Is the Tech Industry Racist? (INFOGRAPHIC)

A tech meet up in Silicon Valley

I just did an interview with the Broadband and Social Justice asking my opinion on an infographic (below) created by an online degree company which seemingly makes the claim that the tech industry is racist.

I don’t want to give away too much of what I told the site, published by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, but I think these stats and facts when collected and amalgamated in an infographic format like this miss the opportunity to dissect the reasons behind the disparities and to look for solutions to alter the reality.

Of course, there must first be an acknowledgment that there is distinguishing underrepresentation of Blacks and Hispanics in this industry, whether by cause or fault of several historical, collateral and quasi-related circumstances or by design.

Notwithstanding all of that, taken alone, an infographic like this one can easily inflame racial tensions and  lead to finger pointing and blame.

None of that will get us anywhere.

Instead, it could and should be used as a starting point for dialogue on how to expand diversity in the tech and IT field. Possible solutions

  • include more partnerships with tech and coding academies, incubators and companies with inner city, urban and high-minority population schools
  • tech companies’ outreach and creation of externships, fellowships, apprenticeships and internships to target underrepresentated groups and HBCUs, for example.
  • enhanced teacher training in tech so they integrate it into their curriculum,
  • partnerships with private software, computer and app companies to get more technology in schools with limited funding
  • more emphasis on science, technology engineering and math (STEM) courses from elementary through college, including female-only classes so that girls don’t feel overwhelmed and afraid to do well in these fields; and
  •  and a concerted effort to outreach to, and teach young entrepreneurs that a career in tech is not limited to their knowledge of coding alone.

What are your thoughts?

Tech is Racist
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OH WELL FOR POST-RACIAL AMERICA! Yahoo! story about Black Farmer settlement sets off thousands of racist comments

So much for the so-called “post racial” president and post-racial America!

Yahoo!  News published a story about the settlement award for the black farmers and has caused quite a bit of stir. At this posting, there have been nearly 7,000 comments and most of them BLATANTLY RACIST! (seriously has Yahoo! News ever gotten that many comments on any other story in its history?)

In a nutshell, the comments say that blacks are mainly on welfare or government dependents , or doing drugs, or selling drug, or eating fried chicken.  They say blacks are lazy, winers, cry babies who want entitlement and would rather steal or collect government benefits than work for a living.  They say that  despite years of advancement and other programs like Affirmative Action to help them out, they still work less hard than whites, and are overwhelmingly represented in jails. They say blacks do worse compared to whites in many areas and it is their own doing because they are lazy spendthrifts who can’t think for themselves or save money.  They say blacks are frauds and thieves trying to swindle the government of money making fraudulent claims.  They say the whole settlement is a farce because blacks don’t farm and there is no such thing as a black farmer – Why? Because they’ve never seen a black farmer in their life.  Blacks are playing cards in the ghetto, making babies and doing nothing for the betterment of society.  They say the black farmers who receive any benefits will waste their money away on drugs and fried chicken, anyway.  They ask where is their money for being good whites who’ve also suffered at some point in their lives yet don’t get compensated. They work hard to make a living while the blacks sit back and wait for the government to provide for their every need.

It wasn’t strung along like that but that sentiment was in several posts.

If you don’t believe me, you can READ the comments to the YAHOO! STORY HERE!

If the farmers who got the settlement were not black, but white farmers who were wrongly denied their benefits for some other equally wrong reason, would there be the same backlash and outcry? I dare say not. As a matter of fact, over the course of the history of the USDA and the government, they most likely have paid out back owed money to private citizens in a sum surpassing this settlement’s payout.  It was recently  reported that the US government owes Capitol Hill workers $9.3 million. You would hardly hear any of similar types of outcry against payments to that group, and not just because the refunds will go to people of various races.

This case is unique because it is a class action law suit that has gotten lot of media attention not to mention undue political tug-of-warring, making it more elevated in the minds of the average frustrated American than most other cases.  And it has a lot to do with what the race is of the president in office at the time of the final award. Because it is the same race as the recipients of the payments,  many people are up in arms!  Yes, they may have been still irate had the money been funded under Bush but not to the extent as in this case.  This is why the president has been wary about addressing black problems head on.  Doing so would release the fury of people who will not let him take up for blacks.  If he were to respond to a “black” problem, many would certainly call him a racist  for pandering to his own race.  Never mind that there are instances in the past when 100% of beneficiaries of a government settlement have been white.

Despite the fact that the discrimination being redressed occurred between 1981 and 1996 , many people cannot help but refer to the payment as slavery reparations — including Rep  Steve King (R-IA) who has been outspoken about his opposition to the payout for the settlement.  It’s beyond my comprehension why he and others would choose to ignore obvious evidence of racism and spin the settlements this way. There are lots of fact finders who reviewed the evidence and came to the decision.  They ignore the fact that people who would be qualified for payments had their applications thrown in the trash simply because of their skin color. Ignore all the evidence and focus on what they want to think in their own minds.  Just make up facts, distort and/or ignore  history. It all sounds like they think that racism is a part of life that people of color should come to expect and should not ask for any redressing, even if it came at the hands of the government less than 20 years ago.

If anyone were to read the comments to that post, they’d believe America was a country full of bigots.

I suppose the timing of the settlement is  part of the cause as it comes at a time when many are out of work, frustrated with the government, unhappy with the current administration and are more than happy to scapegoat whatever group they feel is part of or contributing to their miserableness.

It doesn’t help that the government will be paying out the 1.15 billion dollar settlement at a time the country is suffering under a 1.3 Trillion dollar budget deficit and there is more and more push to cut spending!

This settlement has got to be one of the worst examples of “bad timing” if I’ve ever seen one.

Still, I find it appalling the language and HATE coming from these commentators. It is inexcusable.

Yahoo! News, knowingly or unwittingly, stoked the fire with its headline: Obama to sign historic settlement to black farmers.

All it did was make a group of people who may be unhappy with the man over his politics turn to race and other hate filled rhetoric to express their frustration.  It’s a default reaction to attack race and resort to using unfair stereotypes when facing a reality that you don’t like. It’s a lazy, cowardly and unintelligent  reaction too.

But it’s a knee jerk reflex reaction because race is one of those sensitive topics.  Many people of color, particularly, blacks suffer so much real overt and covert, objective and subjective racism in their lives that many have a chip on their shoulder and will quicker see their race as a reason for someone’s action of ill towards them before some other reason.  Hence, the itchy finger on the race card trigger button for some.

Similarly so, it has gotten to the point now that more and more of those who oppose President Obama’s politics feel comfortable resorting to racist and hateful language and unfairly attacking an entire race of people that have nothing to do with whatever it is that is upsetting them.

I dare say race relations in recent years may have gotten worse under the first black president than better.  Race is more of an issue than ever before.

People are sensitive and on edge. It’s all so fragile.

I suppose  all of this is just another response to those who used to say two years ago that NOW that we have a black president, all is well.  America is post-racial  and we will all start thinking of one another in color-blind terms.

I never believed that for one second!

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