Why The “Black” Techies and not just “Techies”?

I’ve gotten this question quite a few times, usually from my Caucasian friends. To be fair, I understand the intent behind the question. Pointing out the ethnicity of our group seems needlessly divisive on the surface and may make other people who aren’t black feel alienated. That’s actually furthest from the truth but let me explain a little bit.

I have been in the consumer electronics/technology field for at least 15 years. In those years, I’ve been to numerous trade shows like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Black Hat (and DEFCON) security conferences, and various academic conferences. The thing you quickly see is that the world of technology is dominated by white and Asian males. And to show that I’m not just making that up, here are some actual statistics:

These stats come from a 2014 study done by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As you can see, about 68% of the people in “High Tech” industries are white while just 7% are black. Things haven’t really changed in six years, unfortunately. According a recent Wired article:

The numbers are particularly stark among technical workers—the coders, engineers, and data scientists who make these companies hum. At Google and Microsoft, the share of US technical employees who are black or Latinx rose by less than a percentage point since 2014. The share of black technical workers at Apple is unchanged at 6 percent, less than half blacks’ 13 percent share of the US population.

After reading this, I’d imagine that some may respond with, “Well David, whites still comprise a majority of the U.S. population so it would make sense for there to be more white people than minorities”. And to be honest, I’d be inclined to agree with you but the problem is that for many people, perception is reality.

Imagine you’re a 10-year-old black boy or girl living in the 1950s. You watch TV and see only white people in your favorite TV shows, movies, and cartoons. You read a newspaper or magazine and only see white people in the pictures. You see models for clothing apparel and shoes, again, white people. As time goes on, you start to subconsciously think that the beauty standard you see (blond/brunette hair, fair skin, blue eyes) is what is considered attractive. Even though you know there are plenty of attractive people who look like you, you don’t see them on TV or magazines so they must not be good enough.

Jump back to 2020 and it’s a similar thing in the tech world. Ask the average person who a famous tech person is and they’re more likely to say Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, or Tim Cook. But there is good news. Thanks to platforms like YouTube, black techies are slowly becoming more commonplace and mainstream. Marques Brownlee aka MKBHD, Judner Aura aka UrAvgConsumer, Flossy Carter, Mark Watson aka SoldierKnowsBest, and Kevin the Tech Ninja are some of the most well known “TechTubers” out there.

The key word in this discussion is representation. The goal is not to replace white people with black people or bring down the number of whites in technology. That would be hypocritical. The point is to increase the visibility and representation of blacks in the technology space so that other black people will see that and perhaps pursue a career in the tech space.

The goal of The Black Techies Podcast is to provide a platform where black techies and geeks can converse about the latest happenings in the tech/gaming/geek world and how it affects the wider black community.

Our white listeners and readers are certainly encouraged to listen to our podcast and share it! Personally, I think that the more we are exposed to people who don’t look or think like us, the more well-rounded it makes us. In the end, technology is a tool we can use to advance human civilization but that can only happen when everyone gets a chance to participate.

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