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All guilty, all responsible

damcosset profile image Damien Cosset ・4 min read

This article will be a bit off-brand. No tutorials or description of a technical concept. This is a collection of thoughts about the actual state of the world and what is happening in the US. It might be disorganized, going all over the place, but such is my state of mind at the moment and I need to write something down.

I don't know if this sort of topics belongs here. I'll try to put things in the context of the the industry. I trust the DEV.to moderation team to take it down if it doesn't fit the guidelines.

Writing has always been a way to process the emotions I felt. Emotions that were blurry or unclear became clearer once I try to write it down.

Racism and white supremacy

We have a racism problem. It's not breaking news. We, as a society, treat people who are not white like they are lesser than whites. We built systems, starting several centuries ago, designed to exploit and oppress people of color. Those systems are still in place today, and if what is happening in the US shows us anything, it is that those systems are still going strong.

I started to see those systems thanks to Twitter. I started to follow people that were not looking like me. Women, Black people, Transgender people... people with completely different lived experiences. And it felt uncomfortable to read and see what those people are going through, every day. It showed me the amount of privilege I have.

And it begs the question: how much harm have I already done? How much how a racist I was, and still am? What am I doing to dismantle the oppressing systems in place? What am I doing that sustain those same systems? How much pain and suffering did I do because I chose to remain silent?

These are difficult questions, and I fear the answers. But there is no doubt that I've done harm. It's up to every single one of us to use the privilege we have to change the systems in place.

The harm in Tech

As @KimCrayton1 on Twitter says all the time:

Tech is not neutral nor is it apolitical

The more obvious example today might be Facebook. What they choose to leave on their social media as a direct impact on the lives of people. Real people, in real life. Not just behind a computer. It always sounds abstract when you post on a social media, but this is real life. The consequences are real. What you put on Twitter, Facebook, even here on dev.to, has consequences. It's up to you to put content, or promote content that has positive consequences for the society we live in.

We, as developers, have power. How we choose to use our skills is crucial, even more so today. You could work on a tool that sustain white supremacy and the systems of oppression put in place. Or you could work to support and promote antiracist organizations.

As one Facebook developer said: History will not judge us kindly. I believe it to be true for the entire Tech industry.

It's not easy to look in the mirror and ask yourself: What am I doing? What am I NOT doing?

It's not about me. It's not about my white sensibility. It's not about how I feel. It's about the basic right for so many people to just... live. We have denied them that right, because it's comfortable. What excuse do I have to keep buying shit and promoting content from companies and people who do not have a clear antiracist agenda?

What can I do?

Don't take anything from me. I'm just a white guy trying to figure out what I can do without harming people.

  • Stop following people who look like you. There are a ton, a SHIT TON of amazing Black people you could follow on Twitter and dev.to. Look them up, promote them, listen to them, try to understand how tough it is for them to navigate the world, and shut the fuck up when they say something.
  • Read, do your research. We, white people, have to get to work. Because we are the ones that sustain this system. We have to know what it means to be antiracist. Again, by following oppressed people, you will learn. I am currently reading How to be an antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. It's a start.

Some articles I think could be useful

If I could give you two people to follow on Twitter, that would be @TatianaTMac and @KimCrayton1. I assure you you will learn a lot of things from them. It will be uncomfortable to confront your own privilege, but it will be worth it.

Tatiana wrote two articles that you should read:

This article about allies from Mia McKenzie is also worth a read:

There you go, get to work white people. We have to do better than this. Realize how much privilege you have, and how difficult it is for so many people to just exist in this world. I'll get back to it myself...

Oh, and by the way, let's not pretend that this issue is only an American problem. It exists in Europe also. You know, we kinda invented racism.

Take care of yourselves, check on your black friends, promote black business and content.

Black Lives Matter

Love ❤️

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leob profile image
leob

Man that's an incredibly brave post, and in my opinion it belongs 100% on dev.to, having observed that dev.to is absolutely an empathetic and inclusive community.

I just want to highlight one quote:

"Realize how much privilege you have, and how difficult it is for so many people to just exist in this world"

I am absolutely convinced that this is true, and it is a gross injustice.

It is a known fact that all sorts of "minorities", whether it's people of color, LGBT persons, or women (in many situations) need to be 50% more talented and competent, and have to work twice as hard, just to get the same recognition and remuneration in the work place compared to the proverbial privileged straight white male.

I'm convinced that this is real and pervasive, and it is absolutely WRONG - it is a gross injustice, and we should be aware of it, start calling it out, and start eliminating it.

I know it's not about "numbers" but this post got nearly not enough "likes" as it deserves!

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damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset Author

Thank you! We have a lot to learn and to do to improve this world.