We’re so full of white there are no jobs

So Apple rounded out the big tech companies last week with a report that basically says all our stereotypes are true: white dudes run the show and Asians are really good at math.

Remember, stereotypes don’t just appear out of nowhere, they are, technically, derived from observed conventions.

This is a complicated problem. For penis-toting white people you’re born, you go to school, get a computer for Christmas, and totally geek out and get a job later on doing geeky things.

For penis-toting black people, you go to school, maybe you sit at a computer a little bit, you probably can’t afford a computer or a very good one, or Internet access, so you go do something else.

For women it’s a whole host of different issues. We know the arguments there, and frankly, I just don’t have enough information to speak about them. I’m inclined to believe that maybe women just aren’t, in mass, as interested in technology. Women also aren’t that interested in hunting, fishing, race car driving, farting, and whittling canoes from dead trees, but no one’s stopping them from doing those things. Men generally don’t like massages, perfume, or anal sex, but no one’s stopping them or trying to push them into that, either. Insert your own gay joke here. Then call yourself a bigot.

But back to the black and white dudes with computers. The difference in these two upbringings is that one kid almost certainly went to a school with things like air conditioners and computers. I kid you not, there are schools within Indianapolis that do not have air conditioning. Computers are also not high on that list. I do not know where the seemingly endless stream of grant dollars for these things are going, but they’re not getting to the kids.

So in 20 years time you do not get to scratch your head in bewilderment why there are no black people in big tech companies.

Our national response to this is to pressure these companies to find black people and hire them. Ditto for women and anyone to “dillute” that pack of white sausages.

I’m all for the diversity of things. You get better products and it’s obvious we have been since women have taken a more active roll in the workplace. We’ve all seen how much better Sterling Cooper is with Peggy. It’s good for everyone. Just as it is for getting different opinions and thoughts from different backgrounds.

Years ago when I was working for the State there was this push for digitizing court forms. Great idea, “Except it won’t work,” I said. “Too many people out in the rest of Indiana do not have access to good enough Internet for this. They don’t have computers or the ability to get to one. There are all of 6 public computers in all of Washington County. Three of them are for Workforce Development only.” You can’t just “eliminate the paper” because until a couple more generations die off and we push for broadband everywhere, we will have this problem. I was the only one to fight this battle because I was the only person who had spent more than 6 minutes outside of Indianapolis.

But we can’t get mad at Apple for this, or Google or Facebook or any other company. It’s not their fault the pool of people to hire from is lousy with white dudes. They didn’t create that world — society did. Or, more aptly, the government. And now the government and society want them to fix it.

Does anyone believe for a second that Apple, with more money than God, would hire for a position and say, “Well, that woman is really awesome, but let’s go with the guy.” I don’t believe that. I don’t believe anyone at any of the big tech companies hire based on anything but what you’ve done and what you can do.

Turns out, though, if you can’t do much, or don’t do much, you don’t get the job. This isn’t a country club where there’s some sign out front saying “No black people” or “No girls allowed”.

But like my last post, this comes down to personal responsibility. You can, in big cities, get on a bus and go to the library and take a book about HTML out and read it. It’ll cost you $1.75. I’ll even give you the money for it if you want. That’s how most everyone working in tech today got started — no degree required.

But we do have a societal responsibility to take in kids, help younger generations learn ever more complicated code and languages and techniques, and to ensure schools get real money to spend on real equipment. We have a responsbility to treat people with respect and dignity, to understand hardship, and to punish people for their racism and bias. Even in 2014 we need laws to protect people in clearly segregated places, but I don’t think Facebook is the bad guy (at least this time, anyway). We do not have a responsibility to hire to fill some peer-pressured feel-good numbers quotient.

 

Thoughts on race, class, and WTF is wrong with people

A new Wal-Mart Marketplace just opened up across the street from me. If you look at the Judgmental Map of Indianapolis, you can see that I live in an area called “Laid Back Black People”, which for the most part is pretty accurate.

So it’s no surprise that the majority of the people working in this store are black. The manager is black, the cashiers are black. Some of the store workers are white, but most are black.

They wear these ugly pastel green-ish colored shirts to signify their employment. On opening day, when I needed a bag of chips to go along with a sandwich, I walked in and immediately noticed one thing: they were all wearing large and extra large shirts. They were incredibly ill-fitting. It struck me as sloppy, unkempt, and tasteless.

“Don’t get worked up, Justin. There’s a culture, there’s a style, it’s just their thing. Like kids with those dorky Bieber style haircuts that make boys look like lesbians,” I said to myself.

I get that if you’re poor new clothing is not at the top of the list of expenditures. It may look old, dated, or not “new”. That’s fine — totally just doing what’s best for you. I don’t shop at Hollister either. But see, clothing has these little labels. They have sizes. And stores, even Goodwill, has lots of clothes in lots of sizes. So no matter what your race, I do not understand people who wear t-shirts that are two sizes too large.

If you were wearing a suit it’s the difference in saying to the world, “I have a career” and “I have a court date” with a bunch of wrinkled jeans and baggy shoulders. Maybe that’s “white culture”, but I think any rational look would point to that being “having gainful employment”. There are rules and we have to play by them. I don’t like wearing a suit, but if I wanted a job in a downtown tower making $90,000 a year, I’d get a damn suit that fit and made me look like I give a damn, even if I didn’t.

But there are a lot of things I can’t wrap my brain around. Things like why people smoke, drink in excess, or Lady Gaga.

If you’re under the age of 35 and you smoke, I can’t understand why. I will never understand why. Because it seems incredibly straightforward to me that you have received immense amounts of education and understanding about smoking and yet you still do it. As a result I will probably look down upon you in some way. I just do. I don’t think there should be any laws against smoking, you can do whatever you want, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have opinions.

It’s like if you have a tattoo of a spider on your face, it will probably impact my opinions about you in whether I do business with you, talk to you, hire you, etc. People with tattoos of spiders on their face do not get to be in the boardroom. Well, you may be cleaning the boardroom after everyone else has left, but you will not be running the room. Sure, there’s probably some hipster indie bullshit shop out there where you can prove me wrong, but the CEOs of America’s biggest companies do not have a spider on their face.

But there have been a few things that have been bugging me lately all in light of recent Ferguson, MO developments. They deal with race, class, and just not understanding people. I was curious whether black people commit murder at a higher rate than white people or other races. Turns out, they totally do:

The department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics report offers a snapshot of racial disparities among violent crime victims. Black people represented an estimated 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2005, the latest data available, but were the victims of 49 percent of all murders and 15 percent of rapes, assaults and other nonfatal violent crimes nationwide. Most of the black murder victims — 93 percent — were killed by other black people, the study found. About 85 percent of white victims were slain by other white people

So white people commit more murders because, obviously, there are more white people. But per capita, black communities clearly have a problem. And this is what white people just can’t understand. Those of us not committing murder just can’t wrap our brains around this.

It’s like a little kid who is about to touch a hot stove. “Don’t touch it, it’s hot,” you say but the kid does it anyway. “Don’t murder people, that’s not cool,” you say, but there people go. I don’t get it — no amount of poverty or discrimination makes me think that murder is ever the way to go.

I’m a gay man, so I’m aware of cultural discrimination. I just shut up about it. I don’t have to walk into a meeting and say, “Hey I’m Justin, gay, and here to help you with your website.” Doesn’t really work that way, and it doesn’t matter. Yes, I get that black people are visibly black, but a lot of gay men are clearly gay, so it’s not all lost.

It’s the label we’re all hung up on, partly because the government and everyone else is so fixated on “getting numbers” about literally everything. Point is I just don’t think you can “explain away” the violent crimes that are committed in the black community.

Black people totally get the short end of the stick on a lot of things. I get that economic opportunities are lower, pay is lower, stereotypes are rough to shake, the police aren’t really on your side, probably because it’s hard to get a good education and get a break. But you can’t tell me you had to commit murder today because you had to eat.

And when situations like Ferguson happen and we see looting and theft and battery and assaults, I hope to goodness it’s just bad reporting. That it’s a media bias covering a store not in a biased way, but because it’s happening, and the looting and rampaging is just part of the story that trumps the peaceful protests.

But there are some things that just don’t translate. So looting happens in Ferguson, but I think we can all agree that absolutely would not ever happen in Carmel in any circumstance except nuclear holocaust. “Oh, well, there’s a big income disparity.” Okay, so looting happens in Ferguson, but can anyone honestly say that would happen under similar circumstances in Salem, Indiana? In Shelbyville? Maybe?

It’s as if the logic is straight from middle school. “I’m mad at my teacher so I’m going to go break this window at the hardware store.”

It just seems very simple to me, and I think most of us, no matter where we grew up. Indianapolis’ crime problem (and any inner-city) has always puzzled me because compared to my upbringing, I’m just sorta flabbergasted. There are museums, libraries filled with literally everything, and things to do a bus ride away. $1.75 gets you from 30th street to downtown. In Salem I remember playing with sticks. There was no library for my taxing district, there was no transportation, and there were no people around to play with.

People in rural communities have just as much trouble with meth and drugs (my old neighbor holds the record for Indiana’s largest marijuana growing operation bust) and lack of parents and access to higher education as anyone in Ferguson, and to my knowledge there’s never been any looting in Salem.

I have no idea how to fix any of these problems. I almost believe you, me, or “the government” can’t fix them. It seems apparently entirely cultural — for the majority and the minority — but that could be part of the solution. Stop referring to people in groups and just call them “people”. No more “black”, “Mexican”, “white”, or “gay” labels. Just people.

The rest is on you as an individual. The police are just there to protect private property. And I imagine if there were a riot outside my house or even down the street from my house or business I’d want the police to exercise every imaginable bit of reasonable force to keep my stuff safe, because that’s what the government is there for.

We’ll have to see how the investigation shakes out and whether the police were inept or wrong, but it doesn’t excuse the actions of a lot of people, white and black.

Unicorns and Racists

Scott Adams has an interesting piece up titled “Unicorns and Stuff“, where he says in part:

I think there was a time in our history when intelligent people could be racist because the anecdotal evidence was ambiguous. Today, I’m almost positive that no one watches Oprah, eats a potato chip, and thinks, “I wonder if African-Americans can succeed?”

I wonder what kind of boss hires a less qualified white candidate over a more qualified black candidate and thinks that his decision will work out well for him. I make fun of management intelligence for a living, and even I haven’t seen that behavior. I’ve never even heard of it from someone else who witnessed it. I certainly understand if you’ve witnessed it, or suffered from it. I’m just saying I haven’t seen it where I live. Clearly that sort of activity is distributed unevenly around the country.

He goes on to say that he doesn’t doubt people experience or see racism (or your unacceptable behavior of choice), just that he’s never seen it.

I can recall many racist stories growing up in Salem. My grandfather always claimed “you could smell” a black person. Other family members have said we should lock our doors because “a big black man might just come in.” Some of the older members of my family have referred to people on TV, usually the local news or something, as “that black weatherman” or “that black reporter”. In those instances I never got the impression they were saying that to be insensitive, it was just a way of describing that one person out of the five or six white people. It’d be like looking at a crowd of people and telling your friend to take a look at someone’s sign or funny shirt or neat shoes. They might ask, “Which one?” and you reply, “The fat one.” It’s rude, yes, but in private, people do it all the time because it’s sometimes the easiest way of picking people out.

I remember hearing from older people when a group of Klan members hung a black man off the South Main Street bridge in Salem as recently as the 60’s. I can recall, in my lifetime, seeing a sign propped up along Highway 60 southeast of Salem that was spray painted to read, “Black people go away.”

I can remember the one black kid who came to my high school. His Dad just got a job in town, doing what I have no clue, but they moved up from Louisville. The kid was there for about 3 days before they packed up and left town. The kid left after a group of younger students hung a noose on his locker. There was no proof who did it, but everyone knew who it was. I assume his parents didn’t get the impression they were welcome, either.

The kids that hung the noose were the same group of kids that were dumb, racist, homophobic, misogynistic and they knew it and they didn’t care. Their parents were no doubt the same way and for them and a lot of people I’ve met, it was a point of family pride. These are the kind of people that hang the Confederate flag on the back of their truck and it’s as a call-to-arms. I can kinda get why a person in the deep south might hang the Confederate flag, as a way of remembering their great, great, great grandfather or something, but when people in Salem do it, they mean to say, “This is a white, Christian, country town and that’s the way it’s going to stay.”

I’ve met people that even if they had to work with or spend a considerable amount of time with a black person, they’d still never change their mind. People’s minds seldom change about anything, especially these deeply-held beliefs. They come from their parents, usually, and they stay that way.

This is, in my estimation, the biggest disadvantage of our representative democracy: people come out of those kinds of people and get to run an office. That’s dangerous.

My own dad is a quasi-birther, I think. I’ve heard him remark that he’s probably not supposed to be President and he no doubt picked that up from somewhere because he’s completely insular. He doesn’t watch the news of any kind or get online. He gets the local newspaper and skims the headlines. To my knowledge, that story hasn’t made it into the paper. The birther movement happens when you get a group of people together that distrust black people. That all black people are dangerous and therefore, Obama is dangerous, thus we must remove him.

And don’t pretend I’m painting everyone in Salem or Southern Indiana as a racist because I don’t mean to, they’re plenty of wonderful people there. But whenever I hear people claim that racists or misogynists or homophobes or whoever don’t really exist anymore, I have a very hard time agreeing.

Bankrupting the KY KKK

I just came across this story on CNN titled “Lawsuit Seeks to Bankrupt the Ku Klux Klan“. Since it’s a real wizz-dinger of a story, let me highlight some of the best parts:

  • KKK Members in Kentucky beat a 16 year old boy with brown skin at a fair in Meade County. That’s in the Louisville metro area.
  • A lawsuit seeking $6 million has been filed to permanently bankrupt the Klan.
  • Previous lawsuits in Idaho and Alabama have been successful against the Klan.
  • The Klan members are representing themselves in court. Stay Classy!
  • The Klan webmaster settled out of court. I know, who thought the Klan would have a website?
  • One defendant told NBC’s WAVE 3 TV on Wednesday that he already has paid a price for something he didn’t do. He said the legal system was “corrupt,” and that he was at the trial “because the law told me.” The story also mentions (because, evidently it’s important to note here) that he lives in a trailer in rural Kentucky.
  • To protest his being sued, he demonstrated his contempt for the lawsuit by tattooing a “profane reference” to it on his freshly shaved head.
So, allow me to summarize: A couple of dickhead hicks from rural eastern Kentucky wandered into the orbit of a city and beat up a brown kid. Then, when they learn about their pending lawsuit, one guy runs back to his shitty trailer and does what any normal person would do: he shaves his head and tattoos naughty words on his skull. Maybe he thought the ink would seep into his brain.
Then, when “The Law” shows up at his door to tell him to go to court, he goes only because he has to. Then, decides, “Meh. I’ve got this.” and decides to represent himself in court. Probably while humming shit-kicker country songs in his hollow head and supporting the latest Tim McGraw scented cologne.
I can assure you this man was a McCain supporter and will now have plenty of time to think about, and masturbate to, Sarah Palin when he goes to jail. Hopefully he’ll bunk with a big scary black man.