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Shady Ghost in the Machine

Confederacy of the Machine
Having worked in the high tech industry for the past 20 years I'm always amazed when a report comes out with the shocking news that just 1.7% of Twitters employees are black. Let me say up front that in my time some of the best and brightest people I've worked with, beside and for have been black but go to any IT trade show, analysts conference, consulting firm, back office MIS department and you'll be playing Where's Black Waldo to spot them. There are precious few black people in Info Tech and the powers that be seem to like that just fine. Not because any of those powers are white supremacists - God knows that every other ethnic minority floods the zone in high tech companies and that, except for black people, it is a New World polyglot of diversity - a true multi-ethnic, multi-national, multi-everything society that worships the machine. They just don't hire black people - as Mother Jones points out, The Combined Black Workforces of Google, Facebook, and Twitter Could Fit on a Single Jumbo Jet.

Not that the machine doesn't jump through hoop after hoop to obfuscate the lopsided racial demographics of it's work force - starting in high school, through college and into the "real world" of Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley and all the silicon in-between the digerati ain't black and the digerati seem to like it that way - one might even suspect that it's one reason they became digerati in the first place. Maybe there's a TED Talk that can explain it to me. Check out how MIT retouches the issue for public consumption - Foreign students don't have an ethnicity (wow!)

MIT scientists(?) try to do demographics

But this statistic is even more amazing - Twitter's users are 27% black, 25% Hispanic, 21% white. Over 50% of Twitter's users are black or Hispanic! Who knew (I guess Twitter does) and what does that say about tweeting as a social media or social construct? White(ish) people are trying to figure it out here and there and over there but it all starts to sound like modern anthropology when you stand back and look at the forest rather than the trees. Why do black people do anything? Is the way black people tweet different from the way Hispanic or white people tweet - I mean REALLY different?

Well, the answer is yes - and it's fucking awesome! I'd say that black people are the only ethnicity on the planet who actually understand how to use Twitter.
"Perhaps the most significant contribution of Black Twitter is that it increases visibility of black people online, and in doing so, dismantles the idea that white is standard and everything else is “other.” It’s a radical demand for acceptance by simply existing — or sometimes dominating — in a space and being yourself, without apology or explanation."
Perhaps they are the last free people in America who are comfortable just "being yourself" with no "apology or explanation." In other words, they just throw whatever they damn well please up on Twitter and have a good laugh or insult someone or tell it like it is with out any fear of having their account frozen or being dragged in front of the thought police for interrogation. This is not the case for the pale digerati who must measure every tweet with a numberless ruler for fear of mis-tweeting and killing their carrier or suffering social media exile. I can envision the executive leadership meeting at Twitter now:
Black Twitter @ Twitter
GABRIEL STRICKER: "Look, we've got to talk about the inflammatory comments some of our users are making about the gay marriage ruling last week. Words going to get out and we'll have to deal with it somehow." 
JACK DORSEY: "What are you talking about Gabe? My feed was all rainbows over the weekend." 
GABRIEL STRICKER: "Well, it was, um... there were a lot of insensitive tweets from some users that you might not have seen. I've been going over a few of them based on complaints we've received. A lot of anger and even some demands that we cancel accounts." 
KEVIN WEIL: "Well, what do they say? We can cancel accounts if someone steps over the line." 
GABRIEL STRICKER: "I really don't know. Here, you take a look and see if you can understand this gibberish? It's all from our African American users and I, um, I just don't get it." 
ANTHONY NOTO: "Jesus, Stricker, stop right there. Your talking about a quarter of our user base and our most active customers. Pull your head out of your Maoist ass for once and understand that we're running a business here." 
JACK DORSEY: "Vijaya, do you think there's anything here that could hurt us?" 
VIJAYA GADDE: "How the fuck should I know? I'm not black." 
JACK DORSEY: "No, of course not, I didn't mean to imply that you were, but you are our legal council so I need you to figure out what our exposure is on this." 
VIJAYA GADDE: "Skip, are there any black people in the office today? I'll have to sit down with one of them and get a translation." 
BRIAN “SKIP” SCHIPPER: "Um, I'll have to look into that, I guess we can pull Jasmine from reception, but I'm not sure she'll be much help. She lives in Palo Alto." 
JACK DORSEY: "OK, good, well let's get to the bottom of it and while you're at it see if any of those people might want to work here because we're getting hammered in the press over diversity." 
BRIAN “SKIP” SCHIPPER: "Jack, there's no way we're going to hire any of these people. They'd never pass the Employee Diversity Training Module."
 Just another day in the office for the digerati - #gofuckyouselves

Maybe people are friendlier over at Google.


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