A Black Man Walks Into the San Francisco CTO Summit…

Let’s start off with the premise that in a world of freedom, and equal treatment, you do not necessarily get equal outcomes.

Let’s also posit, for the moment, that race is an arbitrary social construct, that has no bearing on a person’s innate worth, experience, or ability.

Given those two hypothetical premises, is it possible that culturally identifying oneself as “african-american” leads to less participation in tech fields by choice? That is to say, you could very well have had three dozen light-skinned ancestors of American slaves in the audience, who did not culturally identify as “african-american”, and instead embraced a different culture, voluntarily chose a different identity, even though they had just as much oppressed ancestry as any one of their cousins who made a different choice.

The reason why I bring up this hypothetical is because without specificity, the word “inclusion” is pernicious. It becomes either a brown paper bag test, without any sort of rational basis, or it insists on integrating a culture that may very well disdain the academic and intellectual achievement required for success. Neither of those advances any social utility.

Now, perhaps you disagree with one of my premises — perhaps you feel that equality is defined by equal outcomes (caused by disparate treatment), or perhaps you believe that there is a spiritual, and biological basis for racial categories. If that’s where we part ways, I understand your point of view even if I disagree with it.

But if you agree with my premises, then I think perhaps a better way to achieve meaningful “inclusion” is to change the “african-american” culture. Now, you may possibly distinguish between middle-class cultural “african-americans” and lower-class cultural “african-americans” as being distinct, in which case you might have different prescriptions for the two socio-economic strata, but ultimately, if you want cultural “african-americans” in tech, you need to be talking to them. You need to be addressing the anti-intellectual, anti-academic, victimhood-based, violence-based culture of the inner cities. You need to manage to convince cultural “african-americans” that speaking improper english does not make you a more authentic “african-american”, that going to the opera and listening to old white composers does not make you less of an authentic “african-american”, and that they can choose a culture beyond what they currently experience.

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