A tape-up and a nice tie won’t keep the bullets away from our black bodies. Pulling our pants up and aligning our values to the military sounds ridiculous on its face as well. Changing our aliases to more Euro-centric names might lead to more jobs, but won’t help us keep our jobs longer than our white counterparts, much less give us that elusive promotion. Staying up past our bedtimes won’t make us more resilient; if anything, lack of sleep would add more stressors to a community already suffering from a myriad of diseases and preventable conditions. Speaking in the King’s English won’t pause the school-to-prison pipeline and the lack of wraparound supports our schools need to survive the trauma associated with their lives.
This ethos is the reason why his horrific tweet exists. If vulnerable communities allow swindlers to peddle their petulance across our hoods, we’ll continue to see his rendition of respectability politics police the ways and means that black culture exists. There’s plenty of money to be made in telling everyone black kids, specifically boys, need to be controlled and managed. That’s why so many schools militarize their pedagogy so they can remove any part of a child’s personality that would get in the way of their learning, as if personality, and not systemic racism, is obstructing students of color from learning. But, because “it’s all about results,” they invert Malcolm X’s decree and instill conservative values onto our children by any means, even if that means bringing in the actual military.
…ust don’t mess with the status quo that may someday let me buy a mega-yacht. Maybe Graham is right; maybe all those open source and government-funded tech triumphs belong to the past, and the only economic model that guarantees continuous innovation now is the one where the winners walk away with billions. But isn’t it worth investigating alternatives? Isn’t the defining ethos of the tech sector its willingness to challenge the existing models, experiment with new ways of doing things? The good news is that Silicon Valley happens to be much more committed to exploring new and more equitable models of compensation than just about any other industry in the country. The bad news is that Paul Graham has made that commitment much harder to see.