/randomly distributed at birth, there's no evidence that non-black would-be criminals overwhelmingly receive some life experience that steers them away from crime. To the contrary we find that white would-be criminals are much more likely to have life experiences that result in the crimes they do commit being excused or ignored.
So not only is there no evidence that being black makes you more likely to commit crime, there is evidence that being white makes you far less likely to be charged, prosecuted and found guilty.
That is: a black person is no more likely to commit crime, refuting the assertion, and they have the deck stacked against them, meaning that asserting such a link is not only wholly unfounded by the data, but it takes a further act of white privilege to ignore the existence of the stacked deck.
Much like some of the worst extremes of feminism, where it was forgotten that the goal was "equality", not "favorable treatment for women at the expense of men as recompense".
His thoughts on this? "Is this guy for real, or an uber-creep [hitting on me]"...
Which I gotta say, even from his telling of what happened, wasn't a possibility that entered my mind.
Why does his sexual orientation factor into his credibility for you?
In other words, you just stopped reading and don't care about the alleged racism.
IDC about that, and for what's worth try watching Frost / Nixon with no sound. Would you still find it awesome? Doubt it.
The same goes for reading through an article and trying to ignore his rage induced ramblings. As more than one commenter before me pointed out, he is biased and it shows. Badly.
Poor gay people exist. Read this: http://joeclark.org/gaymoney/facts/
Experience doesn't get to dictate racism.
On the other hand, he's black and he's dressing different from other people at the office, so it's "thuggish"
The power differential between them. This guy's racism exists on tumblr and is targeted at noone, the racism he suffered at work was going from a manager to a lower employee. It's the same reason teacher-pupil relationships are never acceptable, no matter the age or maturity of the student.
I wish that neither Kixeye employees nor the blogger made racist comments, but we can decry one as worse than the other.
While the author certainly doesn't deserve to be treated with disrespect, I think there is some looking inward that needs to happen here too.
Also, that judgement really doesn't affect the manager, as he was just able to walk out of that meeting and continue to be a shithead.
It is racist. Anti-white racism is a common feature of modern black culture, but it's not considered controversial because of the traditional oppression of black people and the lingering effects that has today.
I've ranted and raved before about how despicable I consider some of the HR practices common in the games industry, how how in particular I feel that certain companies treat their employees as disposable and prioritize the success of individual products over the health of the team and the health of the company culture.
This, however, is on an entirely separate level: The company management itself being complicit in the abuse of employees, and taking actions that not only damage the team & culture but actually jeopardize the success of products by seeding anger and distrust between team members. That even a single person in a management position would allow this kind of shit to go on is disgusting.
When Harbin (Kixeye's CEO) quoted Conan the Barbarian in their tasteless recruitment video ('What is best in life? To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.') my instinctual response was negative. To me, even for a company that intends to appeal to the hardcore male gamer audience, using that kind of language - language of oppression and sexism and violence - when talking about making social games felt unnecessary and excessive. It made me wonder if perhaps the company's CEO actually shared the perspective espoused by the fictional character of Conan - but that couldn't possibly be true, could it? Could someone actually feel that way about others so strongly that he'd be willing to say so, unabstracted, in a video designed to present his company to the rest of the world and excite prospective employees? Of course not, right?
I also find it extremely interesting to contrast-and-compare Kixeye's depictions of Zynga/Mark Pincus, and Kixeye, in their recruitment video  with my personal experiences with both companies. I almost feel as if the staff behind that video were projecting their own fears and insecurities onto their competitors.
I can only imagine this kind of attitude can be go unchecked in an insular frat-boy-ish culture where strong ties and long hours are valued more than respect and work output.
Definitely something to watch out for - even if you're in the in-group and not being harassed, it's not fun witnessing this kind of petty abuse.
Even if this IS exaggerated the allegations are still very serious. Times like these are a reminder that the tech industry is still living in the dark ages where sexism and racism is rampant at worst and disconcerting at best. WE will not get past this problem if we keep questioning everyone who raises the issue. We need to be more accepting of the issues that exist instead of attacking the messenger.
I wouldn't say I am disappointed by the discussion here because the HN crowd is generally sheltered from the problems of prejudice(consisting mainly of straight, white, men) but unless we as an industry start accepting this issue we will continue to languish as a one of the most gender and racially lopsided industries in the world.
Don’t worry though! There IS something you can do to nip this potentially awkward and embarrassing situation in the bud. By simply derailing the conversation, dismissing their opinion as false and ridiculing their experience you can be sure that they continue to be marginalised and unheard and you can continue to look like the expert you know you really are, deep down inside! "
The more you know: http://www.derailingfordummies.com/complete.html
On that same note, don't bring yourself to his level and start throwing out racist slurs too. Your words are public domain now, and if they get a lawyer with any sense, they might find a defense in your offense.
kick his teeth in in court though! (figuratively of course)
There is covert racism. That's harder to stop, but a good way to start ending it is to accept that in the workplace you might want to restrict the "jokes" that you tell.
And then there's all the sub-conscious prejudice that's so hard to eliminate.
He certainly didn't hide the company very well. However knowing the company makes his allegations much more plausible.
There are upsides to such an anything-goes environment as well (creativity, originality), but it's clear that in this case, anything goes to the extent that you're white and male. I'm not wholly in sympathy with the author (that necklace does kinda look like a pocket calculator, and the inquiry didn't seem malicious), but think he is right to seek redress. That said, it would be a good idea to consult an attorney about how much to say in public; showing an advert for your employer that will be recognizable to many other people in the locality may be a bad idea.
Was that inherently a racist thing to say? Because looking at it... it does look like something electronic.
There's no question that the workplace was hostile, but there are too many side quests in this article. I'm not sure what Jose's marriage or the Dumbwhite-comment has to do with it. Maybe I'm missing something.
>Also, at some point after this conversation took place, one of the women looked at my prized necklace and said “Hey, that looks like a calculator, is that a calculator?”
I didn't really read that as immediately after, more along the lines of "sometime later that day someone walked up and asked if my necklace was a calculator"... the sentence doesn't give a good grasp on timing.
Note who has given them funding. Send this blog post to the VC companies that have given them funding. Should hit them where it hurts.
And yes, take legal action. (Although seek legal council to ensure first bit isn't considered slander or what have you. Be in best possible position for a legal battle.) Companies like this give the profession a bad name.
As with any story a reader wants to like the characters they are reading about. It's hard to like someone who is constantly angry, depressed, sarcastic, and bitter. You, as a person may feel these things, and be completely correct to feel them, however you make it hard to read your story without a contrast. For example, "I love games" or "I love the way I feel in Oakland" or "I am so proud of my necklace I don't care what others think." People can empathize with pain, but they also need joy, hope, and a reason to like you.
Another way to win the rhetorical battle is to use humor. Your reactions to the abuse are shock, horror, rage, and sarcasm. Feel free to interject a joke or two. In ten years you will be telling jokes about these ignorant people. Make them into caricatures, lampoon them, exaggerate their folly so that people will not just be angry at them on your behalf but seem them as an absurd throwback to a time you wish had passed.
Tell a story that demonstrates the moral high ground. What I remember from your post is that you tried to say something, gave up, then went home, got high and watched Netflix. People want to be inspired to take action, and if you have a story, even if it means talking to HR, that is incredibly powerful. How does your behavior model an appropriate response for others who might be in your shoes? A lawsuit may be appropriate, but from reading your story it seems like a dramatic escalation, you need to lead people into it.
I can't say I understand what you're going through, but I do support your effort and I'm disgusted on behalf of white-straight-geeks everywhere. If an apology means anything I'm sorry you are going through this.
He's not MLK, Jr. He's a guy telling a personal story. The world needs a plurality of voices to advance; the despondent and downtrodden remind us where we are, and the transcendent and hopeful show us a way out.
If you actually want to help, first listen.
Don't let racists bring you down to their level.
We have at least: "You're too hostile", with a side order of "You're being Overemotional" and "You Are Damaging Your Cause By Being Angry" plus a few "But that Happens to Me Too!" and plenty of "But I'm Not Like That - Stop Stereotying!". Any more?
(I could link to the guilty parties, but they'd probably only start arguing the toss.)
Now being a jerk isn't so awful. But we could just walk away and have our conversation in private, right? It's a free country after all.
But when this kind of derailment happens over and over again to the point that no matter when or where you bring it up, SOMEONE finds a way to derail the conversation, it starts to become oppressive. At that point the community is conspiring to prevent people from discussing racism.
And so we implore you to decide, FOR YOURSELF, that you would like to join us in making space for real talk about racism. The notion of "self-censorship" is nonsense. We all have free will and and we can decide what to speak about. I'm not going to get the government to silence you, I'm asking you to understand the effects of your words and to take responsibility for them.
Really? In 2012?
Not that this says whether Kixeye is the company described by OP.
The image at the top is from one of their many, many, obnoxious ads.
That's no excuse for making their company website look like a black market gun store.
But this wouldn't be my comment if I agreed with everything. Then I'd just have upvoted the post further. The problem here is, that this article also paints a picture about the author and it doesn't paint a very welcoming one to me. The article itself is littered with racism and typical "anti-hate" buzzwords. The kind of words I usually hear from people filled with lots and lots of hate themselves.
That is definitely not the answer to any of the problems OP has faced. Is it understandable? Yes. Does it help? Not at all. Don't get me wrong: It's important that people get the word out to fight racism, because it's still prevalent all over the world but fighting fire with fire never helped and calling a racist any racist slurs only makes things worse.
Then there are some things I personally disagree with in general. PC speech is incredibly bad (and ineffective anyway) I think. Not only does it just shift the problem to a different domain, it also attacks free speech. Being pretty fundamentalist about free speech I can't find any good about trying to make a language "politically correct". After all, the problem aren't the words. The problem are the values different people assign to them. What we need to do isn't "banning bad words", we need to make people more open-minded. If this isn't accomplish, banning words won't help anyway, because one day the "politically correct" word will have the exact same value attached to them as - say, for example - "nigger" has today. Language isn't written in stone. It always moves and evolves and after all it's a reflection of culture and society.
Besides - not really related to the article - I don't believe in never offending anyone. In fact, I think I offend people on a daily basis just by stating my opinions and seriously, I couldn't care less. Obviously, racism is a bit more than just offending.
Oh yeah and by the way, last time I checked, neoliberalism was a school of economic thought.
But the comments should be turned off. This is such a heated topic and are there aren't any right answers to this problem besides "keep it in mind, don't do what they did". What can possibly be discussed here besides emotional bickering from both sides. It does not seem productive and is not interesting conversation.
(I posted this exact same comment on another thread on HN today, about the sexism at a tech conference... http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4602688)
This, along with sexism, is difficult to talk about well, but I don't know if that means we need to stop talking.
My point is that discussing controversial social issues is generally unproductive. Worth thinking about, but unless PG devotes his next essay to this topic, I don't think anyone is going to be changing their minds here.
For what it's worth I agree with most of your comments on this thread, and the backlash you are getting has really lowered my average opinion of this community. It's disgusting.
I don't know if talking about it will make anything any better, but I have a hard time with the idea of not talking about it as a way to improve things.
plus the run dmc segue into the 'what i wore today' image was a bit gratuitous
"And it’s not a matter of generalizing white people, rather it’s being real about the culture San Francisco creates."
The author is angry that white culture perpetuates racism and privilege, which himself and other cultural minorities are now forced to tolerate at their workplace. His choice of words was obviously inappropriate and while I'm not excusing how his point was said I don't believe it was his intention to make his point using racist statements.
This is a classic example of "What you said was racist VS. You are a racist":
... which is where the story starts to go bad. Videogame testing is a notoriously terrible space with incredibly unacceptable behaviors (see http://trenchescomic.com/tales for a selection of them). Which is not something I note to imply that our blogger should have known better; it's something I want to hilite to raise consciousness about it.
I'm glad this author is taking action and hope he gets all the support he can from his communities (including this one). This stuff is poisonous, unacceptable, and right under the noses of a lot of tech companies. It needs to stop.
That said...there is a difference between some guy ranting on a blog and a 200+ company with what appears to be institutionalized problems of sexism and racism ingrained into their culture. In a respectable tech company, any one of the alleged comments made by Steve would have landed him in a hotseat meeting with HR but-quick. The fact that he still works there at all is troubling to say the least.
Put another way, if any of this is even remotely true then you couldn't pay me enough to work there.
I mean, you should be able to sue people for saying enormities like that!
If you are going to take exception to racist, sexist and stereotypical joking - which is most certainly your right in a professional work environment, you may want to re-evaluate your own notions of "the evil white oppressor" and recognize it for the racism that it is.
I wish I could take this tale at face value, but the author is clearly looking for oppression whether it exists or not. I'm not sure at this point one could expect that this telling is even remotely close to accurate.
Is there an explanation for the events in the story that aren't clear examples of oppression? I can't find one.
While I normally don't think a particular view would be that far from reality, in this case the author's clear bias - to the point of railing against a woman that made the cardinal sin of comparing his necklace to a calculator somehow equating to racism - I'm not so sure.
Really? How about some guys talking BS and making irreverent jokes?
You keep using this word "oppression". I don't think it means what you think it means.
Even if we take the most charitable interpretation possible, that this wasn't anything more than "talking BS" and "irreverent jokes" and that the person making jokes was just clueless and not trying to be deliberately hurtful, that still doesn't make this kind of behavior OK. Ignorance of common decency is no excuse not to be decent.
Are white people supposed to be privileged in a company and black people non-privileged? Was he denied changes to get a promotion, or had he to make do with less wage? What was his "under-privileged" status?
If two white guys, say an Irish and a Southern, exchange Irish and Redneck jokes at one another, does that count as "verbal abuse" too? Or is it only verbal abuse when they turn and address similar stuff to a black co-worker?
There's a large sea of historical context that we're all swimming in. You can pretend it doesn't exist and make your cute little conjectures about Irish and Redneck jokes.
I sure would. He comes off as a judgemental, reverse-racist (I lost count of the "anti-white-in-general" references), and unable to take a joke guy with an axe to grind.
I care far more for actual cases of racism, like an over-representation of the black population being in prison, or the government (and the country) pissing all over native american rights, that for some guy crying over some jokes said in his office without any links to actual facts of racism (like, I was paid less because I was black, I was not promoted because I was black, etc).
>There's a large sea of historical context that we're all swimming in. You can pretend it doesn't exist and make your cute little conjectures about Irish and Redneck jokes.
YOU might be swimming in. This is the internet, it's global. My country didn't trade in black slaves, so I could care less for that hypocritical "after the fact" guilt.
It feels you're setting up a false dichotomy between "actual" racism that involves things like incarceration rates and workplace discrimination and "fake" racism that involves things like hostile workplaces and harassment. It is possible to care about both.
And maybe you wouldn't cry over jokes like that, but it doesn't mean that it's wrong for someone else to have a different response.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5l-nnR4Bx0 (probably NSFW)
But this dude's attitude is fucked up. It's statements like OP's that keep me from engaging in any meaningful way with organizing against racism and gentrification.
If you're a white cis male, even one that acknowledges and tries to check his privilege, who thinks poor people shouldn't be displaced on account of Twitter moving to the Tenderloin, a whole lot of people in the anti-gentrification movement think the only appropriate thing for you to do is move out of the city yourself, because you being white and male and having gainful employment is part of the problem.
I went to one meeting where one black speaker insinuated that white people "don't have a right" to move to Oakland, whether or not they're moving for economic reasons.
That's racist. Straight up. Nobody should make excuses for that kind of language, regardless of the extreme privilege historically enjoyed by white men in this country.
Just because I'm white doesn't mean I'm a colonizer, or fetishizing poverty, or anything else, and the knee-jerk bigotry expressed by the original poster needs to be addressed by people in activist circles who just let stuff like that go unchallenged.
This blog post has been a very sad reality check for me.
Instead of jumping on what the guy with no power did wrong, why not focus on the utterly despicable way in which he's been treated? If that's not your first and most urgent concern, then you really need to ask yourself why it isn't.
Maybe this is a dumb response, but I'm immediately led to wonder if this has anything to do with it being in QA. I have a friend who worked in QA at a game company and, while he never mentioned witnessing such racism, he did describe a shocking amount of disrespect and hostility and a widespread attitude that HR would do absolutely nothing to deal with it. Again perhaps it's a silly thought, but maybe when your barriers to entry are "hey do you play videogames" and you're picking up anybody off the street, you aren't going to create the best team.
I will be sure to avoid Kixeye's games (Battle Pirates, Backyard Monsters, War Commanders), and hope to hear of them going under soon.
While it might sound as if in effect there is no difference, I think there might be: one variant makes the victim think "whoa, the world is full of racists out to get me", the other is "just another asshole boss".
I mean the latter case would be somebody looking for weaknesses in his opponents. If the other person is a white guy, he would probably find something else, joke about is weight, being poor or whatever applies.
That's of course no excuse, it just seems easier to remove yourself from the affects of one bad boss/colleague than from racism.
I find it hard to take seriously a rant on racism in the work place where, on not just one but several occasions, refer to someone who is being ignorant as a "dumbwhitemotherfucker".
Yeah, not buying it.
Between the racist PoS featured in the story, and the author's various nasties about "white neoliberal imperialist blah blah blah", the above quote is my take on things.
I'll also add that articles meant to elicit rage are usually not great; they're often intended to shut down one's thinking processes, and lead to heated discussions.
The author seems to imply that SF is really racist. Is there any truth to that or did I just not notice while I was there?
Backwards racism at it's finest.
I have a friend from [insert some exotic country here].
I love [insert some singer from some minority group here]
To the more awkward:
What's up bro!
[insert awkward racial remark of your liking here]
It comes to no surprise that some would even choose to compensate by exhibiting a bold racist behaviour that, they think, should be received with some reverse psychology acrobatics: I'm preemptively making racist jokes, because I want to show you that I'm not actually racist and rather open. (I'm also kinda covering my ass now, in case I do happen to trip over my tongue later and say something really out of place).
Sadly, an increasing amount of people who behave like this also think that it's ok and that racism is now in the eye of the beholder. So they will tell their jokes to Kevin, who they've just barely met and if Kevin takes offence, then it's Kevin who's too sensitive about that kind of humour. So they will apologize by saying something like relax bro, I didn't mean it in a racist way. I have many black friends. Racism doesn't exist anymore. Chill, have a sense of humour. They never stop to wonder, did Kevin, who is from Ghana, connect with their African American stereotyped jokes? Do his black friends actually even call him "bro"? Does he or the people he associates with actually use the n word?
Do they actually acknowledge that this behaviour isn't acceptable? The way they reason is, I'm not racist, so I can just keep calling my black friends n, as long as I don't mean it in a negative way. So it's not surprising that later they'll try the exact same jokes on Robert, thinking he might be of the "more open minded inclination".
My tip when it comes to befriend minorities (this is going to be a let down): They're just people, get to know them like you would anybody else. Don't attempt any "hacks", don't play games, don't test them thinking that the outcome should be different from any other human being. Take the time to know the person, don't assume that you've figured them out based on their gender, orientation or physical appearance.
From the comment above (and several other parts of his article) he certainly appears to be just as racist as the people he's trying to demonize. Not to mention there's a crazy amount of self entitlement going on.
>I had a whole month of potential creative and community building energy stripped from me for the sake of this company’s profits. That shit ain’t cool.
A "whole" month of your "potential creative and community building energy"? Really? I have LOTS of months where I don't get to focus ANY time on any sort of creative or community building endeavors because I have other things that need to be taken care of.
I do not condone what he experienced at his workplace and that's terrible that it happened. However, his tone in the article and apparent prejudice towards white people makes it difficult for me to summon a lot of nice things to say.
There are several definitions of racist talk, one is essentially "making references to someone's race and implying everyone in that group is the same (in some attribute)". Lots of people like this definition because it's nice and simple and it means black people in the USA can be racist to white people if they say things like "Dumbwhite".
It's rather illegal for an employer to be racist in their workplace.
Yes, I'd rather there were a better whistleblower than this guy. You seldom get things to align perfectly.
By the way, the law works through deterrence.
Say this is a douchebag workplace mistreating a douchebag employee, and they get punished.
Now they serve as example to the next douchebag workplace, who hesitate before mistreating their employee, who may not be a douchebag.
Now say you found out the victim was himself a serial arsonist who had burned down other houses. Do you still feel as bad for him?
In my opinion there is no difference between that story and this one. A racist man is angry that another racist man made racist comments toward him.
I didn't see it as me being racist, just as retaliation.
But then again, I didn't see the other guy as racist, just as an asshole.
I was eccentric and the mean kids wanted to pick on me.
I assumed that their basic motivation was malice, so had I been white (so they couldn't use mild racial slurs against me) they'd just have found something else nasty to say.
I put that into a separate category than racist, which to me meant something like the members of the KKK or the Nazi party.
Is this a false distinction?
I get the same vibe about the mentioned workplace, like it's a bunch of jock assholes (and definitely meets the definitions of "hostility" and "harassment", for what it's worth).