October 18th, 2015
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Corporations that practice Colorless Diversity do not see lack of racial diversity and representation as an important problem to be solved. To bring up racial diversity is to invite a discussion on model minorities (“Look, we have Asians!”) and have the subject be dismissed. The “women’s issue,” on the other hand, is urgent. As a result of familial bonds and their savior complex driven need to rescue the damsel in distress, the white-male employees of the white-male dominated industry have learned to empathize with the struggles of their women in tech. How frequently we hear the refrain “well I had a daughter/wife/sister and suddenly I realized that I didn’t want them to have to experience the problems in the tech industry, so I want to fix the problems.” The beeping sound you hear is the dump truck of cash backing up to every organization that even slightly aligns themselves with the cause of women in technology. Practitioners of Colorless Diversity follow suit, focusing attention on fixing the problems for women. Rarely, though, will you ever hear a white person lamenting about working conditions that their black/brown child/spouse/sibling might have to endure, because they rarely have those relationships, so aren’t forced to develop empathy for brown/black people. For these folks, anything to do with improving the environment for black/brown people or increasing the number of brown/black people they hire is about PR. Colorless Diversity is ok with spending tens of millions of dollars on conferences, summits, retreats, and outreach for and about (white) women, but finds it distasteful when one points out the disparity in spending for people of color. Colorless Diversity would have black/brown people sit down and wait their turn.
While making lots of noise about all male panels, they rarely, if ever, make a fuss about, let alone refuse to sit on a panel that doesn’t include brown/black women.
Let me be clear in stating that I am not writing this because I think it’s bad that companies are spending money on diversity programs for women. That is needed and necessary. I write this because while they are spending huge amounts of money on women in tech, they aren’t spending equally on people of color in tech. The little money they ARE spending isn’t focused on celebrating or including the people of color in tech, it’s aimed at kids of color who might never be interested in this industry, as though the people of color already in the industry are a lost cause. I also write this because of late, I’ve noticed a bit of an issue: (white) women seem to be satisfied with the state of Colorless Diversity in the tech industry. Things are Changing. Money is being spent. Numbers are improving. This is Good. They rarely, if ever, speak about the dearth of black/brown women at events aimed at women. While making lots of noise about all male panels, they rarely, if ever, make a fuss about, let alone refuse to sit on a panel that doesn’t include brown/black women. They rarely, if ever, make the decision to cede the privileges, power, or space granted to them by dent of their whiteness to a person of color. I cannot blame the (white) women for this. They were raised in a society built on white supremacy. But so was I, and I know what it looks like, and I know better.