Tech Racism, Wealth and Redistribution

On June 25, 2018, REVEAL (from the Center for Investigative Reporting) released this analysis of diversity in 177 of the largest San Francisco Bay Area tech firms, "Here’s the Clearest Picture of Silicon Valley’s Diversity Yet: It’s Bad. But Some Companies Are Doing Less Bad." Much of the data on diversity had to be gained through Freedom of Information Act filings.

The report in part shows that those African-American and Latinx workers employed by these companies are over-represented in much lower paying support positions. This is not because of the often claimed 'pipeline problem' - where there are not enough African-American and Latinx workers educated in computer science. Diversity consultant Romero clarifies: "often, the pipeline has more diversity than the current employee population, and that’s particularly true when you look at race and ethnicity.”

The net effect is that African-American and Latinx workers are displaced or even made homeless (especially support staff), as higher paying employees have displaced them.

A further look at some of the very disturbing impacts of racism and tech can be found in Safiya Umoja Noble's book "Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism," published in February, 2018. Noble analyzes how Google algorithms "reinforce oppressive social relationships and enact new modes of racial profiling" - which Noble calls technological redlining and finds on the rise. Noble offers suggestions for engagement by social actors and the general public in creating regulatory frameworks to address these new forms of racist oppression - particularly in this era of artificial intelligence and disinformation.

The effect of racism, resulting poverty, and displacement is addressed in POOR Magazine's tours, where poor and Indigenous people tour wealthy areas and ask those wealthy individuals to redistribute their money and assets. In this video, the tour begins at Google, and participants share demands for a Technology-fueled reparations/equity fund for residents made homeless by the tech sector. A great initiative. Bravo!