I’ve been a writer for a decent amount of time. Be it personally, professionally, or anything in between, writing is what I do. It’s more than a passion for me, it’s a way to not only express myself, but also make sure that all of my thoughts are collected, information is passed on, and everything is set in stone in a nice and organized fashion. When it comes to tech writing, tech journalism, I enjoy the ability to know a company did thing x and how it relates to thing y or thing z they had mentioned in 1980. Knowing the possibilities new tech can have on the future, talking about it, explaining it – I love it all. The same goes for games, but that’s a more gritty topic (basically why Nintendo is king and always will be) that I’ll talk about some other time. However, with a dramatic shift from me making sites, owning them myself, and publishing my own articles, to me looking for jobs in the field, it hits like a truck to look at staff lists and see either no people of color, few people of color, or just a sea of white men. Having the ambition to want to be a part of this entire scene, get ingrained in writing and journalism, only to feel as if you wouldn’t fit in or that you’re not “the ideal candidate” for the job is nothing but disheartening.
Over the years, I’ve become exceptionally privy to websites that lack depth when it comes to having people of color on their teams. The first site that I noticed was BGR. BGR has put up some questionable articles in the past, but to say their site isn’t one of the smaller-yet-respectable ones around when it comes to tech news, information, leaks, and rumors, would be misguided. As one of the first sites I wanted to explore when applying for jobs, this one hit the worst. Their team lacks any people of color or any other groups outside of “white 20s-30s male”. But this post isn’t just about BGR alone. If you name a tech-based site, chances are you see the same kind of results in various degrees throughout. Some have one or two POC writers, some have a plethora, others have none at all and are absurdly brazen about it to the point of tone-deafness or a lack of awareness – possibly both. MobileNations is a team compromised of almost entirely white people. Not just MobileNations themselves, but the entirety of all of the conglomerate’s teams. TouchArcade is a small, tight-knit team, but arguably the leading gaming app blog and one of the only ones to survive when Apple took away the affiliate program. Also almost entirely white with the exceptional of Arnold Kim himself. Every single staff writer at Ars Technica is white aside from their creative director, who identifies as Scorpion from Mortal Kombat. There is a lone sister amongst the team over at TechCrunch. Gizmodo and io9 have a lone brother within their ranks. And TheNextWeb is arguably more white than a blizzard in Boston. All of these sites sit at the forefront of tech, a place that prides itself off its ability to be progressive, by having teams that are enshrouded by one perspective – the white perspective. I’m sure each of these writers has a story to tell that differs from their peers, but they all encapsulate the same demographic.
While looking for ways to make headway into the writing world, the tech sphere, it becomes apparent that as a black man, I don’t fit the expectation. Or that I don’t fit the assumed role of what it means to be a tech writer. This doesn’t dissuade me to pursue a career in writing, but it has to dissuade so many people growing up in 2019, in a time where tech surrounds everything, from wanting to branch into tech writing. Looking for jobs now, places to work, and actually feeling as if I not only belong, but carry my own weight, I try my absolute hardest to find a place that will be welcoming. Honestly, everyone looking for any job anywhere should have the same basic goal – feel welcomed. However, it almost feels as if applying for these jobs at places shrouded by almost all white people would only put me in a best case scenario wherein I’m the “token” employee. That the company can now use me being hired into a team of 10 to say that their company isn’t racist because they’re now 10% black. That I’d be used as an infographic on a monthly diversity report and my employment would only be in jeopardy if they had a backup black person to hire.
These are all bits and pieces from reality. It’s not conjured up, dreamt, or something I’ve fabricated – it’s all readily accessible and seen. It’s never highlighted because who’s going to say anything? We live in a world where tech is at the core of all our interactions. We wake up using an alarm on our phones or one made by a company that specializes in various tech accessories. We get our daily news from notifications on our iPhones. We apply for jobs now through Linkedin and Indeed – not by handing in physical pieces of paper. The majority of communication is held over the internet. We don’t even go to a store to windowshop anymore, we browse it online…and then buy it on Amazon. The world is tech. Regardless of where you’re from, how you’ve been raised, or what you’re used to, how your life has been affected by some foreign force, tech is at the core of it. Tech is at the core of black people’s lives too. Tech is everywhere. The saddest part of it all is that there’s so much of it around us to talk about, but there’s not many of us doing the talking, sadly.