What it's like to be a black man working in a tech startup where white guys are free to be racist

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151 Responses to “What it's like to be a black man working in a tech startup where white guys are free to be racist”

  1. Remy Porter says:

    Interestingly, we just ran an article on the gender pay-gap over at TDWTF. Not the same thing, clearly, but there was a decent force that came out to deny the institutional sexism in IT. I wrote the article and tried to structure it in such a way that it addressed the very real issue, but generalized it to everybody’s salary concerns- judging from the comments, I’m not sure how successful it was.

    Oh… um… wait, you had a prediction. I’d hate to wreck it. Qu33riousity is totally wrong and totally misinterpreting events. If he doesn’t want to get harassed, he shouldn’t dress like that. Wait… I’m not very good at trolling.

    The real point that I’m trying to make is that there is always a horde of privileged knobs that are going to turn out to threadshit on everything, from Atheism+ to IT. And to make matters worse, the more you point out to them how wrong they are, with evidence and everything, the more convinced they are that you’re mistaken.

    • Jim Nelson says:

      Yeah, there’s way too much tolerance for being an utter shit to people in the tech world, and then excusing it with ‘we’re all socially awkward, so why make an issue of it? He’s just being a nerd’.

      Shit, I worked as a diesel mechanic for almost a decade and got less grief.

      This is really a management issue – of not nipping these things in the bud. There’s a lot of internet tough guy syndrome going around, and bullying everyone into allowing the most awful shit, and treating it as the new norm, is just how some companies like to work. It’s also a distinct lack of older workers in tech – they tend to bring sanity and maturity to the workforce, and when nobody is over the age of 30, it can turn into a locker room pretty quickly.

      However, they’ll learn their lesson after a few EEOC lawsuits that they’ll lose, messily.

      But short of that? Call people out. Tell them that you will fight them on their terms. It took a call to HR to stop people calling me a neo-Nazi after I shaved my head – it took that to get it through a couple people’s heads that that was actually a racist judgement, and offensive. Keep kicking it upstairs. All it takes is one or two glorious, public shamings of people and these cowards scuttle back under their desks. Either that, or the decide to start fighting back, and insubordination should take care of that pretty quickly.

      • millie fink says:

        How is it “racist” to call a white person a neo-Nazi after he shaves his head? 

        It’s not like there’s some stereotype about all white people being Nazis.

        A lot of white people in the U.S. throw around that racism word too easily these days. Especially since they live in a culture that’s still white-framed and white-dominated (which is why, for instance, the n-word has so much more bite than the h-word).

        • Jim Nelson says:

           Because you won’t call a black dude with a shaved head a neo-Nazi. Negative stereotypes based on race are racist judgements, no matter who they apply to. Especially when you continue to use them, after being told they’re offensive.

          • millie fink says:

            But it’s not a negative stereotype based on race (as I said, where’s the big, well-known stereotype out there that says all white people are Nazis?). 

            It’s based on Nazi fascism. 

            And so, it’s not racism. 

          • Jim Nelson says:

            Actually, at least in the South, it is kind of assumed that a white guy with a shaved head is a Nazi. Once again, take the ‘white guy’ out of the equation, and the assumption falls apart.

            Since that judgement of a person as something negative requires taking their race into account, it is, by definition, racist. Or is there some other definition of ‘racism’ that I’m missing?

          • millie fink says:

            Yes, you’re missing the one that came up first when I Googled “racism” just now–

            “The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race.”

            Just because Nazis were “white” doesn’t mean that calling someone one is racist.

          • Jim Nelson says:

            Don’t know where you got that definition, but according to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racism it is:

            1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
            2: racial prejudice or discrimination

            So, I would call that judgement racist by that definition.

            However, this is starting to get into an argument about the definition of one of the most controversial and politically fraught words in the English language. And that is pretty pointless.

          • Sam Ley says:

            This is getting dangerously close to an argument about semantics alone – the dictionary has nothing to do with people’s emotions. You CAN’T tell me that accusations of Nazi-ism haven’t been steeped for generations in our deepest fears about racism, hatred and violence. To pretend that joking about someone being a Nazi has nothing to do with race is just silly. It may not be garden-variety street-corner racism, but it is one of those jokes that says a lot (of mostly bad things) about the people making the jokes, and the culture they live in. I’m a huge fan of satire and irony and certainly not a “PC” advocate, but I do try to be aware of the reasons why people joke in a certain way, and what it says about their world view.

          • millie fink says:

            This is getting dangerously close to an argument about semantics alone – the dictionary has nothing to do with people’s emotions. You CAN’T tell me that accusations of Nazi-ism haven’t been steeped for generations in our deepest fears about racism, hatred and violence. To pretend that joking about someone being a Nazi has nothing to do with race is just silly. 

            I’m not saying it has “nothing to do with race”; of COURSE Nazism is a racist ideology. 

            I’m saying that telling someone who’s shave their head that they look like a Nazi (or a neo-Nazi) is not an example of racism. 

            And to get back to my point, claiming that it is constitutes another example of the common problem these days of a lot of white people watering down the concept of “racism” by claiming they’re the victims of racism when they’re not.

          • zombiebob says:

             It may not be racist, but it is inappropriate and offensive.

          • wysinwyg says:

            Back up a minute.  Were you being stereotyped on the basis of your skin color or your hair style?  If it’s hair style, which seems to be the case, then it’s pretty obviously not racist since your hair style is not really a race thing.

            Another factor — what was the race of the people calling you a neo-Nazi? My guess is most of them were actually white. If that’s the case, then are you really going to argue that white people thinking you’re a neo-Nazi because of your hair style is racist?

            Is it an unfair stereotype that needs to be challenged?  Absolutely.  But it’s not racism.

  2. Brainspore says:

    When I was a white kid living in the suburbs I found it hard to believe that racism still played a major role in modern American society. It seemed like a strange anachronism, something that our culture had eventually recognized as the ridiculous thing that it was and corrected by the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s.

    Then I grew up.

    • kromelizard says:

       And then you moved someplace where not everyone was white?

      • knoxblox says:

        I’ll admit to this.

        Yeah, I grew up in the very far outlying, very white neighborhood in my Midwestern town which in itself has been very white. I was bused to schools in (small) black neighborhoods across town from Kindergarten through 6th grade, and had many black school friends. However, when I went home, and during the summer, my suburban world was entirely disconnected from my school world.

        It wasn’t until I was a young adult living in Florida when I literally was living “across the tracks” to make ends meet that I realized I just didn’t get it as fully as I thought I had. How surprising it was to find myself trying to be civil and assertive at the same time to people who didn’t feel you belonged in their neighborhood, and would call you “honky” and “boy” to your face.

        In my opinion, I’m pretty sure this isn’t even close to the level of racism many African Americans have endured since the Civil Rights Movement.

      • Christopher says:

        I don’t think that’s a fair assumption. For most of my childhood I lived in a suburb that was pretty well mixed. I also didn’t believe racism still played a major role in modern American culture. I didn’t see it.

        But I also know that just because I didn’t see it doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. And if you asked the African American families in my neighborhood if racism still played a major role in American culture you might get a very different perspective.

      • Brainspore says:

        And then you moved someplace where not everyone was white?

        I was never that insulated. I just didn’t personally witness (or possibly just didn’t recognize at the time) any overt displays of racism in my community, which helped reinforce the naive notion that racism was a rare thing in my day and age. Which I guess is OK if you’re a kid, but just willful ignorance if you’re an adult.

  3. First, as a white male, I’d like to say this.  I’ve only ever had a parents paid for college education a driver, maid, and cook.  I’ve had a want for nothing my entire life, and a path available to me that I have scorned repeatedly.  I work in a tech startup.  Certainly that is not privilege.  Privilege is something supported by law.  An example of modern day privilege would be Affirmative action.   Ironically, white males who have not served in vietnam are the only people NOT privileged in the United States.

    Use your words implies using them correctly.  What you might mean to say is that, us white males have it pretty easy traditionally.  Statistically that is true.  But by blanketly applying that belief to all white males you are in effect broadly generalizing.  That’s not much different from racism. 

    So, stop hating.  Us white males who have had it made love all you folks.  I’ll buy you all a beer in SF if I run into you.  Cause you know what, we’re pretty happy friendly go lucky people.  Much love boing boing.

    • Brainspore says:

      Genuine, troll or satire? Taking all bets!

      •  I’d call it a full satire, except for the factual veracity of the statement.  I think that qualifies it for full on troll.  But hey, that’s just my opinion.

      • dragonfrog says:

        Is it maybe necessary to troll some readers, in order to satirize at all?

        A satire will be understood and enjoyed by some readers, and missed by others – those who miss the satire, have essentially been trolled.  If your satire is so clearly telegraphed that everyone gets it and no one is trolled, then it is ineffective as satire.

        Maybe I’m also totally wrong on this.  But I seem to recall that A Modest Proposal trolled a significant segment of Swift’s readership.

    • Judonerd says:

       WAT

    • Avram Grumer says:

      See, here’s privilege staring us right in the face. Some guy who’s clearly got a shaky grasp of vocabulary and syntax nonetheless thinks he’s got the linguistic expertise to lecture the rest of us on using words properly. That’s a clear sign of someone who’s gone through life being unjustly deferred-to.

      Then, after insulting us all, he thinks he can clear it all up with “much love” and “I’ll buy you all a beer”.

      • Shit, is loving people and buying them beer an insult.  Christ.  I’ve been such an asshole.  I am so sorry.

        • PhosPhorious says:

           ” I’ve only ever had a parents paid for college education a driver, maid, and cook.”

          Can you tell me what this means?  You’re argument relies crucially on you having the correct definition of “privilege” so it would be nice if you could demonstrate that English is your first language.

          Or at least in your top three. . .

          •  My grammar was terrible there.  I apologize.  Us white male folk aren’t very good with fancy grammar like you urban folk.

            “I’ve only ever had a parents paid for college education a driver, maid, and cook.” 

            could probably be written better as :

            “I have been raised with parentally funded college education provided for me.  I have lived a life of luxury.  My home came complete with a parent provided driver, maid, and cook on staff.”

            Does that work for you?  Honestly, while my previous attempt lacked grammatical correctness, I feel it was fairly intelligible.

            And yes, English is in my top 3 languages.  But I am totally partial to Brazilian Portuguese. 

            As for my definition of privilege, the authoritative source of English language definitions is the Oxford English Dictionary.  Or at least that’s what I’ve been taught.  So don’t take my word for it.  Educate yourself using proper sources. 

            This is the internet homie.  You can’t trust everything you read here.

          • Context says:

            Well again the context matters here. Your satire has been done before and it has been done to exaggerate and to make absurd arguments about privilege.

            The race to the dictionary is an attempt to box the argument in and ignore all that important context about privilege that was not included in the tight dictionary definition.

            Effectively given all this context and your response, regardless of its initial attempt at satire has been shown to be relatively fallacious. You are taking a position of ignoring the context of the past, you are ignoring the actual meaning of privilege in this context. Your plea to multiculturalism and the use of derisive and appropriated language further suggests that your satire was indeed about people who try to remind you of your own privilege.

            In essence given all that context, what have written and the later responses indicate your denying privilege and in essence are being racist as you leverage multiculturalism in way to appear not racist but instead you invoke a trope that is similar to the refrain “but I have a black friend so it is ok”. That card you played was not “get out of jail free”, it was the “Race card”.

          • Andrew Wood says:

            I for one found your original post almost completely unintelligible.  And by the way, I’m an urban white male (not one or the other).

  4. GawainLavers says:

    Can anyone explain to me what the Kixeye ad with the wolf covered in jizz is all about?

    • kaplanfx says:

      Yeah, it’s a poor bastardization of the “Insanity Wolf” meme: http://www.quickmeme.com/Insanity-Wolf/  For their ads, Kixeye seems to just take memes that might be popular with their target audience and throw “work at Kixeye” on them while using them improperly.

      • FoolishOwl says:

        Before this, one of the things that bugged me about the Kixeye ads was that “Insanity Wolf” isn’t “Awesomer”. “Insanity Wolf” is destructive and horrible. But perhaps it turns out to be appropriate as a mascot for Kixeye, after all.

  5. jennybean42 says:

    OMG. I went to their website and took their little “shooting gallery” quiz to see if I was compatible with them, picked all of the most offensive answers I could think of, and  it came back telling me I was 89 percent compatible with their company.  YIKES.

    • Sekino says:

      Holy crap! I scored 85% (I had trouble picking the douchiest option at times).

      The site looks like it was designed by hormonally imbalanced, neglected 14 year-olds as a joke. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that supposed professional adults conceived this and that they are somehow still in business.

    • I got 76%, and was offered a handshake by a man in one of those horse masks that were popular a couple years ago. Only this one had a unicorn horn, because unicorns are awesome! I think there was some bacon in there as well.
      Wankers.

  6. bcsizemo says:

    “And I’m from the south, so believe me, I know what racism is like.”

    Holy hell, I’m from the South as well, and shit boy that’s grade A+ racism.

    I’m talking like KKK cross burnings a mile from where I went to elementary school and hearing people over 50 who still occasionally use the “N” word….  Seriously this guy isn’t even a 1/2 stepped removed from either one of those. 

    Here let me say it:
    GOD WHAT A RACIST ASSHOLE.

    I rib and joke with my friends, my close friends (and only male friends at that).  On rare occasion a racist comment will fly, be if from me or them, or to someone else in the group (white, black, Asian, Hispanic).  But never in this way, and never in a way that isn’t implied to be joking.  I know that doesn’t make it right, but considering the serious conversations I’d had with my non-white friends I’d think they would tell me if there was a problem.

  7. big ryan says:

    sounds like a terrible place to work for anyone, as a white straight male I would be uncomfortable there

  8. Toby says:

    He’s considering legal action, but he put all the details online?  I’m no lawyer, but that sounds not-smart.

  9. Rob says:

    When I was younger I witnessed a bunch of sexism in one tech job, and got fired for voicing my concerns. I’m a dude, if that matters.. and they hired a receptionist to harass. Oddly the one woman who wasn’t harassed felt like she wasn’t attractive. Sadly she was just the only one they respected.

    This is beyond racism. Its workplace bullying. Luckily the douchebags decided to bully along the lines of a protected class. Burn them alive in court if you can. If you can’t… just burn them alive.

  10. big ryan says:

    i had no idea behavior like this was an issue in SF, in the rest of country SF is presented as ‘oh were so progressive, the rest of you are back woods red necks’

    he makes it sound like this kind of behavior is really common there

    • One of those fun facts you learn as a grown up is that even progressive people can be racist. 

      Also: Recycling, riding a bike, and wearing skinny jeans doesn’t make you progressive. 

    • el_gallo says:

      San Francisco isn’t San Francisco anymore: Ti Couz is now a sportsbar — not just a tragedy, but a perfect metaphor.

      • FoolishOwl says:

        Like every community, every social structure, every person, San Francisco has opposing tendencies within it, giving it its dynamism.

        There’s Harvey Milk, and there’s Dan White.

    • GawainLavers says:

      Douchepools are everywhere, if the Bay Area has any virtue, it’s that there’s more likely to be a stink about it here than other places.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      San Francisco is full of people who moved there so that they could be openly gay or generally fly their freak flags in public. It’s also filled with people who moved there for jobs and have no relationship to the people who moved there to continue the ancient and honorable tradition of joyful, enlightened perversion.

    • FoolishOwl says:

      It’s a much more complicated picture than that, of course. No community is monolithic, and arguably, the progressives just hold on to a slight edge over the conservatives in San Francisco. San Francisco’s neighbor, the urban East Bay, is politically polarized, with Oakland a center for African-American culture, for radical political activism and militant labor unions; but, Oakland has one of the most overtly racist police departments in the US. The urban Bay Area is ringed about with posh, conservative suburbs, and adjacent to the California Central Valley, which is deeply socially and politically conservative, and dominated by agribusiness and its keen interest in anti-immigrant policies which foster a climate of racist fear and suppress farm worker organization and wages. And many of San Francisco’s neighborhoods are segregated.

      And, the software industry notoriously encourages its members to live in a bubble, in isolation from the larger, more diverse community that surrounds them. Notice, for instance, how Qu33riosity describes the elaborately stocked kitchen and the catered meals at work. No need even to walk outside!

  11. Stephen Gordon says:

    I was amused to see qu33riousity be racist in his article about how racist his coworkers are. my favorite was:

    “Dumbwhite**********”

    • Youkai says:

      I was more amused to read how having to go back to SF was so painful, rending his soul and slicing his heart, and how the entire city is persecuting him. After reading the whole post, I don’t think this person could be happy anywhere.

      That said, that company’s website is an abomination and I could imagine everyone working there to be as douchey as possible.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        O, noes. He has feelings.

        • OtherMichael says:

          So sad. I normally expect persecuted people to be angels who silently turn the other cheek, all the while looking towards heaven with large, brimming eyes.

          I also expect them to do this when there is a convenient shaft of sunlight, and a painter-of-velvet lurking nearby to capture the moment for posterity.

    • Judonerd says:

       Dude, he had an angry thought, and to you, that cancels out the horrible shit going on there? A supervisor joked that a latino guy and his mother were “mexican whores,” and you are surprised he didn’t get a little racial back, in an environment that was clearly racial when he got there?

    • SedanChair says:

      Stung a little, did it? Cry more

    • zombiebob says:

      But he’s not being racist by doing that, honestly. You’re just not grasping the context. Seriously.

    • EnglebertFlaptyback says:

      That…THAT is what you took away from the article?

      Pathetic.

    • FoolishOwl says:

      That’s not racist at all. They were dumb white assholes.

  12. Toxa says:

    Genuine question: does House M.D. (fictional TV character) bother you guys?
    I ask because he tells a lot of racist/sexist jokes, while not discriminating based on race/sex (he genuinely listens to everyone’s opinions and is friends with his team). Does the fact that he say all that shit sarcastically absolves him somehow? Is it ok because he doesn’t really “mean” it? Where to draw the line? And back on topic, how does it relate to this guy’s ordeal?

    • Peter says:

      I don’t think House is meant to be a huge moral example, I think he’s supposed to bother you in a lot of ways.  And I’d question your characterization at times: He listens to everyone’s opinions on medical matters, but derides every non-medical opinion he doesn’t agree with (and medical opinions he doesn’t agree with too, I guess).  He’s not ‘friends’ with his team, he’s constantly manipulating them, although I think he WANTS to be friends, on some level. 

      Does he mean the sexist/racist stuff he says?  Probably not fully.  And yet, probably, a little bit that he’d deny.  And also, whatever his beliefs, he’s probably not helping people by making the comments, he’s probably contributing to an atmosphere where casual sexism and racism is tolerated, and is casually inflicting pain with them.  I don’t think it’s a good quality. 

      Still, in other ways, he’s a perfect example.  Because being a little bit racist (or whatever you want to call the potential gray area he resides in) doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad person, deep down.  People aren’t binary.  You can have a lot of good qualities and coexist with a lot of bad qualities.  And sometimes you can go back and forth – I don’t claim to be a paragon of goodness, I’ll cop to occasionally saying this kind of thing in company I think might not mind, literally ‘as a joke’ rather than an actual feeling.  Just as I’ll cop to not standing up as I should when it, or worse, is going on.  I don’t like these parts of myself or occasional lapses, I try to be better, more empathic to people.  But there are all sorts of influences, and sometimes the desire to fit in, or indulge in a little nihilistic humor (seriously, I sometimes think that making awful jokes (in terms of content, not quality) is a little like the cutting instinct… you know it’s harmful but it feels almost empowering to be able to take something that bad and be able to make a joke about it), outweighs the better angels.  And being conscious of the effect that we have helps that – every time you make a joke just to “fit in”, even if nobody’s hurt at the time, you’re pressuring others to make similar jokes to also fit in, and then you’re partly responsible for the culture where everyone does it and some people ARE hurt.

      This racist dude might be a great guy in many areas (granted, he doesn’t sound like it, but all accounts are biased).  He may even genuinely think he’s not racist and doesn’t treat people differently by race, despite his jokes.  But, while the instinct to be defensive is understandable, the goal should be trying to be better, and if somebody tells you what you’re doing is hurting them, at least consider that, even if you think it’s wrong, it may be heartfelt, and you’re kind of being a jerk for ignoring that and deliberately continuing to hurt them.

      • EnglebertFlaptyback says:

        There’s also the added bit that House is a fictional character on a TV show.  The people and behavior described in the linked article are not.  

    • FoolishOwl says:

      I believe it’s meant to be edgy and uncomfortable to watch. I believe that House, the character, intends to challenge his colleagues to think clearly and to rationally defend their beliefs and actions, rather than to just fall back on pat answers and sentimentality; I believe that the show is intended to challenge its audience in the same way.

      It’s a risky maneuver. As with satire, as with Poe’s Law, it’s likely that some of the audience will take it straight and miss the point. The safe alternative would be to veer towards the anvilicious, but that would spoil the effect.

      I’m actually a little surprised that I haven’t run across much discussion of that show.

      • TWX says:

        It was on FOX.  If there really was a doctor as talented as House and also as antisocial to the point in engaging in obvious workplace harassment, their employer would probably either staff them with only those of the same gender, or else wouldn’t provide them with staff of any kind, if they felt they were worth keeping.

        I’ve worked with people over the years who are almost as damaged as that character.  They were typically pigeon-holed into very specific jobs that didn’t require much interaction with anyone besides their bosses, and where the task wasn’t especially important.  But, that’s public sector for you, where no one has a spine to actually reprimand and subsequently fire people for that kind of behavior.

  13. Bevatron Repairman says:

    I would so love to be the plaintiff’s lawyer here.  The legal defense to this stuff is — generally speaking — that the company did its level best to prevent this sort of harassment in the workplace.  And one of the best ways to show that you have done your level best is to have a written policy and a grievance procedure that seems to have been used once in a while.  The deposition of any fellow stupid enough to say “we don’t even tolerate people bringing up concerns of racism here” would be pretty fucking awesome.

  14. AccordionIdol says:

    I’ve seen so many stories about this form of racism in IT, and many on similar forms of sexism in IT, but I’ve never read one story about a company getting its arse handed to it in a court of law over this kind of behaviour.
      Is this because no one sues?  Because people sue and lose? Because the companies settle out of court, with confidentiality a condition of settlement?  This kind of workplace culture should see a company publicly shamed and financially damaged – does anyone have any example where that’s actually happened?

    • HighDiscoTech says:

      No one sues. I know at least two people that have a case against this specific company, and they would never, ever take action. The games industry is still small and cliquey enough that stuff like that is risky. You have to be prepared to potentially never work in the industry again if you do something as drastic as pursing legal action. 

      • Funk Daddy says:

        The answer here is:

        This guy sues and uses damages to form a game start-up. 

        Then it happens again. 

        Eventually the douches are handed their bags and asked to leave the industry, or stop being douches.

    • DeargDoom says:

      Here is an high profile case relating to sexism. Its not exactly what you are looking for as it is ongoing but I predict it will end poorly for the company in question, certainly their reputation has already been damaged. http://kotaku.com/5940401/pc-gaming-studio-said-she-ruined-their-game-but-only-after-she-sued-the-boss-for-sexual-harassment

      Anecdotally I have seen a lot of sexism in US startup stories lately. I have never worked for one but my assumption is that over the top sexism (to wit, “I am an inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing person and I’m not inclined to change my behaviour. If this is a problem, you will need to find another job.”) is a new development.

      I have worked in IT in several countries and worked with colleagues who demonstrated various degrees of racism and sexism. I have noticed that, unsurprisingly, the different levels of racism reflect the levels of the underlying culture of the area rather than the industry. In my experience this can be exaggerated if the company is small as it is easier for an unpleasant culture to take over. Startups are therefore far more likely to have this kind of toxic environment than larger, established companies. I would not describe this kind of outrageous behaviour as the norm or even common in IT in general.

    • Julia says:

      It can be difficult to document this crap even in really clear obvious cases.  I was sexually harassed for over a year by a coworker who was careful to harass me when other people weren’t around.  When other people were around he was very jokey & affable.

      At one point I requested a cube divider so he would stop spending his spare time staring at my tits.  My request was rejected because the divider prevented the workplace from having a collegial (as in colleagues, not college) environment. 

      I was more competent at our job than he was. I demonstrably did more work than he did. You would think that keeping the better performing worker would make sense.  NOPE. HR did not give a shit.

      If I took him to court, it would come down to my word against his.  Affable white guy who was just telling a joke vs. a mean black woman with a chip on her shoulder

      n.b. I should mention in addition to his sexism, he was also racist as fuck. AND YET he’s still employed there.

      • mobobo says:

        I’ve had experience of this by a Director who was seeing the office manager, I slept with the office manager – who turned out (like the Director) to have a serious problem with cocaine – and then refused the Directors “request” that I “babysit” her come-downs.
        The whole office turned on me with accusations of varying nature: being gay; being misogynistic; being a woman beater; being crap at me job…(this from people who predicted that the web will “all be flash in a few years”!).
        The behaviour was vicious, violent and sustained, in-fact 11 years down the line I still hear the same slurs, insults and accusations and have had to deal with career destruction and assault (assault from not only the Office Managers dealer chums but also when I worked at the company the Director concerned).

        In my experience taking them to court was a question of how many people would lie on behalf of the company, and unfortunately (but not surprisingly) it turned out to be all of them. While there were sympathetic people who wanted to do something they were sacred for their livelihoods.

        The Director with the coke problem is now “getting help” for his addiction – but that does nothing for the damage done and continuing.

  15. Alpacaman says:

    That unicorn has quite a package.

  16. PathogenAntifreeze says:

    I’m nowhere near as sensitive about anything as the author conveys himself to be.  And I have all the checkmarked attributes of traditional priviledge.  And _I’d_ feel *sick* working in an office culture like the one he describes… it sounds like a group of racist guys from Jim Crow era Georgia trying to adopt the 4chan /b/ culture and turn it into a workplace in the middle of *San Francisco*… !!  My mind is blown.

  17. mrtut says:

    1) His colleagues are jerks, either as individuals, or in that group, or both
    2) So is he, either as individual, or in that group, or both.

    Seriously, the incidents described are not acceptable, but to close each episode with “Dumbwhite**********”?

    • Andrei Mavritansky says:

      Do you feel threatened by that?

    • Sam Ley says:

      Ooo, he called someone a mean name cause they were hateful toward him. You let me know when he makes white people 6 times more likely to be incarcerated and then I’ll feel bad for you.

  18. Teirhan says:

    Some of these comments are a little eye-opening.  I’d expected a little better from the BB commentariat.

    Yes, ending each episode with “dumbwhite**********” is kind of a racist dick move, but you know what?  For me at least, it’s understandable venting after the shit he’s describing.  I probably wouldn’t vent the same way, but that doesn’t mean I can’t understand here he’s coming from with comments like that – especially in response to a racist and hostile environment like the one he’s describing.  That shit is NOT cool, and a couple racist fumes by him doesn’t magically invalidate the shit he was putting up with at that job – though since he’s put it in a public space, it’s probably not going to help any suit he files.

    • Sam Ley says:

      It would be incredible if everyone complaining about his “dumbwhite” comments leapt to the defense of others when sexist, racist or similar slurs are made around them. Of course they probably think, “that’s so gay”, “must be that time of the month” and “fast twitch muscle fiber” are probably just fine little jokes to make and nothing to get worked up about.

      • Teirhan says:

         I’d like that too.  There’s altogether too much of the “arab trader” fallacy (i think that’s what it’s called?) at play in interweb discussions of race and racial privilege and not enough empathy, I feel sometimes.

        It’s possible to look at shit like this without taking one side or the other and ignoring the things you don’t like on your side.  I don’t like his response, but I don’t like him being put in a position where that would be a potential response even more, if that sentence makes sense.  Acknowledging one doesn’t mean ignoring the other. :(

        • Sam Ley says:

          Agree completely. And yes, the “Arab trader” fallacy is clearly at work here, wherein someone (in the traditional case, a white American) defends an evil act by pointing out that someone else in history also committed a similar evil. “The North American slave trade wasn’t a bad thing for the time period, because hey, Arab Traders sold slaves, too!”. Typically the evil being committed by the in-question white people is huge compared to the one committed by the other people, though that fact isn’t central to the reason that the argument is fallacious (“Everyone is doing it so why can’t I do it?” is a dumb argument regardless of scale).

        • DeargDoom says:

          While the response of some commenters was as unsightly as it was predictable the reason is surely that it is easier to spot and be offended by discrimination against your own race or gender and that some people are self absorbed enough to only react against slights directed towards themselves.

  19. John Napsterista says:

    I’m new to your planet and doing my anthropology thesis on it.  Could someone please let me know (with respect to the North American district) if:

    (1) there is any particular group which is considered to be the most privileged, and if so who?

    (2) there is any particular group which is considered to be the least privileged, and if so who?

    We have the concept of privilege on my world as well, but it’s much more nuanced, and based on a specific individual’s particular assets & circumstances, rather than ascribed to a large groups in a blanket fashion.  I’m not saying it’s better than how you Earthlings do it or anything like that, I’m just here to study your ways with an open mind.

    • Xof says:

      You are in *such* luck! An Earthling has already written your thesis for you. You just have to translate it into whatever you speak up there, publish, and your degree is assured:

      http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/

      You’re welcome.

      • John Napsterista says:

        Thanks very much, Xof, but we punish plagiarism on my planet like your people punish the sharing of music, and I don’t want that on my record.  That said, Mr. Scalzi’s article seems underdeveloped. He posits straight/white/male as being the lowest difficulty level on your world, when other sets of assigned attributes would obviously make game play even easier –for example, straight/white/male/athletically-gifted, or straight/white/male/inheritor-of-wealth.  Likewise, he argues that gay/minority/female is the most difficult setting.  That is laughable, as it is self-evident, even to an outsider like me, that gay/minority/female/born-crippled would be infinitely more difficult.

        My question to you is this:  Why are some assigned-at-birth attributes (external genitalia, sexual interest, pelt color, etc.) considered when assessing an Earthling’s privilege, while other assigned-at-birth attributes (familial wealth, physical prowess, raw computing power) are excluded from consideration?  Of what benefit is that?

        • Xof says:

          Why are some assigned-at-birth attributes (external genitalia, sexual interest, pelt color, etc.) considered when assessing an Earthling’s privilege, while other assigned-at-birth attributes (familial wealth, physical prowess, raw computing power) are excluded from consideration?  

          Clearly, your research here is at an early stage, because no one (least of all Mr Scalzi) claims that’s true, especially when it comes to “familial wealth” (here on Earth, we call that “social class”).

          Since videogames may be absent from your planet, I’ll attempt to restate it in a way that is more generic.

          There is a strong reaction of the form, “But I am white, middle-class, and male, and I have suffered the following indignities: [insert list here]. Thus, I am not ‘privileged,’ because a truly ‘privileged’ person would not have suffered them.” The contrary argument is also used: “Barak Obama is black, was raised by a single mother, and grew up in relative (by US standards) poverty, and he has achieved the pinnacle of privilege in the US, therefore someone who is black, raised by a single-parent, and grew up in poverty cannot be said to lack privilege.”

          Mr Scalzi’s point is that, while it is absolutely true that those who are white, male and middle-class can suffer indignities, there is a very strong bias towards lifting those with those characteristics up i the American game of life. It is not determinative, of course, but it is beyond question that the tendency is there.

          You can, of course, expand the list of attributes far beyond the basic set that Mr Scalzi uses as an example; disability, as you mention, is certainly among the ones you can add.

          It’s a fascinating but beyond-the-scope of a Boing Boing comment thread why certain traits with a strong genetic characteristic are considered acceptable as sortation items, while others are not. For a full treatment of that topic, I can recommend “Harrison Bergeron” by the American author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. I would caution you, however, that Earthlings frequently engage in the rhetorical device called “irony,” in which the superficial meaning of a work is not the intended message.

          • John Napsterista says:

            Dear Xof:  Mr. Vonnegut is considered a great Earthling thinker on my planet, and schoolchildren study his works in Other Worlds’ Cultures Class (I myself read “Harrison Bergeron” while still in larval form), just as they do World of WarCraft and the works of your most profound 8-bit artists, like Shigeru Miyamoto.

            What we don’t get, and what I mean to assess here is, specifically, “why certain traits with a strong genetic characteristic are considered acceptable as sortation items, while others are not.”  Any objective outside observer can easily see that privilege exists, and recognizes that denying it is fatuous.  But human beings are born with many outcome-determinative (or at least, outcome-influencing) genetic traits, and it seems equally obvious that limiting the number of them to be considered when assessing privilege –or indeed, assessing anything about a human being –serves only to paint an artificially pixelated view of an individual or class of individuals (i.e., those who work at video game sweatshops).  This serves only to reinforce –artificially –the distinctions between a race of people.  On the other hand, considering as broad a class of genetic traits as possible (and surely, even humans are capable of this) when assessing individuals or classes of people encourages a more holistic appreciation of people, thus fostering unity.

            Anyhow look, it’s all the same to me.  Earth wasn’t even my first-choice planet, I’m just here to finish up my degree and then I’m out.  You all taste the same (delicious!) to us.  But as a hunter and a conservationist, I really hope you Earthlings don’t wipe yourselves out, and having studied many worlds such as yours, I can tell you that’s what creating divisions among a race inevitably leads to.

          • PaulDavisTheFirst says:

             Your problem appears to be using an anthropological technique that is based almost entirely on present day observation.

            The set of traits with strong genetic characteristics that are acceptable as sortation items are decided by the previous actions of those with the power and wealth to limit the power, wealth and self-determination of others, based on those sortation characteristics.

            There’s nothing inherent about the color of human skin that leads to it being more interesting or notable as a priviledge sortation characteristic, except for the fact that a bunch of people in the past decided that it was (which led them to consider those with skin color different from their own as either sub-human or non-human).

            There’s nothing inherent about the gender of a human that would suggest its use as a priviledge sortation characteristic, except that a lot of powerful humans of the male gender decided that it was (which led them to consider females as weak, indecisive, incapable of holding many positions in life, and so forth).

            The reasons why these decisions occured is hard to fathom, since they took place a long time ago, sometimes in time before we began recording our history in ways that would be useful in deciphering decision making. The reasons why those historical decisions are still of some significant importance today has more to do with social intertia, a phenomenon I would imagine you’ve encountered on other planets and even among some other lifeforms here on earth.

            You’re not going to find answers in our present about why our ancestors picked these sortation characteristics. If your people have access to time travel as well as interstellar transportation, you might do us a favor by figuring it out and coming to tell us about it.

          • Context says:

             It’s what happened in the past and how you use that context now that makes much of your post racist. Your choices in your bias and what you choose to ignore or gloss over make this ever more evident.

          • SamSam says:

            Xof: don’t even bother. You’re doing an admirable job, but John Napsterista has far too much self-esteem riding on the fact that he got to where he is despite being a straight white male to ever be able to listen to the points you’re trying to make.

        • Sam Ley says:

          You should also look into the concept of “accumulative advantage” where-in small advantages at certain times can result in huge differences later on. Much like compounded interest, or retirement savings, people who get a small advantage early on tend to realize huge benefits later in life. For instance, students born just before school entrance age cut-offs tend to do poorly compared to students borne just after the entrance age cut-off, since those born just after enter school with the abilities of someone 11 months more mature than someone born just before. This early advantage widens slowly over time as they attract more attention and support, and can result in measurable differences later in life – the effect in Canadian pro-hockey is well documented, and results in a very strange looking clustering of the vast majority of pro players having a very tight range of birthdays.

          Being white and male are perhaps the two largest sources of early advantage that can widen through life. There are many other forms of advantage and disadvantage, and one could pick the statistics apart and find outliers in every category, but that would be, as we say on Earth, missing the forest for the trees. If you run a sensitivity analysis on the time-of-birth assigned factors that are most predictive of general success right now in the US, it would show the top two being white-ness and male-ness.

        • Gatto says:

          indeed: no one can quite explain why white males feel themselves so aggrieved, and cling to power using tactics like the bullying mentioned in the link. some of them will even point to other instances of inequality in the world, and pretend that negates the point entirely.

          • $19428857 says:

            It’s not that white males have some special ability to feel aggrieved that everyone else lacks. It is because all people see their own circumstance first, and from that you construct a “myth” about yourself. If one is a white male and doesn’t feel particularly advantaged, or is in fact disadvantaged in some palpable way (and almost everyone has something that may hold us back in ways both large and small), your personal myth will reflect that, and it will be difficult to hear “white guys got it easiest of all folks” and to apply that statistically verifiable truth to oneself.

            Accusations of privileged status are about group averages, and the reaction to those accusations are from the individuals of the group, not the group itself. That’s part of the fucked up magic of averages. Ferinstance: I, as a white, college educated, male get averaged in on “privilege” with the Koch brothers and Mitt Romney. Makes me “on average” a lot more conservative, rich and presumably privileged than I really am. So an unexamined reaction to someone asserting that I am a “privileged” white male would be to say “you are crazy, I don’t have all those good things, and hey, what about the good things you have that aren’t available to me? and other folks like me don’t always have it so good.” I would imagine that many of these “lil’ kerfuffles” are grounded in personal perspectives versus what averages say about the group you are in. No one is trying to be evil (well, usually), they are just reacting in an emotional, unexamined way, from their own subjective “myth”.

    • wysinwyg says:

      This is a stupid conceit.  Stop playing “oppression olympics.”  There’s no absolute ranking of “which kind of privilege is the best/worst”; it’s always highly contextual and people talking about privilege are making (valid) generalizations about tendencies, not certainties.  I suspect you already know all of this and simply have trouble admitting it to yourself. 

      • John Napsterista says:

        Uhm, for the record, that which is “always highly contextual” is inherently inappropriate for “generalization.”  Sure, you can do it, but to what end?  How does artificially and arbitrarily classifying great swaths of your population as “privileged,” when in fact a significant number of them are anything but, advance your (presumed) aim of achieving a fairer, more egalitarian society? Generalization about the alleged “tendencies” of certain racial/ethnic groups are never, ever a good thing, as the history of your angry planet so readily proves. 

        • wysinwyg says:

          Uhm, for the record, that which is “always highly contextual” is inherently inappropriate for “generalization.”

          Simply not true. It’s impossible to rank works of art in terms of absolute quality but one can easily make generalizations about what qualifies as “good” art and “bad” art and these generalizations are remarkably consistent from person to person. Same with privilege.

          How does artificially and arbitrarily classifying great swaths of your population as “privileged,” when in fact a significant number of them are anything but, advance your (presumed) aim of achieving a fairer, more egalitarian society?

          There’s nothing artificial or arbitrary about pointing out the fact that white people have particular advantages over black people in our society or that men have particular advantages over women in our society. These are simply facts. And in fact, pointing them out has demonstrably resulted in our society being fairer and more egalitarian.

          Generalization about the alleged “tendencies” of certain racial/ethnic groups are never, ever a good thing, as the history of your angry planet so readily proves.

          Talking about privilege isn’t generalizing about tendencies inherent to racial or ethnic groups. Its generalizing about tendencies that are contingently perpetuated by certain racial or ethnic groups — at the expense of other racial or ethnic groups. You seem to be arguing that suggesting there is such a thing as institutional racism is itself a racist thing to do. That’s ridiculous.

          • John Napsterista says:

            It’s impossible to rank works of art in terms of absolute quality but one can easily make generalizations about what qualifies as “good” art and “bad” art and these generalizations are remarkably consistent from person to person.

            Wow, perhaps I should change the focus of my thesis!  No one on my planet’s ever been able to come up with a universally accepted definition of art, let alone “good” art and “bad” art.  But if you’re serious, please, lay out this “remarkably consistent” and globally-agreed upon generalization of what constitutes “good” and “bad” art.  Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

            And for you and any other Earth people who are aggrieved at my inquiry (and your race does seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time being aggrieved), be assured that I recognize assigned-at-birth privilege is detrimental to the practical North American ideal of pure meritocracy, or whatever it is you’re striving for.  Attempts to account for privilege in order to create a society where achievement is based more on relevant merit, as opposed to accidents of birth, are entirely laudable.  So it is frustrating to see that efforts to identify privilege are so artificially delimited, resulting in broad generalizations which defeat the goal of creating a more level playing field. Certainly it cannot be debated that, for any two North Americans of like ability and aptitude, who possess the same reproductive organs and genetic sexual predilections, at-birth familial wealth is a far greater predictor of “success” than pelt color.  Countless studies by your best learning institutions bear this out.  Yet, your schema of determining relative privilege ignores this crucial factor.  Similarly, being born able-bodied, as opposed to crippled, affords far greater privilege to an individual than any type of assigned-at-birth sexual preference does.  Yet no account of physical ability is included in your conception of privilege.

            In sum, (or “tl;dr” in the parlance of your most privileged of youth tribes):  By all means, account for privilege.  But employ more factors than merely the troika of sexual preference/pelt color/external genitalia when assessing privilege.  Just some words of advise from a dispassionate observer, visiting from a planet far more advanced than this one.

          • wysinwyg says:

            Attempts to account for privilege in order to create a society where achievement is based more on relevant merit, as opposed to accidents of birth, are entirely laudable. So it is frustrating to see that efforts to identify privilege are so artificially delimited, resulting in broad generalizations which defeat the goal of creating a more level playing field. Certainly it cannot be debated that, for any two North Americans of like ability and aptitude, who possess the same reproductive organs and genetic sexual predilections, at-birth familial wealth is a far greater predictor of “success” than pelt color.

            You just gave a brilliant definition of privilege — and yet you still claim not to believe in it. Yes, pure meritocracy is a nice idea and while impossible to provide in practice, we can talk about specific ways in which we fall short. The ways in which our society falls short of pure meritocracy — ways in which certain people are privileged over others by accidents rather than personal accomplishments — we call “privilege.” You even mention a completely valid form of privilege — class privilege. You try to imply that I’m ignoring this type of privilege, but that’s simply not true. Just because I’m not talking about it right at this moment doesn’t mean I’m ignoring it. Just because I’m not talking about chocolate cake doesn’t mean I don’t think it exists.

            Here’s the point you seem to be having trouble with: white privilege and class privilege are not mutually exclusive. They can both exist in the same society and we can talk about each of them separately. For example, we can talk about the fact that white people seem to have better outcomes than black people even when controlling for socioeconomic class.

            The impression you give is that you’re OK with the concept of privilege as long as we’re not specifically talking about racial privilege. Why is that? Does talk about race or racism make you uncomfortable?

            Please talk to me as the human being you actually are. You’re obviously not an anthropologist — I suspect a white male American person working in science, engineering, or IT. For the record, that’s what I am as well. The “alien anthropologist” thing is not cute, clever, or interesting and in fact makes you look like kind of a troll.

          • wysinwyg says:

            No one on my planet’s ever been able to come up with a universally accepted definition of art, let alone “good” art and “bad” art.

            1.  Do you deny art exists?
            2. Do you deny that some art is better than other art?

            If you answer “yes” to either question then you have a serious problem because you still have to explain why human beings in general seem to believe that art exists and that some art is better than other art — and why there seems to be so much consensus about what constitutes good and bad art. Even the handful of people who think Marlowe might have been a better playwright than Shakespeare still acknowledge that Shakespeare was a brilliant playwright. The fact that I can’t give you necessary and sufficient conditions for what constitutes “art” and what makes some art better than other is exactly the argument I’m making. You’re essentially saying “prove yourself wrong or you are wrong.” Kind of a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose sort of argument, don’t you think?

            Consider Wittgenstein’s argument about the fact that the concept of a “game” cannot be boiled down to a list of necessary and sufficient condition. Does that mean that games don’t exist?

  20. Christopher Ellis says:

    Anyone read TRUST ME I’M LYING by Ryan Holiday? Cui bono.

  21. Jon Bakos says:

    If I don’t like *everyone* in the story, does that make me racist?

    If I point out that as a white male my opinion on this story is automatically wrong (presumably even if I agree with it), does that also make me racist?

    • Sam Ley says:

      If you point out that “as a white male my opinion on this story is automatically wrong” that doesn’t make you racist – it makes you wrong. I know a lot of sad white males who think that it is impossible to engage in a discussion about racism without either A) Grovelling on the floor and apologizing for the actions of their forefathers or B) loudly proclaiming that everyone ELSE are the racist ones.

      I’m a white male and I admit it has taken a while and a lot of reading, but I can simultaneously acknowledge the existence of white privilege, be pleased with my own moderate attempts to make society a better place for everyone, and discuss issues of race and gender with a variety of people without marginalizing their opinions or playing the “who hurt who more” game. I encourage you to try – it would be more satisfying that empty frustration.

      • millie fink says:

        Go you!   :-)

      • Christopher says:

        Discussing issues of race and gender without marginalizing or playing games also has the additional benefit of making society better. After all we’d never get anywhere if we weren’t willing to engage in meaningful dialogue.

      • TWX says:

         It isn’t that everyone else are the racist ones, it’s that everyone has some form of bias, and appearance is the easiest way to categorize that bias, and race is, by any measure I can think of, the biggest difference in appearance.

        Attire is one way of attempting to level the playing field.  Dressing for the culture that one wishes to participate in can help reduce bias.  “Clothes Make The Man” applies even to people with the same racial characteristics- someone dressed for a profession will probably be judged to be on a level associated with that profession, as opposed to someone dressed in casual clothes or those as part of a subculture that celebrates violence or unruliness.  That latter aspect can transcend race, and my biggest example of that are white douchebags worshiping Ed Hardy.

        Real racism certainly exists.  But, sometimes what’s labelled as racism is a reaction to a subculture or counter culture.  It’s important to distinguish this, as one is a choice while the other obviously is not.

      • Tess says:

        Being a reasonably-well-read anti-racist white person is kind of awesome, isn’t it?  I mean, naming my own whiteness when race is salient – that was an easy thing to learn to do, and it totally helps!  And making sure I don’t treat the only non-white person in the room as a token, also super important, also not difficult to learn.  And the thing where I’m careful not to assume I know what it’s like to be anything other than white – it’s awesome.

        I screw up sometimes, who doesn’t?  But it’s not *that* hard to remember this shit.

        These things were somewhat easier for me to learn than they would be for other people, because I’m not a man and I’m not straight.  So it was easy for me to realize: oh, right, you know how I get annoyed with straight people who think they understand my life and tell me I’m wrong about it?  YEAH THAT.  Let’s go ahead and NOT DO THAT to other people, shall we?

        Those of you without minority status or experiences just have to try extra hard to learn that having majority members explain your life to you really sucks.  You can do it!  Honest!  I have faith in (quite a few of) you!

    • pebird says:

       “If I point out that as a white male my opinion on this story is automatically wrong (presumably even if I agree with it), does that also make me racist?”

      No, it means you don’t understand the nature of racism.

      We are all racist, it is embedded deep in our culture.  It is manifest in a variety of forms.  The question is not “if I do X, does that mean I am a racist”, but instead “I am racist, do I recognize this as a problem that I need to address for my own particular situation”.  Alcoholics who don’t take a drink for 20 years still call themselves alcoholics for good reason.

      The label is so insidious that we of course avoid it.  So we set up logical exercises (“If I am a white male and I say all white males are bad, am I a racist”) that are false arguments.  But they do demonstrate how hard we want to avoid being tagged as racist.

      Misses the whole point.

      We can’t avoid the label, we inherited it from our predecessors.  The past lives on with the stain each of us wears.  You can try to hide it, cover it over, distract others, but that doesn’t get rid of it.  In fact it demonstrates that you don’t want to deal with it.  I empathize – it is ugly to be sure.

      First thing to do is admit it – we have this problem, it isn’t our fault, but it is our responsibility to make things different.  It is not about blame or guilt, its about stepping up and doing what is right.

  22. m carey says:

    This is great, Xeni, thanks for sharing!

  23. Nicky G says:

    White privilege, male privilege are real. I’m sure those have both helped me out. This place of work sounds miserable, no question the supervisor guy is a douche and should be fired. Yes, lots of racist comments. Not a good place to work.

    But, I do NOT think it’s excusable to respond with yet more racism, which the author does. I understand he’s angry. I understand it’s a natural reaction. I forgive it. But it doesn’t help the situation, and isn’t going to help his legal case. He says something negative toward the end about “… white people.” That is a blatantly racist comment. If a black person does something bad, and I respond with a statement that associates all black people with that negative attribute, that is racist. It works both ways. I don’t find it excusable, but I find it understandable. However, the greatest leaders who have done the most to further race relations, I think would argue that you have to be better than the racists, significantly so. Nobody said it was easy to do that. But it’s the right thing to do, and it actually helps the situation, rather than perpetuates it.

    • SamSam says:

      Writing a blog after you’ve left the company is simply not the same as contributing to a hostile work environment.

      • wibbled_pig says:

         So if you make a racist comment in the privacy of your own home, are you less of a racist than if you make it in public (we’ll exclude asshole, stupid, insensitive, etc we’re only trying to figure out how racist you are..)?

        • wysinwyg says:

          The question makes no sense.  Someone who makes a racist comment in the privacy of his or her own home could be more racist than someone making a similar comment in public.  Where you make your comments doesn’t determine how racist you are — your attitude towards people of other races does.

          Now, it’s quite likely that someone who makes a racist comment in the privacy of his or her own home is less racist because that demonstrates a certain amount of awareness of self, others, and the general attitude towards racism in our society.  Someone who feels bad enough about being racist to restrict racist comments to moments of privacy is probably less racist than someone who feels fine blurting them out in public.  But again, the degree to which someone is a racist is a matter of internal attitudes, not external expression, and it can’t be measured directly.  The person making racist comments in public is certainly providing more evidence of racism than the other person, though.

    • Funk Daddy says:

      There is a distinct difference between systemic & institutionalized, protracted racism that the guy faced, and his angry reaction to it, notwithstanding that if he was only referring to the persons or institutions with which he has beef, then his statements using what you see as racist were merely descriptive.

      Any judge will see it. Most people do.

      When only the pure may stand against the impure you will be fucked.

    • pebird says:

      This is really arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

      Racism is far more than what comments you make or what language you use.  It is a general label used to categorize a variety of behaviors and relationships.

      Categorizing something does not equalize all things in the category.   You have to especially careful with emotionally-charged categories, such as racism.

      And sometimes you do have to fight something by turning it back on itself.  I can be non-violent, but in an exceptional situation kill someone, and still be a non-violent person.

      • Nicky G says:

        I think most people would agree that attributing negative qualities to all members of a particular race is, really, the very essence of racism. That’s specifically what I was commenting on, and the original blog poster himself engaged in. In the same way I certainly don’t excuse the original workplace behavior, I don’t excuse further examples of racism. Apparently you’re parents never told you “two rights don’t make a wrong.”

  24. Context says:

    If the context and the historical context was racist and oppressive, repeating a similar context is racist and oppressive. If you can’t buy into the idea that the context matters then you’re not center or left of center or left-wing and you will continually be surprised by how people are calling you for being racist.

    Racism is about context, it is why white people can’t use the n-word, why Tamils have to tip toe around Islam (LTTE genocided muslims in Sri Lanka), why straights saying fag/faggot is not ok (in fact my invocation of the word is still not ok but the f-word is overloaded), why western christians are not actually oppressed, why the word colonialism still matters.

    If you can’t buy into context and context of historical use, someone on the left is going to call you racist. Now that you know, don’t act so shocked.

    • FoolishOwl says:

       In context of this discussion, we shouldn’t give people too much credit. There’s a lot of racism around. There are a lot of white people who are racist. The people complaining about Qu33riosity’s use of language are not innocents. They’re racists, and they resent it when people of color resist or even complain of racism.

      • Nicky G says:

        Bullshit. I mean, that might be the case some of the time, but it’s not universally true. You may think so, but you’d be wrong.

  25. DataShade says:

    The cache no longer abides.

  26. Funk Daddy says:

    Ha, I just visited the website of the losers in the upcoming lawsuit, looks like they only make clone-ish MMORTS FB games…

    I’m sure they may monetize, god knows it’s a tried and true formula, but damn, talk about FTL. 

    They are more Wall Street than Tech Geek. Or maybe they will use their profits to invest in making real games someday, ones that game-nerds would actually play? Probably can’t do it.

    BUT, they think they are sooo smart that they can act outside societal norms and be set immune by claiming to be socially challenged geeks…

    Law will eat them and their young. The blinding light of publicity that is possible from such action will burn out their retinas. 

    These douches are the corporate version of that poor loser that made the crappy flashgame about beating up a woman who dared question his questionable self. 

  27. Steve Olsen says:

    People are dicks. I’d like to think that these “dicks in the techworld” stories have more to do with the techworld being vocal because, yeah, it’s a tech world here on the netz… but really I think it’s people with no idea/skill/knowledge about actually dealing with shit. Very few “leaders” I’ve worked for have ever gotten to that place because they were a leader. They started a company or knew someone who did or stayed long enough to be that person.

    The moral of the story is Dicks are assholes.

  28. Man, you’re telling me! It’s so difficult to be a white man in today’s society.

  29. Brainspore says:

    … if you’re white, male and wear a fedora, you are never really entitled to have an opinion at all…

    I’m all of those things and my opinion got more “likes” than any other comment on this thread so far. Then again, I am a race-traitor.

  30. Alpacaman says:

    Did you even read the article?

  31. MichaelVandiver says:

    I have never seen a burning fedora in anyone’s lawn.

  32. SedanChair says:

    Why don’t you compose a spiritual about it

  33. Since when does “stop with the racist jokes” equal “you’re lucky we let you live”? Losing the right to oppress someone else does not equal being oppressed yourself.
    Edited because I am Typos the Great and Terrible!

  34. dbergen says:

    I’m gonna go with sarcasm on that one.

  35. destronomics says:

    Your lack of knowledge of their lived experience of racism makes your opinion on their lived experience of racism less valid, yes.

    Just like my English degree and my DVR subscription to Grey’s Anatomy makes my opinion on what technique one should use for open heart surgery less valid.

    Do you see how that works?

  36. Avram Grumer says:

    Guess what? Believing yourself to be oppressed does not entitle you to address your fellow commenters as “scumbag”! 

  37. Brainspore says:

    Ew, I didn’t expect @google-95dbf440e717bb58f5f18082cf412ed8:disqus  to “like” this comment. Get it off! Get it off!

  38. Alpacaman says:

    You are immensely privileged by your position as a white male. Of course you didn’t choose to be a privileged white male, but the least you can do is ackowledge that you are one.

    You are seeming a lot more ridiculous and uninformed than Xeni, to say the least. A little self inspection does everyone good. You should try it.

  39. Avram Grumer says:

    Why would we grant a self-admitted “ridiculous and uninformed” opinion as much weight as an informed, non-ridiculous opinion? The demand that we do so is itself a demand for privilege. 

  40. Brainspore says:

    You mean “uppity,” amirite?

  41. SexBobOmb says:

     This is really under your skin, isn’t it?  You should think about that.  When you’ve calmed down.

  42. destronomics says:

    Actually, it does. Just being born in this country of a skin color other than white gives you a tangibly different experience in this world, than being born white. These are basic facts.

    Your ability to ignore basic facts speaks the loudest, though.

  43. millie fink says:

    Ai yi yi.

  44. naught_for_naught says:

    Ethan may be a bit over the top with that, but he’s adressing Xeni’s statement that, ” it will no doubt inspire some number of privileged white guys to post comments about how wrong he is.”  And he’s right about that.  It’s pre-judging a single group of people based on race and gender, negating their opinion in advance while making this blanket assertion that white males are universally privaleged.

    I read the piece, at least until I went blind trying to deal with the 8pt font, and I have to say that while this does seem like a crappy company, he’s not completely innoscent, e.g., dumbwhite*******.   Is my reading invalid just because I’m white?

    Think about this.  When Prop 8 was struck down by the 9th circuit court, people were shouting that the case couldn’t get a fair ruling because Justice Vaughn Walker is a gay man.  That is no more reasonable than saying a white person can’t look at a claim of racism by a black man fairly. That’s what got Ethan worked up, and he was right to be offended.  Most of the dog-piling that resulted is just Lord-of-the-Flies mob mentality. 

  45. Avram Grumer says:

    No, it’s judging a group of people based on behavior

    It’s pretty much guaranteed that if you post about racism or sexism on a high-profile blog or forum, you’ll attract a bunch of white men explaining how the racism or sexism you experienced wasn’t really racism or sexism, or how it doesn’t matter because you’re the real racist/sexist for noticing other people’s racism/sexism. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times. 

    In fact, I’ve done it myself, because I’m a white guy, and I inherited the same lack of perspective that most other white guys living the the US have inherited. But after seeing this pattern a few dozen times, and having some people I respect explain the problems with it, I realized that it’s a kind of unthinking defensive reaction to having one’s privileged position in society pointed out. And — here’s the key point — I stopped doing it. I shut up and listened, because that’s how you learn from people who know more than you do about a thing. 

    So now, instead of being a white guy who posts about how wrong black people are to notice racism, I’m a white guy who points out how wrong other white guys are to insist that their white-guy experience gives them more insight into racism than the lived experience of non-white people. And so, without having had to change my sex or race, I am now longer one of the kinds of people Xeni was talking about in that statement. 

  46. Cornan says:

     I hope you don’t mind but I am doing a copy/paste of your post so I can just use it next time a thread like this comes up. I’ll credit “some dude on the internet”.

  47. DeargDoom says:

    You compare the amount of likes your comments get against everyone in the thread and you also check to see who liked each of your comments?

    Id be tempted to call you a like-whore but I guess fedora wearers have to take their kicks wherever they can find them :P

  48. Antinous / Moderator says:

    It’s a joke.

  49. DeargDoom says:

    Indeed, hence the smiley.

  50. Brainspore says:

    Oh shit, I forgot the smiley?

  51. Christopher says:

    I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that I came to this thread too late to reply to “Guest”, whose comments have all been removed.

    While there have been several intelligent and, to me, thought-provoking and enlightening, responses to whatever it is “Guest” said, I think people could have just as easily dealt with him by telling him to tell his old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for forty-five minutes. 

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