Isn’t it ironic that the founder and organizer of Black Founders is saying that she’s sick of the diversity in tech talks?
Here’s a couple of scenarios that’s happened over the past couple of weeks.
- I participate in the Launch hackathon. As the hackathon is ending, the Launch conference begins and opens up with a Diversity In Tech discussion. As the only black female participant in the hackathon, my coding is interrupted a couple of times to ask if and why I’m not going to to the Diversity In Tech discussion.
- This weekend I volunteered and mentored at the Black Founders Railsbridge workshop. Last week, this was posted on Hacker News, Any black women founders out there? What’s your story? During the workshop, I received an email asking for my thoughts on the hacker news post.
- This morning, I see this on CNN. Black, female, and a Silicon Valley trade secret.
So, before anyone else asks me to participate on a diversity panel, write a blog post about diversity, or go listen to yet another talk about diversity. I have a few obvious statements. I am a black female developer entrepreneur. I am diversity in tech. I don’t need to talk about it anymore than its already been talked about. I don’t need to go write about it any more than its been written about. I need to “be about it.” And that’s what I and a large community of others are doing.
Being about it.
- I am a software developer, who is also black and female. For the other black || female developers out there, (and yes there are quite a few of us), let’s go beyond “Hello World”. Let’s build up our software acumen with a focus on being a good developer, and not a good black || female developer. I don’t know any developers who aim for the latter, but I know a few developers who end up there. The tech community is thirsty and wants the diversity monkey off its back, so its eager and has thrown accolades to black || female while lowering the bar for good. Please be careful on which accolades you accept and always continue to better your craft. On the flipside, if you know your sh*t, then fight for your accolades. The tech community can be very good ol’ boyish, and sometimes has a hard time identifying good when it doesn’t look (white || asian) && male. This has been my personal path of being/becoming a good software developer. This is me being about it. But the more of us we have knowing our sh*t, and receiving the appropriate accolades, the better. This is us being about it. It is also us changing the landscape for those who come after.
- I am entrepreneur, who is black and female. (see section above and replace ‘developer’ with ‘entrepreneur’)
- I am founder of Black Founders, an organization with a diversity based mission. In the past two years, Black Founders has organized only only one talk/panel about diversity in tech. In comparison to the 50 other workshops/conferences focused on learning, mentoring, and expansion of your network. This is another way how I’ve chosen to “be about it”. Everyone doesn’t have to launch their own organization, but consider supporting organizations like mine or others with your time by volunteering, mentoring, teaching, or donating money. This is all of us being about it to help fix “the pipeline”. (Note: you don’t need to be a minority to attend or participate in diverse organizations’ events. See Black Founders is for White People)
- I am not a blogger or writer. I really hate blogging, hence the long time gaps in between posts. But this “being about it” tip is for the bloggers and writers. So, its pretty obvious that diversity in tech is a problem. Instead of writing another story about the problem, consider writing a story that leads to the solution. Put some shine on the work that’s being done. Work with organizations like mine and others to find entrepreneurs to highlight in your posts. Share their story and or startup on your platform. Completely avoid the diversity angle of the story. Just tell their story and add their picture. We need more of these stories outside of diversity media platforms. Media and bloggers have a huge part to play in changing the tech landscape. We all know that we have hidden biases surrounding race and gender. The media and bloggers can help challenge our hidden biases by covering stories we don’t traditionally see. In the future, with hope, a post about “where are the black female entrepreneurs?” would seem silly, because everyone will know of many.
In conclusion, I am sick of seeing and hearing diversity in tech talks. I know some talk is necessary, but at this stage we should be beyond talking about. And as for my example scenarios above, I really didn’t have the time to participate in the diversity in tech talks or posts because I was being it.
(note: please don’t take my tone in this post as anger…only passion)