I’m embarrassed by this comment out of Silicon Valley about race

by jeffhilimire on February 9, 2013

Jason Calacanis just doesn’t get it, and I’m afraid his opinion is unfortunately not just his own but rather that of most successful white people (not just limited to those in the technology sector). All due respect to those of you that do get it, but my guess is if you look around at your other successful white friends, they’d likely share Jason’s feelings.

Some of the things he says in his blog post and on Twitter, in response to a piece about the state of race in tech journalism by Jamelle Bouie:

  • When I came in the game I made my own lane @jbouie – I didn’t wait for a break, I broke the rules. You’re underestimating the hustle.
  • Anyone can break into tech blogging. Anyone. 
  • You can sit there and look backwards at the racist old-world, or you can look forward and create the new post-race world. 

And possibly the worst of his comments:

  • Sadly, we live in a world where race still is an issue because some folks haven’t made the leap. Those folks are old and dying in many, perhaps most, cases.

Clearly he’s blind to what is really happening in this country and is essentially calling for everyone to just stop talking about race at all. As if discussing it was actually the real problem.

I won’t try to express it better than this guy puts it in response to Jason’s comments:

White logic: I have a great job and I worked from my white suburban background despite my well-educated and professionally employed parents not buying me the color car I ASKED for for my birthday. Thus a poor black girl with a cleft pallet can break away from her underfunded school and lawfully ignored inner-city block to do the same. All they have to do is work hard and start a blog! I don’t see any reason why not. Slavery was over years ago. Black people ran out of excuses the day after it was abolished. 

That’s the point, Jason. It’s not that people are sitting around in Silicon Valley, or the rest of the United States, saying that they won’t hire someone or give them a chance because of their skin color (although that still does exist). It’s the forgotten people that aren’t ever going to be given a chance. The ones that are born into situations that do not allow them to just roll up their sleeves and work hard and then magically find themselves at the same table as the Stanford and Harvard dropouts coming up with the next big thing.

It’s a disease that our country seems resistant to tackle, and its opinions like this from people in positions of huge power and influence that push us further and further from a just and equal society.

Those that read this blog (and haven’t unsubscribed yet as I continue to talk about such things, thanks for sticking around), will know that I’m white and only recently have I had my eyes opened to the realities of the world we live in. So I can understand some of what Jason says and I’m happy he expresses those opinions, allowing people to see just how distorted the view of reality is from the seats of the privileged class.

It is my hope to become a part of the solution and no longer a part of the problem.

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  • hazybuck

    Jeff, I agree with most of your comments – and won’t unsubscribe. Freedom of speech, and learning from our differences in opinion, is one of my favorite things!

    However, I’m confused about your ‘priviledged seat’ comment? Is the assumption that the priviledged seat is issued when we’re born a white American?

    If that’s the case, please understand that many whites, including myself, were not issued that ‘priviledged seat’ upon birth. I was raised in an impoverished, physically abusive, alcoholic household. Many weeks, our groceries were large quantities of dented unmarked can goods that my alcoholic father bought on the cheap so he’d still have money for booze. Some were dog food, some were (miracle!!) Chef Boyardee. If need be, I can match most folks in a sad story discussion.

    However, my theory is that everyone has stuff that happens in their life. It’s what you do with that ‘stuff’ that matters – wait for someone else to do something for you (I’m horrible at this!), take it on Jerry Springer (don’t care for his theatrics), or transform those experiences into strong fibers in the fabric of your life tapestry (my choice).

    I’ve lived on my own since I was 17, supporting myself and now my family. I’ve worked hard and reminded myself every day that I’d never repeat my beginnings. Ever. It’s what drives me and keeps me going.

    While there was certainly no magic involved, and I’ve never found myself at a table of Harvard / Stanford dropouts (that I know of), I believe I’ve done well for my family and myself. And I’ve done it one ‘determined, hard work’ step at a time.

    While I do believe race should be a non entity, and I pray for that day to come. We’re certainly not there yet. We can begin the change with our own actions in the hope that we impact others.
    In closing, I ask that you remove race from your perceptions – not all of the ‘forgotten’ are black – or red, or yellow, or tan.

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