Your very thoughtful piece so reminded of this tweet from Anil Dash yesterday.
I love Medium and I feel lucky to have landed a gig at a major Silicon Valley tech company, but I’d be lying if I said it felt normal and I’d be lying if I said it felt like Silicon Valley is meaningfully invested in black lives at all.
Just like you pointed out in your piece, in tech, everyone is vocally invested in diversity and inclusion. But it’s easy to voice your commitment at a college recruitment event or a flashy panel ( while wearing a “Stay Woke” tee shirt no less.) What’s harder is actually standing for black lives and actually demanding that black lives be valued. What difference does it make if you recruit and hire XXX amount of black talent if they’re going to be senselessly killed by police in the streets of rapidly gentrifying San Francisco when they arrive?
It seems like everyone in tech has plans to “disrupt” something. Well who is going to disrupt our broken criminal justice system? Who is going to use technology to make it safer to be a black body in America? If technology is so powerful, why aren’t our greatest tech minds using it to tackle such a pressing problem?
One of your responses said something about it not being Silicon Valley’s job to “fix” our policing system and I don’t agree at all. Black and brown young people have been the lifeblood of digital since its inception. Where would Twitter be without its black users? Or Vine? Or Instagram? We use those technologies more than our white counterparts and it’s our creativity that make them at all interesting to use in the first place. Tech companies are happy to commodify black ideas, black creativity, and black talent yet stay silent when it comes to the slaughter of black bodies.
Having been schooled in North Carolina, I was proud to watch major companies like Facebook, Apple, and Google refuse to do business in the state over the discriminatory HB2 legislation. What would it look like, I wonder, if the companies that made so much money off of black folks stood up for black lives? What would it look like if they rode for us the way we ride for them?