Facets: Issue 07

November 20, 2015

White Privilege for All

Taisha Rucker
"I'm unwilling to wait on racism, oppression, and discrimination to end in order to live the life I want. Who has that kind of time?"

"The only reason you got into Michigan is because you're black." Taisha Rucker shares several potential responses to this assertion, unraveling white privilege in higher education (and STEM) along the way. She also underlines the point that the true solution lies not in lip service but in curiosity— being curious about our fellow human beings means we are invested in them, in understanding who they are and helping them get to where they want to be.

Coding is a Privilege, Part I and Part II

Alisha Ramos
"Being a developer is a position of privilege, but privilege (or extreme sacrifice) should not be the only path to becoming one."

As the "learn to code" gathers steam, it can be easy to think that the barriers to development careers are slowly going down, and more doors are opening for minorities. In Part I of Coding is a Privilege, Ramos points out that when the average bootcamp costs $11,063, that door only opens to the privileged few. In Part II, she shows that free online courses aren’t necessarily the solution, either, and offers practical approaches for coding schools, companies, and individuals to help reduce this privilege gap.

Breaking Down Tech Privilege from the Inside

Christian Ternus
"Only by acknowledging that [privilege] exists... can those who benefit from it, like me, make it possible for even an approximately merit-based system to exist at all."

I hesitated to share a piece here that was written by a white male, the very group that benefits most from the privilege discussed in this issue. But what drew me to Christian's piece was the admission, "I can and will get it wrong and have done so many times." The post centres around the extensive list of the privileges he knows he benefits from in various situations: looking for work, at work, at conferences, after work, and online (to name a few). This kind of uncomfortable (for him) honesty is a great first step, and I hope to see more like it.

Silent Technical Privilege

Philip Guo
"Even though I... couldn't code my way out of a paper bag, I had one big thing going for me: I looked like I was good at programming."

We talk a lot about the process of learning to code. But how is that process affected by silent privilege, and the assumptions of others? As an Asian male, Guo describes his experience of this, saying that: "nobody ever got in the way of my learning... because I looked like the sort of person who would be good at such things." His piece is astute, self-effacing, and re-affirms his commitment to encouraging those who do not benefit from privilege to learn the way he did— without anyone standing in their way.

On Technical Entitlement

Tess Rinearson
"I know logically that I’m pretty good. But I never feel like I'm as good, or as experienced, as everyone else."

In the piece that inspired Philip Guo's, Rinearson describes the other side of the coin. She describes using a computer from the moment she could sit up, but still feeling inadequate, and intimidated by technical entitlement— by the behaviour of those with the same experience, but more confidence (and more privilege). She encourages awareness of any technical privilege we have, and asks us what the community would be like if we made the conscious choice to be friendlier, more open, and more supportive.

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