CommunityLet’s Talk: Black Lives Matter

Michelle Zohlman
writes on January 19, 2021

Welcome to the next “Let’s Talk” series, where we’ll break down and discuss aspects of inequities in tech (and life), so we can check our privilege, learn, and change systems.

Please note, these topics are heavy and may be triggering. Take the space you need to read, process, and understand. 

#BlackLivesMatter

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement was started in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi as a response to Trayvon Martin’s acquitted murderer George Zimmerman. The Black Lives Matter movement has continued to fight against unjust murders of Black folx.

Black Lives Matter’s mission is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.” 

There continue to be inequities and lack of accountability that oppress, hurt, and kill Black folx.

What this means is that we need to recognize our power and privilege and fight for change. 

As someone who is white, I know I have made mistakes and been unaware of issues (even in this blog). This has led me to understand the ways I need to make personal changes. That can look different for all of us.

For one person, it might be changing policies at work.

For another, it might be reaching out to their senators on behalf of someone else.

It could even mean simply taking the time to educate themselves about racism and how whiteness has stemmed from that. 

It is our responsibility to push this movement forward wherever and however we can. As a white individual, I recognize that this can be heavy to wrap your head around initially. Maybe your life, too, has been challenging; perhaps you’ve had your own struggles. No one is taking that away from you. We are discussing here that folx are being killed, oppressed, and discriminated against because of their skin color. What we are talking about is humanity.  

Black Lives Matter and the Tech industry

We will continue discussing this at Treehouse because we believe that we and the tech industry can do better. This means creating an equitable and inclusive industry as well as allowing folx to be their authentic selves (after all, it is our mission here at Treehouse). While there have been some improvements, there remains a lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry.

Let’s keep in mind, tech was not built with folx of color in mind. We see it currently with innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) only recognizing white faces. 

As Sara Harrison shares in their article for wired.com, it’s been five years since Silicon Valley companies began sharing their workforce demographics, and we haven’t seen a vast change. In the graph, you can see that Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have less than 10% of tech workers who identify as Black, whereas there are five to six times more, white tech workers, at the company.

“Hispanic/Latinx and Black people are the most under-represented in tech relative to their representation in the U.S. Only 5% of Black individuals work in tech while they make up 13% of the population.” (Racial Diversity In Tech By The Numbers)

The data speaks for itself, yet it is only a glimpse of how representation and BLM are connected.

So why does Black Lives Matter need to exist in tech? 

Because Black folx aren’t shown that they matter in tech, whether it is getting hired or being promoted for a position. 

Because Black folx have to work at least twice as hard not to fill any stereotypes that could harm their success. 

Because Black folx’ safety coming and going to work is not prioritized, nor are they supported enough when witnessing their friends and family being killed. 

Because Black folx deserve a space in tech and often have to conform to be recognized for their work.

Because Black folx should be considered and included when writing code.

Because if we care for our co-workers, that means we care for their well-being and life.

…and the list goes on.

Once we begin to truly support Black folx in our society and in tech, we will all be better for it. 

We want Treehouse to be a space where we all can learn to make tech better. What would you like to learn further about race? What other ways can tech support BLM? Let us know below.

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