I'm of North African descent, born and raised in france and this passage really hit home.
> I don't really know that there's any solution to this, it's just something we have to live with.
Unfortunately there isn't. I don't know much about the American social structure and context, but over here, colonialist views are very much embedded into the collective subconscious, leading to sometimes very despicable behaviour (even though it may not be malicious).
The thing I find the most difficult is to suppress the urge of turning this into a "Us vs Them" thing because reality is much more complex than what we perceive but living with an inner "respectability police officer" can become extremely tiring. All of this to say that I choose to ignore the noise and focus on the positive. At the end of the day, we live in an era where this is how the game is played and we've been dealt a bad hand. I accept it and will do everything I can to help create a world where my children don't have to go through the same things as me.
I will end my comment with a piece of actionable advice anybody in a similar position might benefit from: Make yourself visible. I say this because a lot of the younger kids in my racial group (north west/west africa) don't even consider this industry as a viable career option even though they may have an interest or a strong ability. They just dismiss the possibility entirely. This doesn't mean we have to force our kids to become SWDs/POs/PMs/<insert tech job du jour>s but making yourself visible (via youtube videos, conference talks, going to local schools to introduce your job ...) can have a massive impact in having those kids think "Hey he/she looks like me, maybe I can follow a similar path".
EDIT: added last paragraph
That pretty well describes the majority of American culture on this issue, as I understand it. There are those who are malicious, but I don't think they are much larger a minority than anywhere else.
I probably share much more with a Moroccan software engineer than I do with a local white blue collar worker.
Although with the engineers that studied in North africa (which we have a lot of in software), I feel closer to the kind that embraced french lifestyle and obviously plan on aging here, than those who seem to regret their homeland and stick to its traditions and look like they're just cashing in.
But I get it. I'd probably look the same if I had to go live in the US.
Of course, it didnt work. Regardless of how nice and polite W.E.B. Du Bois was, the state department still revoked his passport for his uncomfortable habit of reporting systemic racism in America to European and British intellectuals.
Dont feel like you owe people anything. Be yourself. Speaking as a card-carrying white male who works as an engine mechanic, the thing that makes an industry suck (or anything for that matter) is racists. Rebuilding the drivetrain on a box truck is hard work, but its doubly unpleasant having to listen to some old grease-monkey lecture you on what they think about "the negro."
If it was only just that, its actually a lot more that. You have prove that you have un-blackened yourself. Dissociate from your communities, and have renounced the community's ways(so-called).
More like the other side needs to be made to feel you are one among them.
It's a soul crushing exercise. Its undoing of one's identity. And it's very humiliating to undergo all this.
Which isn't to devalue your experience - speech patterns in particular are likely an area where you have to code-switch much more drastically than, say, northern whites.
You have just described my entire professional life. It feels great to know I'm not alone in this boat. Much empathy for you and what you're going through at the moment.
> Dissociate from your communities, and have renounced the community's ways(so-called)
This is one of the core reasons why I'm seriously considering starting my own company.
People can grasp hate, and violence. But they can't really see the effects of simply seeing someone as "other" based on race. And it's everywhere in the US.
It's strange. Americans just don't have deep vocabulary for ethnicity, really. It's all just race.
You could claim that Black otherness has special characteristics and this being hackernews I would assume good faith and believe you that racism in its non-outward facet is palpable and ethically bad. But that's not what you said -- you said people compartmentalize and that's bad period. That's an interesting kind of misguided.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr is spot-on in his frustration with "the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."
And its not just racism, its sexism, classism, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia, child soldiers in Africa, terrorism abroad, FGM, corruption, homelessness, child abuse, cartel violence, drug epidemics... Seriously impossible to grasp. And moreover, the vast majority of people do not publicly observe offenses at the same rate as people who receive offenses so most of the time its just concerns that one reads off the internet or hears second hand. All this stress and empathy over things that don't even exist in your sights... I know many people will think this is a gross argument, that I am saying to remain ignorant or inactive while people are being oppressed, but at some point you have to just throw your hands up, resolve to do the right thing when you encounter a problem and live your own life.
This problem is something that ted kaczynski wrote about in detail and I think its an even more important problem now with information spreading so quickly, so much call to activism, and even dramatization of issues.
I think the underlying assumption is that a "racist" is someone who spouts bigotry 24/7, and that racism is black and white (pardon the pun) rather than a spectrum, where even an otherwise "decent" person can act or say something racist on occasion. This is why the common refrain after a person does a thing that is blatantly racist is "I am not racist - everyone who knows me knows this is not who I am" despite the empirical evidence.
It was a smart and funny talk, and I'm now looking forward to reading her book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07638ZFN1
In interviews I got a lot of "culture" questions where younger folks who I went to school with who interviewed at the same place ... reported getting no such questions. It's easy to imagine that is about age.
Another classmate actually had a recruiter straight up say his age was a concern, when he asked her to repeat that, she straight up repeated it apparently having no clue how wrong it was.
Not exactly the same as race, but I feel like I have to prove myself a bit more all the time.
I do come off rather young in person, but my resume is clear about my work experience, graduation date and so on. Even with the one case where I suspected age discrimination was at play it was only after the fact when the recruiter said the company passed because they decided to go with someone more 'malleable' (for a sr. role, mind you) where the average engineer was probably about 25 yo.
Not saying it's not an issue, there's many reports out there of people experiencing it, but perhaps it's more restricted to the valley or not quite as common as implied. I say this as someone who was nervous about entering my 40s for this reason alone and have been pleasantly surprised to find it to be a non-issue for myself.
When my friend visited me in Silicon Valley he told me it's not that diverse -- at least not in the way we would want diversity to work. He told me that next time I go out to eat, I should look through the windows of all the nice restaurants I walk by and see who the customers are and who the workers are. My friend is right. There are under and upper classes in SV and it's often clustered by race. I never noticed because I'm Asian and I'm in the group that benefited.
Not much difference in the end of course, and still a major societal issue. But a different one.
Greenwood was a prosperous black area near Tulsa, doing so well that it was known as "Black Wall Street". White resentment eventually boiled over and 35 blocks were burned to the ground. Hundreds were killed, and it included many horrors, including white people using then-new airplanes to firebomb the neighborhood from above.
If you read Loewen's "Sundown Towns" you can find plenty more incidents where white resentment of black success led to oppression, violence, and sometimes death.
E.g. I'm naturally gregarious, will chat up folks in line at the gas station buying a Coke etc. I noticed one day I didn't chat up anybody that didn't look like me. So I started.
Your feelings are valid but also can be misplaced at the same time. I think it is a poor way to start the day assuming everybody is going to think the worse is you. That may be something a support group or therapy might help with.
I say this comming from a place where I suffered the same issues. And found changing my attitude actually changed how I viewed other people.
Please don't take my reply as a attack on you. I simply feel your reply reflects similar views I had held at one point in life. And I found not worrying and not setting expectations on my peers really helped me to feel at home in situations that made me feel much like you describe.
On the other hand I can't possibly know your entire story from a small bit you shared.
While I evaluate people I interact with on a individual level, I often have stereotypes in my head about people I don't directly interact with.
When I see people of color or women in the industry, my first thought is always "ah yes, diversity".
When I see white dudes I think aboit what he does and knows.
While this may be true, I find the problem you are describing to be much worse for immigrants (of every colour and race) who speak with thick accent. https://qz.com/624335/the-reason-you-discriminate-against-fo...
Obviously it would be foolish to think that no one out there is prejudiced, or that there are no systematic problems in certain places, but based on what you said here it sounds like you have not so much encountered these situations personally, rather you have lived in fear of encountering them.
It may very well be self-fulfilling. But my point is that this issue doesn't exist for white people. You can live with the fear of impostor syndrome and not feeling qualified enough, etc. But your completely unchangeable physical appearance does not contribute to that. Every shortcoming that could possibly exclude you from any job is within your control to fix and work on, whereas we will always be left with this single unpredictable variable no matter what.
Here it is again: there are many completely unchangeable physical appearance features that can afflict anyone, not just people of color. The claim that every shortcoming is within your control to fix, is overstated.
I didn't mean to minimize the societal issue addressed; just this hyperbolic comment.
Especially not when the topic is inflammatory and the discussion has managed to remain civil so far. Then it's vandalism, if not arson.
In my opinion, humans are inherently xenophobic and suspicious of anything that is unfamiliar or an outlier. Evolution shaped us this way. So you cannot eradicate all the pain, fear and suffering caused by xenophobia, not by a long shot. People with negative traits (in other people's eyes) need to learn to live with them, and they do it all the time. I am not by any means arguing for racism, of course. We still need to teach that racism is bad, but at the same time we should ask ourselves: are we blowing this thing out of proportions? If we as a society are already near the point of maximum tolerance, then insisting on further corrective measures (such as so called "affirmative action", i.e. discrimination to groups seen as the oppressors) may make things worse for everyone by raising resentment and heating up the hate as opposed to reducing it.
If you're interested in moving beyond that, I'd suggest starting with the recent books from DiAngelo  and Oluo . Or for a more personal take, the recent memoir from Julie Lythcott-Haims is good at conveying how pervasive this stuff is, and how much pain that causes.
I have a new team member joining us in a couple weeks and he's black. My intent is to try damn hard to completely ignore that fact, without appearing to be ignoring it, if that makes any sense. Where I live is predominantly white, so he definitely will stand out. As far as I can remember, there is exactly one other black employee on the entire floor.
I'm probably just worrying for nothing. We really do have a team of good people and I'm not just saying that.
Let your coworker come to you as they are. Take them to coffee, get to know them, and ask how you can help them feel welcome and be at their best at work. Sounds like a lot of work and effort on your part, but the burden is on you the majority to earn back the trust broken by lived experience.
This is also not guaranteed to work. You’re fighting against a mindset developed over someone’s lifetime that’s akin to an alarm that you might think is noisy and not tuned properly but has become necessary for this person’s survival and psychological safety because they face threats to those things at a frequency and level you never have to see.
Racism isn’t the act of acknowledging someone’s otherness, it’s letting that otherness drive your interactions with someone and not giving them the opportunity to talk about who they are as a person. Racism is every time you go to lunch, it’s a barbecue place and you don’t invite your coworker because you don’t want them to think you’re stereotyping but you also don’t want to talk to them so you just go without them anyway without asking your coworker if they want to come because it’s easier. Racism isn’t the act of starting the uncomfortable conversations, it’s not giving those conversations a time and place to happen at all.
A single person can not be a majority, and claiming someone has a responsibility to treat someone with kid gloves because they are a member of the majority race is pretty extreme. I really have a hard time believing someone actually believes the thoughts expressed in this post. Doing any of this in your workplace is a terrible idea.
I beg to differ. In Asia being white is a massive advantage. It's literally the reverse of what you describe. It weirds me out tbh. Sorry you have to deal with the opposite.
I don’t know how we get there but we eventually need to just get over skin color. When we interact with other people we generally don’t even notice or think about what color eyes or what their nose shape is. We should be able to get to that point regarding all aspects of physical appearance.
I've personally worked with a lot of great Indian developers (H1Bs, naturalized U.S. citizens, and native born U.S. citizens). I've never worked with an Indian outsourcing firm, but I've also never heard anything good about them from people who have.
In fact, let me tell a story. I was once working at a large, successful tech company as a manager. One of my interns was black. Super sharp, very personable, in an ivy league college, and, as will become relevant, a very sharp dresser. The average white male developer wore a t-shirt and a hoodie; he wore nice, stylish collared shirts. Every day he looked good.
Between our area and the nearest kitchenette was an elevator lobby. One day, he gets up to get more coffee, walks into the elevator lobby, goes to the other side, and realizes he left his badge on his desk. He is now trapped.
Now I had done that exact same thing more than once. What happened to me? Well, I waited around for somebody to walk by, tapped on the door, and said, "So sorry, I just left my badge on my desk." They'd smile in recognition, say something pleasant, and wave me in.
What happened to him in the same situation? He got the third degree. Who was he? Who did he work for? What did he work on? How long had he worked there? Etc, etc. It was clear the (white) guy he was talking to was suspicious that he didn't belong there, that he was not the programmer intern he said he was.
When he got back to his desk he looked distressed. I, not wanting my interns to be unhappy, pried a bit. He told me the story, leaving out any details on the person. He was confident it was unconscious bias; he didn't think his fellow programmer meant harm and didn't want to get him in trouble. But still, it bothered him. Even in this supposedly very cerebral, very liberal place, people immediately saw him as not belonging.
That of course wouldn't have happened if he'd had me with him. Because if I, a white person, were treating him as if he belonged, then he would have been seen as belonging there by the other white people.
Now as a good corporate citizen I (with his permission) mentioned this to HR. I thought they'd want to know that an unconscious bias incident had happened. No names, nobody getting in trouble. Just letting them know so they could tally it and, if the numbers warranted, give more training on unconscious bias. Not just for interviews, which we already had, but more generally.
I quickly got a reply back from a high-up HR lawyer, who was entirely defensive. Their main point was that surely this (anonymous) white person couldn't have meant anything by it, that there was no legal problem here. Well duh, I used the words "unconscious bias", so of course I knew there was nothing meant by it. I just wanted them to take it seriously, because actual harm had been done. But they gave me the brush-off.
Happily, I also talked to the black employee resource group, who jumped on it. The intern ended up feeling heard and that the incident was taken seriously. Which was a relief to me. But it made me aware how often this sort of nonsense happened, and how rarely the harm it does to my black colleagues gets taken at all seriously.
This is a conflict between separate attempts to solve the problem.
On the one hand there is yours -- if we report this when it happens then having the information will aid in solving the problem.
On the other hand, there are laws creating liability for companies that discriminate against employees. Someone could use records like this against the company in court, so you are creating undesirable liability for the company by reporting it.
This is a common problem. If you allow plaintiffs to use a company's records against them, they either stop keeping them or the record keeping becomes a compliance issue driven by lawyers concerned with corporate liability, which then takes precedence over other concerns like using the information to meticulously measure and resolve issues.
Nobody likes to admit that trade offs like this exist, but it takes admitting that they do to get to the point of being able to evaluate which method is more effective and choosing between them.
Fortunately there is a win-win solution to this - unconscious bias training! Minority employee and manager's lives get a little easier, company shows that it cares and made corrective/CYA action, any employee who discriminates on race will clearly be doing it against company policy. Pretending like it didn't happen is the worst policy, IMO, because it gives an impression of condoning such behaviour, which creates more liability.
It's not a win if unconscious bias training doesn't actually work. I have yet to see it change the behavior of racist people. Do you have any papers that show that it works?
So far it just seems like a way for a company to cover their ass via a PR stunt that disrupts a bunch of employees' days.
> So far it just seems like a way for a company to cover their ass via a PR stunt that disrupts a bunch of employees' days.
Quick question - do you feel the same about sexual harassment training? I think it's good for every employee to be clear on the common baseline on what behavior the company deems unacceptable and the consequences thereof.
Let's detach this from racism for a moment, and hypothesize on ethics. A number of companies have/had issues with staff members virtually stalking users. Would you rather colleagues not report such incidents for fear of creating legal liability? Should the companies not have a policy against this and offer training on ethical handling of user data? No amount of company training will cure an engineer's creepiness, but drawing lines in the sand is important - it might prevent creepy behavior while they are on the clock - even if it may look like its CYA.
Things that come from a CYA perspective are compromised. The motivation is to check a box at the lowest available cost, which is not the recipe for competence. It's not hard to screw something like that up and end up training people to consciously consider race when making decisions.
There is legitimately a trade off between honestly convincing people to care about something and passing laws requiring them to appear to care about it under penalty of financial liability.
Oh, wait. Maybe we're talking about different problems. My problem is my intern having a bad experience due to unconscious racial bias. What problem are you trying to solve?
Lawyers exist to mitigate legal risks, not to solve racism. The parent was just pointing out that anything documented that admits racism occurred creates legal liability. The triggered the lawyers defense mechanisms where they need to clearly document that there was no discrimination in the legal sense.
So the point is that there needs to be a way to report unconscious bias events for data points that don't put the company at legal risk just by having them on record.
This is equivalent to "solving" software defects by refusing to record the bug because somebody is scared of a quality lawsuit. It not only doesn't help, it is very likely to make the problem worse.
That's why it's a conflict. The map is not the territory. If you give them an incentive to reduce reports of discrimination, they will have an incentive to reduce reports of discrimination. Which interferes with other methods that require meticulous reporting.
Perhaps you could do an experiment!
Absent fMRI recordings from the elevator lobby, I of course cannot prove that it was unconscious racial bias. But we can't prove most things in life with that level of evidence. Nevertheless, we have to operate in a complex and dynamic world. This is my best interpretation of events. It was also the best interpretation of the person present, of my boss, and of several other people in the company I discussed this with.
I guess my point is we're talking about unconscious bias, and your story seems like it could be an example of just that. If it's unconscious you wouldn't know -- we can assume something is racist that really isn't.
If we can't know, how can we approach these situations and be sure we're without bias; particularly if we want to call others out for their [apparent] unwarranted biases.
An example, a neighbour is a bit discomfiting to me, my wife refuses to be alone in his presence, but he's Polish; so is she xenophobic, or is he a jerk (or both I guess). He's the only Pole in our street, an outside observer could easily conclude she was being xenophobic.
Well-dressed is "over-dressed" if everyone else is wearing t-shirts.
Now it's my turn to ask a question: why was it your immediate reflex to (rudely and dismissively) justify a situation that you know nothing about?
Because your story, as told, leaves that pretty massive gap. A supervisor in charge of interns being recognized vs the temporary intern not being recognized is the occam's razor answer that also popped into my head as well. The fact that you didn't offer any evidence as part of the story to explain why the obvious answer wasn't the answer does raise the question of whether or not that had occurred to you.
Oh, so "do you have some kind of telepathic mind reading powers" was a sincere query as to my abilities? Because in your experience it is a common thing that actually happens?
> since your story reads like fiction to me
Ah, this is another example of your politeness? Saying that it seems like a long-time participant posting under his real-world identity is just making things up? You will have to tell me more about which etiquette manual is telling you that assuming somebody is a liar is the friendly thing to do.
I'm not sure that reporting individual incidents of this to an HR department and causing resentment and division between people over these things is really worthwhile. It's just a fact of life as much as any other overarching, long running cultural tradition. Things are changing, but it's simply a generational issue that we are left with the legacy of institutionalized racism, purposely designed to legitimize industrial scale human exploitation.
But personally, I plan to raise a ruckus like this whenever I get the chance. MLK made a strong argument for creating a "constructive tension" . It was his theory that the necessary changes don't just happen, but require the discomfort of the people with the power to fix things. If my intern had wanted to let things lie, I certainly would have. But since he was ok with me reporting it, I saw it as my duty. To society certainly, but also to the company. They had a serious diversity effort and worked hard to give interns a good experience. I would have been negligent had I let an unconscious mistake from one employee undermine that.
Plus, as a white dude, it's easier for me to advocate for these changes. Not only because of my default privilege, but because I'm seen as a disinterested party. I never get accused of "playing the race card" or "misandry" when I come out against some racist or sexist nonsense. So I hope more white people will put their shoulders to the wheel here.
They would likely get the same "third degree" treatment. Why? Is it because global capitalism does not like football uniforms?
The more likely reason is that while one may not know every person in the company, they have a general idea of what the company composition is. One likely knows that this particular company does not have a lot of disabled people, or people who wear football uniforms, or black people. So anyone who does not fit the common profile will get more scrutiny.
This of course leaves the question of why isn't a black person common in the software company. I don't know an answer to that. Anecdotally, this starts at high school, if not earlier -- there were no black people in my high school calculus class for example, despite the school having ~25% of black students.
Two, I think your analogy is ridiculous. He was dressed perfectly well for the environment.
Three, he was not "visually distinct"; the skin albedo of African-Americans is of a similar range to South Asians. He was racially distinct.
Four, if you don't have any idea why there are fewer black people in high status jobs in America, let me suggest you read some history and sociology. This is a well-studied topic. Just in this thread I've mentioned four different books, any one of which would be a good starting point for you.
> Three, he was not "visually distinct"; the skin albedo of African-Americans is of a similar range to South Asians. He was racially distinct.
Are you saying that people who are racially distinct are not also visually distinct? I do not think this is the case. Skin albedo is not the only important thing, people also look a the face, so face features matter too.
Or are you saying that someone who is visually distinct, but not racially unusual, would not get special treatment? For example, imagine that you worked in the company for a long time, and never saw a man in wheelchair. Suddenly, there is a man in wheelchair asking to be let in. Would you let him in? Or would you ask him some questions to make sure he really works there?
> Four, if you don't have any idea why there are fewer black people in high status jobs in America, ...
I am much more interested why there were no black people in my high school calculus class (and similarly, disproportionately few black people in my college computer science classes) -- because it is pretty clear to me that if you did not take calculus in high school, the chances of you becoming a programmer are very slim.
I just googled and found this article: http://www.jbhe.com/features/49_college_admissions-test.html . That article, says the reasons are racist teachers, black parents, other black students, black neighborhoods, racist guidance counselors. As someone who is not teaching children in any capacity, I am not sure how can I help there. Sure, I can read the books so I feel more guilty -- but I am not sure how will it help to get more black students into the calculus classes.
I could envision a similar scenario happening to the well-dressed white NBA player who forgot his badge and the staff of the practice gym are questioning if he really works there vs. tall black dude with hoodie and sweatband who gets let in right away because he doesn't look out of the ordinary.
Or males in the nursing. Or females in construction. The list goes on.
This is from what is said to be the post in question, cached here: https://outline.com/RVSLKq
"On a personal note, at least two or three times a day, every day, a colleague at MPK [Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park] will look directly at me and tap or hold their wallet or shove their hands down their pocket to clutch it tightly until I pass. The frequency is even higher when walking through Classic campus or Building 20. To feel like an oddity at your own place of employment because of the color of your skin while passing posters reminding you to be your authentic self feels in itself inauthentic."
So I'm a pretty typical privileged white guy working for Facebook at MPK. I care about diversity, and more importantly, I acknowledge these kinds of problem, even without knowing most of the details.
This just blows me away:
"...a colleague ... will look directly at me and tap or hold their wallet or shove their hands down their pocket to clutch it tightly until I pass..."
So first, I'll just ask: does this mirror your experience?
Can you talk more about that?
What can I do to help my peers not be physically afraid of black people??
Thanks for your attention.
As a brown muslim from India, let me tell you its the same with a lot of other people as well.
You get burned on language, color, race, nationality and religion end. Its like you tick all the check boxes on a racists checklist.
I think it's disingenuous to say "only my people REALLY suffer. You suffer... but not like we suffer".
Skin color is one part - and the listed parts (language, color, race, nationality, religion) are only the beginning. Sex, sexuality, eye color, hair color, height, weight, etc, etc, etc.
From what I understood there was more a problem with sexism than racism in tech.
Also from my understanding Hispanics have also been marginalised (thought maybe not to the same extent).
Id appreciate your thoughts.
It's not always virulent or violent, but it is always present.
Or they might also read the book the talk was based on: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0807047414
I once worked with an otherwise lovely Swedish software engineer, who was constantly spouting anti-Danish "jokes" and insults. It was disconcerting. I wasn't sure whether to stand up for the Danes, tell him a lie that my mother was Danish, or what. Is anti-Danish racism even a thing?
I agree with you in everything but that sentence. Others suffer some pretty painful misconceptions, or worse, are ignored.
"Is this person questioning my credentials because they question everyone's credentials?" "Was that crude comment made because they're just oblivious or because they're actually racist?" "Does this person treat everyone just as poorly, is it something I'm doing, or is it prejudice?"
Having to do that double mental processing can be exhausting if you're in an environment where people are insensitive or outright offensive. Some people handle it better than others but it can take its toll on anyone.
Certainly putting white or Asian would never be a detriment, but probably isn't a positive either. It's just neutral, default. I can't lie and say that I'm white or Asian, so should I just leave it blank? Then I'm hiding something. I must be black. Should I fill it out and say that I'm black, and pray to god that doesn't trigger some internal bias in the split second where someone decides to bin my application or not? Either way it's guaranteed to be a negative or a positive, not a neutral meaningless thing as it should.
That's basically my whole point. It's always going to be either a positive or a negative, not a neutral meaningless thing like it is for white guys. In your experience it's been positive, but I can't imagine that's always the case.
My point is that we can probably all find something to complain about and it irks me that white people are accused of being racist and undeserving in tech roles. I certainly don't feel like I have any sort of privilege; quite the opposite. I suspect this will be downvoted which is proof of my point.
Knowing that black people have it harder on average is not consoling to someone who got passed over because they didn't fulfill enough diversity check-boxes as another candidate.
Either white people are undeserving of tech roles...
Or white people are superior to black people.
You have to pick one or the other. I don’t see a third way to explain an employment gap.
It seems like it has more to do with one's views of the relative position of cultural values ("America is pretty good at equality of opportunity" vs. "America has some important systemic challenges around race that compromise equality") rather than level of racism on either side.
Unfortunately that difference seems to get misinterpreted both ways - with one side thinking (and saying) the others are racist because they don't support various race-targeted policies (or talk about systemic racism all the time), and the other side accusing the social-left of creating divides and problems by stoking race issues.
> one side thinking (and saying) the others are racists because they don't support various race-targeted policies (or talk about systemic racism all the time)
This completely ignores the actual racism that exists, and makes the social left out to be some group of insanely judgemental people that are so furious for reasons as small as "[people don't] talk about systemic racism all the time"
I don't know anyone who's mad about people not talking about systemic racism all the time. But I do know a lot of people who are furious about racism, and they talk about racism much more than "omg can you believe that someone doesn't support Affirmative Action" Or "wow, this person isn't thinking about systemic racism 24/7? How racist of them!"
Yes, people do discuss "race-targeted policies", and people can get judged for not agreeing with them. And although a certain degree of tribalism definitely exists (on both sides), if someone could provide me a good, clear argument against a "race-targeted policy" that also accounts for the issues that policy seeks to fix, then I'd happily agree with them (and not think they were racist). It's a shame so many discussions about those policies end up being arguments over the definition of racism (instead of, you know, how to lessen its extent and effects), and that is the problem with both sides.
You may agree with that - if you do, I'll turn it around on you and ask - if what I said was a blatant strawman, why does it seem like the majority of the social-right in America think that the social-left automatically consider them racists? That's a message I hear continuously from the American right-leaning press. Either there really is something there; or the media is misrepresenting how the right-leaning community thinks; or the right-leaning community thinks that but are flat-out wrong.
I also hear all three things when discussing systemic racism - it is really there; the media and academics are whipping up a problem where none exists; or the people in question do think there's a problem, but they're wrong and should get on with life.
You seemed to take offense at what I think was a pretty gentle characterization the tribalism seems to dominate discussion nowadays. (Well, offense at my description of one side of it, anyhow.) I think there's a parallel between your response to me and the response many socially-right people have toward systemic racism. I don't think either are helpful to discourse or solutions.
No it doesn't, but nice way to land into the left stereotype that the poster identified. Both sides can easily believe racism exists but have pretty wide gaps on how it should be addressed.
>if someone could provide me a good, clear argument against a "race-targeted policy" that also accounts for the issues that policy seeks to fix, then I'd happily agree with them (and not think they were racist).
Sure, any policies that give preference to a race that create an "equality of outcome" instead of "equality of opportunity" environment are just trying to offset racism with more racism and are inflaming divides.
Example: Stanford choosing black students over equally (or even more qualified) Asian students due to race-targeted diversity policies. This leads to Asian students doubting the black students are as qualified as them, which leaves a lot of pressure on black students to prove they are there for the right reasons.
I vividly remember the time I went to In-N-Out with a group, and took a seat at a table after ordering, but the group ended up moving to a different table. I asked the person who wanted to move the group "Why do you want us to sit over there?" She said nothing, but lifted her hand up and pointed a finger, and I looked over and there wasn't anything wrong. But there was a group of black people there. This was a time when racism was clear as day and right in front of me. But hearing many stories of racism from my friends who are black is a different feeling - instead of feeling like there's an isolated incident, I see how common it is, and how easy it is to just not see it. And that's scary. Scarier than the NSA and Facebook, because instead of losing privacy, people are actively harmed and you can easily not even see or hear about it
The poetry is about her being held down by the way she talks. The poetry isn't the thing holding her down.
When you empathize with him and understand that he comes from a different background you can begin to understand why he expresses difficulty in understanding.
I am brown, i never really hear race discussed much in my social circles in a comedic theme, not a racism theme.
There's another data point.
My poiny is that people are diverse, have different perspectives, and having an open mind facilitates dialogue
As a black guy from a military family (though I wasn't in the military myself) my folks for the most part told me they tended to deal with racism quickly and quietly by pulling someone off to the side and either explaining what was wrong to them or fighting them (I have uncles that did one or the other). I think that is kind of how you have to deal with it as well as a lot of other problems in the military because of social pressures towards cohesion. I say this to say that maybe you didn't see it as much when you served because you never did anything to warrant a stern conversation or confrontation yourself and your fellow soldiers or sailors nipped it in the bud before it became a problem within ranks. But that's just my speculating because, again, I've never been in the military, but my uncles, cousins, and great grandfather were and talked about their experiences.
White liberals are racist.
I agree. And it probably explains phenomena like this: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2018/11/30/white-liber...
You may not see it, others may not see it, but that's why people talk about unconscious bias a lot. You're just not attuned to it. The posts in this thread alone should indicate to you that there are common experiences you aren't aware of.
I agree that unconscious bias exists.
I agree that work needs to be done to smooth race relations and unconscious bias.
That said, I think it's worth considering whether constantly talking about race is doing the job of smoothing race relations, or alienating others to the cause.
"Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias)
If you look hard enough for anything, you will find it ... whether it's there or not.
I see a lot of the progressive flag waving in tech as "protesting too much." Here's an almost exclusively white male industry whose main pay check today is mass surveillance and manipulation. It's based in a city with a cost of living so high that only six-figure professionals can afford to live there in anything more than a bunk bed. Helps to cover it with a lot of faux-progressive window dressing.
I grew up in the Midwest and lived in the South for a while. I know people from many different regions and walks of life. The most ardent, ideological, committed racists I've ever encountered are all in tech. Tech circles are the only place I've had multiple people try to evangelize me with what amounts to neo-Nazi ideology. Even putting those extreme cases aside I don't really see tech as very progressive. It's certainly not progressive in deed, and that's what matters.
This is such a weird time politically. Politics is increasingly bullshit and the more irrelevant it becomes the more emotional and combative people become about it.
Are you sure that's accurate? It's well known that tech circles have a left-leaning social ideology, particularly in the bay area.
Hell a lot of it incubated right here on HN before the de-facto policy became to flag/shadowban that stuff. Go back to HN circa 2010-2011 and the site's full of it. I'm pretty convinced that if the admins hadn't banned that stuff HN would be a highbrow 4chan /pol by now, since everyone else would have bailed when it got increasingly hard-core.
I've encountered casual racist attitudes elsewhere, but tech circles are the only places I've found significant numbers of true believers in the Bell Curve and people who think a single number (IQ) quantifies the worth of a human being. It's also, like I said, the only place I've had people try to evangelize me to hard-core fascist ideology.
There's a world of difference between having casual negative attitudes toward other races because your family held them when you grew up and having an explicit ideological belief system that advocates racism, totalitarianism, and hyper-elitism. It's the difference between an un-examined bias and an examined, affirmed bias. I've found the former in places like Ohio and North Carolina. I've found the latter primarily in tech.
It does surprise me to find these views in tech. It surprises me because tech is all about changing the way things are, so I wouldn't expect to find total commitment and capitulation to the naturalistic fallacy. But here it is.
OTOH, I have been with a couple companies and seen racism and sexism in the form of jokes and comments that were done in poor taste, but it was just a group of white/asian progressive males so no harm? Again, all anecdotal. I'm sure other people have had complete opposite experiences, and thats to be expected. Racism is not always about hate or politics, it can show its self through ignorance and unfamiliarity.
I've been a lurker for almost the entirety of HN. I created an account just to post this because I believe politics, especially political stereotyping has no business on HN. I would hate to see this forum burned out like Reddit.
Someone has lied to you about the differences between liberals and conservatives. A non-negligible portion of the left think more discrimination is the answer to discrimination.
No community is THIS defensive about something that's a non-issue.
Yes, surely protesting their innocence is strong evidence that they are, in fact, guilty as charged. /s
It's not like, once in every blue moon, someone says 'tech has a race problem'- people say things like that all the time. So, even if it was a non-issue, the fact lots of people are saying it's an issue makes it an issue for people in tech, for obvious reasons (nobody likes being called evil.)
Maybe people are defensive because they do see racism and ignore it- but maybe people are defensive because lots of people say there's racism they're ignoring, and what those people say can affect their jobs. Whether there's a race problem or not, there's a race problem.
When did you stop beating your wife?
This is the 'happy path' to ideological totalitarianism, and it's a scary statement.
In the UC system, it is now considered a 'micro aggression' to make the statement 'America is a Meritocracy'. Why? Because it doesn't necessarily reflect the fact that for some people it's harder than others. Surely - there's a lot to be debated about the statement. But that it cannot be said, or is even considered problematic is utterly Orwellian.
The author makes the case of 'undue or overly harsh' criticism of Black employees? Unfortunately, this is a difficult thing to measure, and if FB turns into a 'government office' - it simply won't be possible to give even a fair assessment without the fear or being labelled a racist.
I'm actually quite sensitive to aphxtron's comment above about the insecurities of being black in tech, and there is work to do ... but I think the intersectional / authoritarian approach, especially those whereby we 'assume racism' is wrong.
I don't think the Colin Kaepernick approach is going to work on this, I think it's just going to take a while.
A recent comment by the author, Michael Dunlop Young:
"It is good sense to appoint individual people to jobs on their merit. It is the opposite when those who are judged to have merit of a particular kind harden into a new social class without room in it for others."
Trying to ban the word meritocracy like they did at GitHub is just the result of certain sorts of people (who loudly claim to be totally not racist or sexist at all) secretly believing that formalised hiring and promotion processes, which is what they usually mean by the word meritocracy, will exclude their chosen favourite minorities.
'Meritocracy' possibly creates another class based system, just defined in the terms of whoever is responsible for defining what 'merit' is.
I believe that in general 'meritocracy' is a good thing, I don't think we should be fundamentally cynical about it ... but the OP's comment is definitely relevant.
I particularly appreciate last quote it's utterly relevant in the Valley.
However, I do welcome the type of meritocracy where people like Aneurin Bevan can go on to influence our lives in such a positive way:
[He started work down a mine at 13 and went on to found the NHS].
Also, on the military side it used to be possible for someone to rise from private soldier to Chief of the Imperial General Staff - something, even with a far smaller military, would be impossible today - a point made by the military historian Richard Holmes.
The military is a completely alternative universe, and by the way many commissioned soldiers do make the jump to the officer class.
Alternate character interpretation: the phrase "meritocracy" has turned into a dogwhistle for white supremacists and as such its use effectively reifies a white-supremacist position whether you mean to do so or not. As another example: I do not think that the overwheming majority of folks who use the term "gypped" have a problem with Romani, nut there is history and context to that too and you can't ignore it. Or, if you'd like a more amplified example, consider what the phrase "blood and soil" actually refers to.
It's not "Orwellian" to say "hey, that shit hurts people, be conscious of how your actions affect other people." It's polite.
But pragmatically, it is Orwellian to suggest the phrase 'America is a Meritocracy' is tantamount to 'White Supremacism' or even that it is remotely an 'impolite' term.
", be conscious of how your actions affect other people."
No, it's not our job to not ever say anything that might possibly offend someone somewhere, because someone will always be offended.
This is not about 'being polite'.
It is 'polite' to not use foul language, to make assumptions about people, or to not say things that would offend most people, or are definitely going to offend a small groups.
It is not reasonable to control language to a point wherein speech is restricted because of the mere possibility that someone, somewhere, might be mildly offended.
I think you've made my case for me, because if it is 'not polite' to say 'America is a meritocracy' - then most speech is literally not polite and subject to the arbitrary whims of authoritarian overlords.
Just yesterday the CBC, Rogers and Bell (Canadian Gov. Broadcaster and equivalent of AT&T and Verizon) just banned the #1 most popular Christmas song 'Baby it's cold outside' - because of the innuendo about a man pressing a woman to stay with him. Contrast that with the fact that there are zillions of songs with overt, vicious, bigoted, violent and sexist terminology played all day long and you can see immediately the arbitrary and ideological nature to which these things apply.
A small, totalitarian group of 'thought nannies' decided that a very popular, and frankly innocuous song, might possibly suggest or offend someone, somewhere - and so it was banned.
Yes - let's be polite ... but utterly arbitrary and normative speech that might be contentious in intellectual circles ... does not constitute racism, insensitivity, or 'impolite' speech.
I think it is Orwellian to declare certain words or phrases "dog whistles" and suppress their usage based on that.
If you don't want to be thought of as a white supremacist, it's remarkably easy not to parrot their phrases. And nobody's even saying you can't do it if you want to die on that hill. But actions have consequences, don't they?
/pol/ in particular gets a lot of fun from getting progressives to jump at shadows ("It's ok to be white", and that unsuccessful campaign to turn a lone black dot into a symbol of white supremacy). The "O.K. symbol as white supremacist" also came from them I think, and the intent was to get progressives to seem crazy for flipping out at something so innocuous.
And maybe because when people use a word we don't automatically assume the worst intent unless there is evidence to support it?
That's really easy.
The statement 'America is a meritocracy' is not remotely a phrase or statement supporting White Supremacy.
The fact any reasonable person would try to put such an innocuous statement in the camp of 'White Supremacy' makes me afraid.
It could be if you insist that it's a meritocracy in the face of all the evidence that it is overwhelmingly biased towards white people.
(It could equally just be an ignorant statement from a blistering ignorant fool who hasn't done any thinking, mind.)
There has never been a successful human rights movement that was polite and didn't offend.
The truth can be very painful to accept, which is why we often subconsciously avoid it and shun such discussions
Did you mean "do" rather than "don't"? If not, I'm not sure how to interpret that statement.
That pretty much sums up the state of the dialog in the industry and it's pretty sad that you can't even find thoughtful comments on Hacker News. Regardless of your politics, everyone deserves a fair shake. I'm a black engineer and manager with experience at several tech companies, including Facebook. At every company I've worked for I've heard jokes about African-Americans (overheard, to my face, from managers and ICs alike) and dealt with people assuming I'm a junior engineer at the beginning of every encounter despite the gray hairs lining my chin. At the conclusion of my tech talks and even technical interviews people routinely ask me if I have an engineering background! These things may seem insignificant ("they're just jokes") but we're social creatures want to feel recognized and accepted. That hasn't stopped me from building a career I'm proud of and I don't lose sleep at night. But I'm an outlier in that regard.
The larger subtext of the entire diversity conversation is learning to coexist. It's not about black people, women, the LGBTQ community, or any other single group. It's about a better working environment for everyone indefinitely. Being against that is literally pathological.
Based on the quality of discourse on this site lately, I'm sure many of you will take my words out of context and make broad assumptions about my beliefs. For the sane ones, please reflect on the words I actually wrote.
My younger brother is going into the tech industry but has a much darker complexion than me. I'm not sure what to tell him to be honest.
My older brother is an engineer. He is by all appearances black. His approach was similar to mine but to a greater extreme, he disassociated himself from anything resembling black stereotypes in America down to the very music he listens to, the way he dresses, everything. Unfortunately he takes it a step too far and is quite often jokingly(or not, I can't tell) racist himself. He's finding success in his career but I don't know how much of that is due to the way he presents himself or due to his merit.
I have friends that do the same thing, they have a work face and a home face. I try not to think about it. It's very distracting.
To the extent possible, I've always tried to shape my identity based on what feels right for me instead of what's expected of me, even from my own race. With practice, divorcing yourself from other peoples' opinions of you becomes second nature. When you don't adopt that mindset you're allowing other people to write your story, which some people are fine with but I personally find that intolerable. I can definitely relate to feeling like you have to disown part of your identity but I just can't accept that. It happens in many subtle ways we don't think about. For example, when we sense someone else's self doubt if evokes feeling of self doubt, anger, or sadness in ourselves. In reality, other peoples' flawed opinions don't pay my rent so I try to live in reality and disregard ignorance unless it affects the outcomes I care about.
I chose tech (over politics!) because it seemed like more of a meritocracy and, although I've dealt with some race-related challenges, focusing on doing my best work, creating value, and writing my own story has led to pretty good results.
I do still get distracted wondering whether my story would be different if I weren't black - it's tough.
How did I make this discovery?
At a funeral, meeting some of my dad's friends. One couple said 'you must know Marcus' and then proceeded to describe him by colour. That didn't help. But when they said that he did the posters for the school debating society I remembered who this Marcus character was, and quite clearly. It was his eloquence in the aforementioned debating society that I did remember, not his black skin.
There were other parents-of-contemporaries there who had kids that could not have been white. So I then clocked details I did remember - Asian style eyelids without the crease, darker skin tone etc. Seems as if there was more diversity at the school I went to than I can remember. I had assumed everyone was white, but this was definitely not the case.
We did actually have kids being teased for having ginger hair, I can't remember being the one using the shameful gingerist words but I must have been chuckling away though.
I can remember racist words and how there was no association between the words and the persons who were supposed to be derided by such words. I distinctly remember using a derogatory term for people from the Indian sub-continent and my parents correcting me about that. Beatings were allowed in the 1980's... The context of that was a retail establishment where us kids had a name for it that turned out to be quite racist. We didn't know that, we just thought it was the name of the place. The more backward folks in the older generation had 'taught' us this particular word, we didn't know the connotations.
So, think again, are you sure you didn't go to school with any black kids? You could have been genuinely oblivious.
I also wonder why I was so deluded and what the balance has to be between different shades of skin colour for 'them and us' racism to happen. Had our school been 50% black I am sure I would not have had my naive 'everyone was white' memories, but a small percentage of black folks in a white school would have been memorable too.
Haha, not only I didn't go to school with black kids, but I hadn't seen a single black person on a street until early 2000s in my post-soviet country.
Given how even recent white European immigrants to the UK are treated by the general population (see: Brexit), I would expect afro-Caribbean individuals to not be treated much better, and have, anecdotally, heard as much.
I don't think it makes much sense to categorise people by skin colour. An Afro-Caribbean doesn't in general have more in common with an immigrant from Africa than with an immigrant from Syria or Hong Kong.
People with a different skin colour certainly do get discriminated against. However, if you really want to get discriminated against, try dressing in the wrong way and speaking a foreign language or with a foreign accent. In general, people get judged by their clothing and the way they speak far more than by any physical feature.
Perhaps it doesn't make sense to generalise across the UK, either. Afro-Caribbeans are much more common in the London area than elsewhere. Only in Bradford has someone made me feel like a foreigner by speaking to me slowly in Hindi/Urdu and rolling their eyes when I fail to understand. (Quite cool, I thought: I approve.)
The American condition doesnt have a way to relate to that
As far as the dialog, it is known that Facebook pays PR firms to improve their image by spreading misleading stories (see Definers Public Affairs), so I think there is reason to believe that some comments here may be disingenuous.
There is a need for diversity training but the way I’ve seen it done is off putting to the people who need it most. All it ends up being is a virtue signaling fest for so called allies of minority groups and the real harm persists - people making false, often times demeaning, assumptions about others that adversely affect them.
I work in academia and have never been outside of academia. My belief about diversity training comes solely from my experiences within academia. Do companies spend time on diversity training? Is it a yearly training like it is in parts of academia? Do you find the way it is done off putting? Helpful?
- From a black male entering the tech industry
You claim the site doesn't have thoughtful comments and then you build up a strawman of diversity efforts and then claim being against it is 'literally pathological'. This is the problem.
People with grievances about how diversity programs are ineffective or are causing harm are labeled as 'pathological', etc by people on the left because they think the criticisms are against diversity in the first place. You are making enemies out of people who believe in equal opportunity because they point out flaws and injustices in diversity programs.
I recommend that you reflect on your positions if you want to build bridges. Assuming that everyone who points out flaws in an approach are against the much larger goal is a good way to needlessly divide everyone.
I think an even more subtle problem is people who attack ineffective policies as opposed to focusing on the primary objective, which is coexistence. In other words, people focus on attacking solutions as opposed to helping create better ones. That behavior is pervasive, insidious, counterproductive, and seems to be picking up steam.
Please, reflect on your position for a moment there. You're saying that anyone who is happy with their workplace and thinks things are OK is engaged in "literally pathological anti-social behaviour". That's the kind of overblown, extremist rhetoric that makes diversity initiatives a toxic topic in the modern workplace - it's a demonisation of anyone who thinks that maybe their firm has bigger things to worry about than a never-ending, apparently unsatisfiable quest for "equity".
In other words, people focus on attacking solutions as opposed to helping create better ones. That behavior is pervasive, insidious, counterproductive, and seems to be picking up steam.
It's actually your behaviour that's counterproductive here. There is never any obligation to propose something better when criticising a proposal.
It might be helpful to the proposer, and if someone can think of a better approach then you'd hope they would propose it. But if something is a bad idea, or represents a bad tradeoff (there are no solutions in life, only tradeoffs), then it's a bad idea and shouldn't happen. This is independent of anything else. Indeed, making the status quo worse is absolutely possible with any change, and something people are right to point out if a proposal might lead to it.
That doesn't make them insidious, or counterproductive.
Because many of those policies are actively harmful and are worse than the status quo. You don't need to have a better solution to point out that implementing quotas results in more racism than having no quotas at all.
When it comes to approaches to diversity, many are significantly worse than nothing at all because they embolden divides by highlighting that fact that some people are different and are incapable without special provisions.
>That behavior is pervasive, insidious, counterproductive, and seems to be picking up steam.
They are only counterproductive if you are already convinced reverse discrimination is the answer to discrimination.
I think that's something everybody can agree with. However, I sometimes think that HR, Code of Conduct policies, etc do more harm than good in ensuring that happens.
In the ideal world, we all work together to find something that works. In reality, we're prone to change resistance so when we disagree with a new policy (regardless of whether it really has implications for our own lives) we tend to reject the policy, the premise, the authorities, and any groups that support said policy. There's lots of evidence that suggests that's an inherent dynamic of social systems. When policies have implications for social groups things turn explosive quickly, but beyond that I think the reaction we see to diversity conversations is just run of the mill change resistance. I often find it helpful to highlight the inarguable, universal truths in those situations as a starting point for finding a better way forward but...it's never easy.
Why do you think that?
About this.... There's something I've noticed is that when one group has rights by default, and another doesnt, fighting for equality or equity feels like to the innate group that rights are taken away.
Its the perception of zero-sum game versus a positive-sum game. For the in-group, having others brought up to your status feels like its reducing yours... But it doesn't.
Whereas rights can be assessed for everyone. The more rights we all have is a positive sum. A rising tide raises all boats.
What is interesting to me is that before reading this part I assumed you are a man even though there was no hint before this line that you are. How many people thought kwamenum86 is a man from start of his writing?
So just on the off-chance, does anyone know if the post has been reposted anywhere else?
I am shocked. I live and work in the south and have never seen anything even remotely like this. It's almost hard to believe this occrus and HR simply does nothing. Of the few non racial issues that HR needed to intervene in it has always been swift removal of the offender and a company wide email.
Maybe the south is not so racist ?
Side not- bring a minority can't be a complaint. If you are a minority it is just a fact. Being a minority and expecting to walk into a conference room and find many faces like yours is just not an expectation anybody should have. Even if we had a perfect representation of blacks it still is going to feel like a sea of white in any white majority country.
I find this industry selects for and exacerbates social anxiety issues amongst almost any demographic.
“Is this one of those circumstances where a cabal of men misunderstand my ability to contribute to their company?”
Most experience comments I’ve read in this thread are social anxiety related. And then people debate on the quality of that particular social anxiety issue than the similarities of there being social anxiety at all.
My experience has been mostly positive and inclusive. But this isnt intended to be another anecdotal data point, this is intended to highlight widespread social anxiety.
Jews comprise about 2.5% of the US population, but about 25% of billionaires are Jewish. That means that Jews are about 10 times more likely than non-Jewish whites to belong to this elite. Nazis consider this evidence that there is a Jewish conspiracy to oppress whites.
What is the difference?
(Btw, I'm not American, and in my country, there are fairly few of both blacks and Jews, so I see this from the outside.)
It's not a surprise that being black at Facebook is a tough experience, as all of us who are black in tech know. Being 2-3% of the population would be tough for anyone to deal. Add on to that the very real notion of "micro-aggressions". My girlfriend was delivering a presentation and a manager literally admitted to day dreaming about which way she braided her hair that day, it totally threw her off base. At the end of the day a majority of us who are black in tech are dealing with death by paper cut as we try and traverse through our careers. Employee groups have been a big help to me, all I can recommend is to try to integrate yourself with other black employees at your organization -- there is strength in numbers.