Tag Archives: Diversity

The Last Black Engineer at Twitter…

One of the problems with the social media job sites is that they encourage you to post a picture. People who want to discriminate on age, race, or ethnicity easily can do so. This facilitates job discrimination, which by the statistics is common in a number of industries, and epidemic in terms of age discrimination. I suggest taking down your pic (and let’s not even go into having an open Facebook) to make that discrimination a bit harder, and to eliminate any connection to any group which might identify your ethnicity. It won’t fix the Dayvonwon, and Tramaninanisha problem…But it helps.

The other hurdle is the automated resume readers used by recruiters. I worked for GE a number of years ago, where nearly everyone in management went by the title “Manager”. A Manager in GE terms could be a guy who managed 5 floor sweepers in the office at night – or a guy with 28,000 reports and responsibility for a billion dollar manufacturing business. An automated resume checker looking for “keywords” can (and usually does) miss that. Further with the explosion of job titles, and the fact that in small companies on manager can wear a lot of hats makes the job search really an exercise in listing keywords, and not qualifications. Some years ago, just to screw the system, I searched out the keywords and phrases utilized by the brain-dead tools, and listed them all alphabetically as the last page of my resume. Dozens of calls a day, about 80% for jobs at 1/2 or less of my salary from the HR autobots who hadn’t bothered to read the resume, or if they did, had no idea what was being said. Not a loss – because any company utilizing this sort of tool to recruit executive level candidates, is so effed up even if you take the job – the problems are so massive, you can’t fix it.

Lastly, the problem with the West Coast companies in terms of hiring qualified black engineers and managers is twofold. One, the tend to hire from each other, meaning the same group of mostly white and Asian folks just circulate, and two – due to re-segregation legislation like Prop 209 in California…There are very few black or Hispanic graduates in the STEM Field on the West Coast. The are, however plenty graduating from universities on the East Coast, which wasn’t infected by that Ward Connerly racism disease. Second issue is getting those grads to move to the “left coast”, into a corporate and community environment which may be hostile. Not saying there is hostility – but I’m just sayin’ most black folks feel a little more comfortable, when there are more black folks walking around than would commonly be found on the streets of Sydney Australia. Especially when you consider that the majority of black STEM degree holders are coming from HBCUs.

Here is the case of Twitter…Which I would estimate derives about 30-40% of their Tweets from black folks.

Top Black Engineer Blasts Twitter’s Lack Of Diversity

The company no longer has any African-Americans in engineering leadership positions, the former Twitter employee says.

Twitter say it’s committed to creating a more diverse workforce, but, like the rest of the tech industry, it has yet to succeed. This week, a former employee offered a glimpse into the beleaguered microblogging company’s struggle to be more inclusive.

“With my departure, Twitter no longer has any managers, directors, or VP’s of color in engineering or product management,” Twitter Engineering Manager Leslie Miley wrote on Medium on Tuesday. Miley was among those laid off from the company in October, although he made clear his intention to leave before the company announced the cuts, according toTechCrunch.

Elaborating about his time as one of Twitter’s few black engineers, Miley critiqued the company for failing to push back against unconscious bias as it seeped into hiring practices and culture:

Personally, a particularly low moment was having my question about what specific steps Twitter engineering was taking to increase diversity answered by the Sr. VP of Eng at the quarterly Engineering Leadership meeting. When he responded with “diversity is important, but we can’t lower the bar.” I then realized I was the only African-American in Eng leadership.

There are few African-American or Latino employees in any part of the company — and none at the top, according to the company’s own diversity data, released in August.

This, however, is not just a Twitter problem. It’s a tech industry problem, as Miley noted in a separate post, written earlier in October, about diversity in his field. Miley presents a theory as to why this is the case: It’s about pattern matching. Successful people think future successful people are going to look like them (or the people they see around them). When a company hires for a specific pattern, it’s not a surprise that everyone begins to look the same.

This is why Miley thinks that younger tech companies are actually less diverse than the older companies. From Miley’s post:

This shows up in recruiting organizations targeting specific schools, employee referrals, and promotions of like minded individuals. Yahoo > Google > LinkedIn > FaceBook > Twitter. After Yahoo each of these companies’ diversity numbers have been worse than the company that followed them. I believe this is because Google recruited from Yahoo, LinkedIn from Google, and so on. Each subsequent company becomes less diverse due to the sub-conscious amplification of educational, cultural and work history biases.

Twitter, meanwhile, is sticking to its diversity commitment….More here



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Posted by on November 4, 2015 in The New Jim Crow


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The Importance of Black Teachers

And this isn’t just because HBCUs generated nearly 10 percent of all Black STEM doctoral degree recipients. Black kids do better in school with the presence of black teachers...

But… White kids need them too!

Why Schools Need More Teachers of Color—for White Students

Noah Caruso, 17, calls South Philadelphia home. Known for cheesesteaks, pizza, and bakeries, South Philly is a close-knit, largely Italian American neighborhood where much of the population has traditionally shared the same background, culture, and race. Though an influx of immigrants has made the area more diverse in recent decades, South Philly, like the rest of the city, remains highly segregated. Caruso’s predominantly white community was echoed at his middle school, Christopher Columbus Charter School, where he says all of his teachers were white like him, as were virtually all of his classmates. It was against this backdrop that Caruso enrolled in Science Leadership Academy (SLA)—a public magnet high school in the city—and landed in the freshman English class of Matthew Kay, his first black teacher.

Now a rising senior, Caruso looks back with appreciation on his ninth-grade year in Kay’s class. “He’s the most inspiring teacher I ever had by far,” Caruso said, recalling Kay’s emphasis and commentary on fraught topics such as present-day racism. “He definitely pushed us to really think about these social issues [that] weren’t talked about before in my life because everyone grew up in the same area,” he continued. “We were all white … and everyone had the same opinion.” Caruso recalled a class in which Kay had students watch a scene from American History X, a graphic 1998 film about neo-Nazis and white supremacy in America. The teacher, Caruso noted, didn’t hold back in expressing his perspective on the persistence of prejudice in the country. It was one of many discussions with Kay that Caruso said opened his eyes “to all of these things I never even thought about before … It inspired me to want to do something about it.”

The importance of recruiting and retaining more teachers of color for students of color is well-reported and deeply researched. Most teachers—over 80 percent—are white, and surveys suggest that won’t change anytime soon. Among the ACT-tested graduates in 2014 who said they planned on pursuing an education major,72 percent were white, compared to 56 percent of all tested students. Yet nonwhite children are now believed to make up a majority of the country’s public-school population. Studies show that, academically, nonwhite teachers produce more favorable outcomes for students of similar backgrounds; emotionally and socially, these educators serve as role models who share students’ racial and ethnic identity. What hasn’t gotten much attention, however, are the potential gains for white students.

The call for more teachers of color has grown more urgent in recent years because of America’s changing demographics. In an increasingly multiracial, multicultural society, some education experts question the impact on white students’ world views when the face of teaching almost always mirrors their own. Gloria Ladson-Billings, an African American professor of urban education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, broached this subject in a recent essay forEducation Week responding to the apparent decline in nonwhite teachers—what some observers have described as a “disappearance crisis.” “I want to suggest that there is something that may be even more important than black students having black teachers and that is white students having black teachers! It is important for white students to encounter black people who are knowledgeable,” she wrote. “What opportunities do white students have to see and experience black competence?”

In public schools, where roughly 90 percent of the country’s children are enrolled, the lessons students learn are often skewed because of who is delivering the instruction and what kind of curricula and learning materials that instruction entails. Not only is the vast majority of the country’s teaching force white, but Eurocentric attitudes also tend to filter into classrooms. Some scholars, including the Temple University African American studies professor Ama Mazama, even attribute the notable rise in homeschooling among black families in part to the predominance of Eurocentric school curricula and teacher perspectives. American children’s literature is also often limited to white characters and narratives

The societal advantages of more teachers of color become clearer when considering the racial socialization—or the processes by which people develop their ethnic identities—of white adults, including the parents who may stumble in communicating racial understanding to their children. A Public Religion Research Institute study on “American Values” circulated last summer, following the shooting in Ferguson, showed that 75 percent of white Americans have all-white social networks. This self-segregation could help explain the racial divide over Michael Brown’s death and why it was seemingly so hard for many whites to understand what transpired in Ferguson: Their worldview was restricted to mostly white friends and family. And in a 2014 study researchers found that “the messages that white teens received [from parents regarding race] were contradictory and incomplete,” concluding that schools are a crucial link in building “productive and genuine relationships” between whites and people of color…

Of course, integrated and diverse student bodies are just as important as interracial student-teacher pairings when it comes to building a more racially literate generation. Greta Haskell, another student at SLA, where thedemographics closely reflect those of Philadelphia, said learning alongside students of color helps actualize the new perspectives she gains from nonwhite teachers. Last December, Haskell participated in a “die-in” at SLA to protest the non-indictment in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases. “If I went off to college [as a white student] and didn’t know how to interact with [people not like me] I wouldn’t feel prepared,” Haskell said.

 The racial composition makes the school a place where students “listen to each other and absorb what the other students are saying and make sense of it,” said Larissa Pahomov, an SLA teacher of color who serves on the school’s diversity committee. And according to the education professor Genevieve Siegel-Hawley,white students are “more likely to have a concrete understanding of racial and social injustices” and less likely to be prejudiced when they’re immersed in racially diverse schools. Still, the push for diverse schools—which in part because of housing segregation are uncommon nationwide—typically highlights an array of benefits for students of color, rather than that for their white counterparts….(The entire article here)
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Posted by on August 10, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life


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Back to the Affirmative Action Wars…

In case you missed it the right has been reconditioning and rolling out their anti-Civil Rights crew frantically over the past several months.  One of the folks to get a shiny new paint job was Pat Buchanan – although with his vision of a white America as a precondition for continued greatness – I think he let the real cat out of the bag a little too quickly. George Will blubbering about how AA has hurt minorities… A Republican sitting a panel which dealt with discrimination gets canned – by railing against minorities… They have even have stalwart Lawn Jockeys like Larry Elder and Walter Williams de-fossilized and trotted out in a reprise of their racism shielding role for the conservative right in the 90’s.

So why all the sudden attention?

U.S. Urges Creativity by Colleges to Gain Diversity

The Obama administration on Friday urged colleges and universities to get creative in improving racial diversity at their campuses, throwing out a Bush-era interpretation of recent Supreme Courtrulings that limited affirmative action in admissions.

The new guidelines issued by the Departments of Justice and Education replaced a 2008 document that essentially warned colleges and universities against considering race at all. Instead, the guidelines focus on the wiggle room in the court decisions involving the University of Michigan, suggesting that institutions use other criteria — students’ socioeconomic profiles, residential instability, the hardships they have overcome — that are often proxies for race. Schools could even grant preferences to students from certain schools selected for, among other things, their racial composition, the new document says.

“Post-secondary institutions can voluntarily consider race to further the compelling interest of achieving diversity,” reads the 10-page guide sent to thousands of college admissions officials on Friday afternoon. In some cases, it says, “race can be outcome determinative.”

The administration issued a parallel 14-page outline on Friday for the nation’s 17,000 public school districts, explaining what government lawyers consider to be acceptable ways that educators can seek to reduce racial segregation, which has been increasing nationwide.

The two documents, issued as the presidential campaign heats up and as the Supreme Court considers whether to hear a new affirmative action case, were designed to give educators a clear administration interpretation of three high court cases that, since 2003, have limited the use of race in admissions, zoning and other school policies.

The contrast with the Bush guidelines interpreting the same three cases is stark. Where the Bush administration’s letter in 2008 states, “Quotas are impermissible,” the 2011 version says “an institution may permissibly aim to achieve a critical mass of underrepresented students.” Even in addressing the same principles, the framework is practically reversed.

Bush guidelines: “Before using race, there must be a serious good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives.”

Obama guidelines: “Institutions are not required to implement race-neutral approaches if, in their judgment, the approaches would be unworkable.”

Colleges seeking to increase diversity while not running afoul of Supreme Court guidelines, the new document says, “could select schools (including community colleges) based on their demographics (e.g., their racial or socioeconomic composition), and grant an admission preference” to graduates of those schools. They could also “select high schools for partnership” based, among other things, on “racial composition of the school’s student body” and former partnerships with historically black colleges and universities”; consider race as they select students for mentoring programs; and sponsor retention or support programs that highlight, for example, “the accomplishments of Latino business leaders.”

Ada Meloy, general counsel for the American Council on Education, which represents 1,800 universities and colleges, predicted that educators would immediately begin to pursue ways to draw more racial minorities, as the new guidelines would ease fears of legal challenge.

“University administrators have been confused about how they could follow the court’s rulings and still achieve the benefits of diversity,” Ms. Meloy said. “So they will welcome this practical, step-by-step set of directions.”

For kindergarten through 12th grade, the guidelines tell school districts that they can shape policies on locating schools, drawing attendance boundaries and governing student transfers to achieve a better racial mix. For example, a school district with two elementary schools with distinctly different demographics could consider making one school serve kindergarten through second grade and the other grades 3 to 5 in order to force a better mix.

“Diverse learning environments promote development of analytical skills, dismantle stereotypes and prepare students to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world,”Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. “The guidance announced today will aid educational institutions in their efforts to provide true equality of opportunity.”

Lee C. Bollinger, an advocate of affirmative action, was the named defendant, as president of the University of Michigan, in the two 2003 Supreme Court cases that laid down new markers on the permissible use of race in admissions. He described the new guidelines as “perfect.”

“It’s a very fair interpretation of what the court decided,” said Mr. Bollinger, a First Amendment scholar who is now president of Columbia University, “which is primarily that race can be one of many factors, and as long as your policies truly embody that approach, you’ll be fine, and can strive for diversity in all its benefits.” (more)

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Posted by on December 3, 2011 in The New Jim Crow


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White American Voters – Cain, Obama, Immigration – The Split

How do you explain the entirely different world seen by white conservatives and that seen by the rest of us?

Some recent studies get into that, racial politics, and immigration…


Two Worlds of Whites

On the day after Barack Obama’s sweeping victory in 2008, veteran Democratic pollster Stanley B. Greenberg described the modern Democratic coalition as diverse America and the whites who are comfortable with diverse America.

That appears to be even more true today. The line between whites who are comfortable with the racial and ethnic change transforming America into a “world nation” and those uneasy about it increasingly looks like one of the most important boundaries of the 2012 campaign.

The big Pew Center for the People and the Press generational survey released last week offers powerful evidence on that point. Overall, in the Pew survey, 47 percent of non-Hispanic whites agreed with the statement that “the growing number of newcomers from other countries are a threat to traditional American customs and values.” Exactly 50 percent of whites disagreed.

Like an Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor survey released earlier this summer, Pew found that whites comfortable with the demographic changes now underway express very different attitudes than those uneasy about it on President Obama, the role of government, and the choices in the 2012 election.

Among the whites who find the increasing number of newcomers troubling, Obama’s approval rating in the new Pew survey stood at just 21 percent with 70 percent disapproving. The president runs much more strongly among whites comfortable with the changes: 45 percent of them approved, while 47 percent disapproved.

Both whites comfortable and uneasy about the trends say they prefer a smaller government offering fewer services to a larger government offering more services. But the uneasy whites prefer a smaller government by 40 percentage points; among the whites comfortable with the change the gap is only 17 points.

Most dramatic was the divergence between these two groups of whites in a hypothetical Obama-Mitt Romney race in 2012. Whites who consider the demographic change a threat prefer Romney over Obama by a crushing three-to-one: 72 percent to 24 percent. In stark contrast, among whites comfortable with the change, Obama led Romney 52 percent to 44 percent.

As I wrote in a column this summer analyzing the similar Heartland Monitor findings, these trends don’t “mean that opposition to Obama is primarily, or even largely, driven by racial resentment. But it does suggest that attitudes about the nation’s changing racial composition now overlap and reinforce the more familiar ideological divides, such as differences over social issues and the role of government, that separate the two parties’ electoral coalitions.” Obama may sharpen these differences by embodying, in such a personal way, the demographic changes reshaping American life.

For a closer look at the mammoth Pew study – in particular, for a look at the intersection between generational and demographic change – check out Friday’s National Journal magazine.

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Posted by on November 8, 2011 in The Post-Racial Life


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NC Voters Evict Tea Party Bigot School Board

Another district who has found out that Tea Bagger elected officials are toxic, and that the “throw the bums out” elections in 2009 and 2010 resulted all to often in letting the scumbags in.

This could be a bell weather of the 2012 elections, with voters expressing severe “buyers regret” over Tea Party candidates  whose often radical hidden agendas weren’t exposed until after their election.

NC voters reject Pope-backed candidates in local school board battle over resegregation

Voters in Wake County, N.C. headed to the polls yesterday in high numbers to reject a slate of conservative Republican Board of Education candidates who opposed a longstanding diversity policy aimed at avoiding high-poverty and racially-isolated schools.

The big win for Democrats and desegregation represents a big loss for conservative benefactor Art Pope, who served as the architect of the 2009 school board election that saw an anti-diversity Republican majority win control of the officially nonpartisan body, and who along with his political network backed yesterday’s losing candidates. Pope is one of the most influential money men in North Carolina politics and is a close national ally of the billionaire Koch brothers through his role as a national director of the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, which backs school privatization and whose North Carolina chapter helped Republicans in the 2009 school board race.

With five of the board’s nine seats up for grabs yesterday, Democrats won four races outright and ousted board chair Ron Margiotta, a particularly divisive figure who also serves as a trustee for a private school run by Bob Luddy, a close associate of Pope and the Koch brothers and another major funder of this year’s anti-diversity-policy candidates. Margiotta lost to political newcomer Susan Evans by 52% to 48% in Southwest Wake’s District 8, considered the most strongly Republican of the board’s nine districts. Read the rest of this entry »


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Africa – The Mother of All Languages

Africa – the mother of all peoples on earth, was also where the first spoken languages were developed.


The Mother of All Languages

The world’s 6,000 or so modern languages may have all descended from a single ancestral tongue spoken by early African humans between 50,000 and 70,000 years ago, a new study suggests.

The finding, published Thursday in the journal Science, could help explain how the first spoken language emerged, spread and contributed to the evolutionary success of the human species.

Quentin Atkinson, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and author of the study, found that the first migrating populations leaving Africa laid the groundwork for all the world’s cultures by taking their single language with them—the mother of all mother tongues.

“It was the catalyst that spurred the human expansion that we all are a product of,” Dr. Atkinson said.

About 50,000 years ago—the exact timeline is debated—there was a sudden and marked shift in how modern humans behaved. They began to create cave art and bone artifacts and developed far more sophisticated hunting tools. Many experts argue that this unusual spurt in creative activity was likely caused by a key innovation: complex language, which enabled abstract thought. The work done by Dr. Atkinson supports this notion.

His research is based on phonemes, distinct units of sound such as vowels, consonants and tones, and an idea borrowed from population genetics known as “the founder effect.” That principle holds that when a very small number of individuals break off from a larger population, there is a gradual loss of genetic variation and complexity in the breakaway group.

Dr. Atkinson figured that if a similar founder effect could be discerned in phonemes, it would support the idea that modern verbal communication originated on that continent and only then expanded elsewhere.

In an analysis of 504 world languages, Dr. Atkinson found that, on average, dialects with the most phonemes are spoken in Africa, while those with the fewest phonemes are spoken in South America and on tropical islands in the Pacific.

The study also found that the pattern of phoneme usage globally mirrors the pattern of human genetic diversity, which also declined as modern humans set up colonies elsewhere. Today, areas such as sub-Saharan Africa that have hosted human life for millennia still use far more phonemes in their languages than more recently colonized regions do.


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Posted by on April 15, 2011 in Africa


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Black Thor Has Conservatives In a Tizzy!

Oh My! What if they made a movie based on a Shakespeare fiction, converted into a comic book fiction about fictional Norse Gods…

And one of the gods turned out to have a decidedly southern tan?

Egads! Diversity amongst the gods?Racists Boycotting Thor Movie Over Black God

White Supremacists Boycotting Thor Over Black God

A far-right group is calling for a boycott of the upcoming Thor movie because a black actor has been cast as a Norse god. Idris Elba plays the god Heimdall in the superhero movie, a casting decision that the Council of Conservative Citizens says is an “insulting multi-cultural make-over,” Gawkerreports.

Marvel Comics is known for its support of left-wing causes and “has now inserted social engineering into European mythology,” complains the group, which opposes inter-racial marriage. Elba himself addressed the issue earlier this year, the Guardian notes. “Thor has a hammer that flies to him when he clicks his fingers,” he said. “That’s OK, but the color of my skin is wrong?”

Next they will be claiming all sorts of nonsense, like there were black confederates! Just the sort of thing to sour a Secession Ball, indeed…



Posted by on December 21, 2010 in The Post-Racial Life


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