Black Girls Code

A virtuous Hillary-supporting friend on Facebook posted a link about helping out at a Black Girls Code event. This generated a huge number of “likes” of course. I’m wondering why this works out as virtuous, though. I’m a volunteer tutor for children in our small suburb (currently working on 8th grade math and so far I’ve learned that nobody of average intelligence could possibly stay awake and motivated through public school 8th grade math). If I posted on the town email list “I am happy to tutor, but only if the child is of Race X and Gender Identification Y” (and if they change gender ID halfway through the school year, or through a tutoring session, what then?), I have a feeling that this would not put me into the virtue category. If it doesn’t work in the 1:1 context, why does it work to create an organization that sorts out and excludes children by race/gender?

11 thoughts on “Black Girls Code

  1. I don’t understand. They just recently introduced “affinity groups” at my workplace and it seems to be the opposite of the “embrace diversity” ideal we are supposed to be getting better at as a country and this is along those same lines.

  2. If you posted “I’m offering free tutoring to people from underrepresented groups in STEM” to the list, then everyone would be fine with it and consider it virtuous, even though practically this would mean that you’re performing racial and gender exclusion. So I reject the idea that “sorting kids into groups” in this way is objectionable, and I think your suburb probably does too.

    If it doesn’t work in the 1:1 context, why does it work to create an organization that sorts out and excludes children by race/gender?

    I imagine the goal of the organization is in part to provide public visibility, role models, and outreach for black girls considering STEM careers. That’s a useful thing to do, and it’s not something it’s *possible* or efficient for you to do in a 1:1 context, which is part of why what they’re doing seems more virtuous than your 1:1 example.

  3. Does STEM and society need more people, or need more underrepresented people? And on another note, what sort of jerks call it STEM anymore! It’s STEAM because middle school art classes need funding and focus as much as science technology engineering and mathematics.

  4. >why does it work to create an organization that sorts out and
    >excludes children by race/gender?

    The organization isn’t doing the sorting, the sorting has already been done by (among other factors) centuries of racism. There is a difference between selective outreach and selective exclusion

    Imagine a world with two separate neighborhoods (A and B) segregated by ethnicity. There is one tutor who lives in neighborhood A who will tutor any child who comes to their house. That tutor may say they will tutor children of either ethnicity, but that alone does provide children of either ethnicity with equal opportunity to obtain tutoring services. To do that the tutor would need to go to neighborhood B. Let’s say our tutor does that and finds that due to different economic and social circumstances, the children in neighborhood B actually need different kinds tutoring services than the children in neighborhood A. Now the tutor develops new tutoring methods focussed on the specific needs of the children in neighborhood B. Based on about 10 seconds looking at their website, that seems to be what this organization is trying to do.

    Note: I’m not saying that exclusion is never dressed up as outreach or what starts out as outreach never becomes exclusion.

  5. No it’s fine for the same reason why you are allowed to have the “United Negro College Fund” but not the “United White People’s College Fund”. Preferences and set asides for “oppressed minorities” are OK under the official ideology.

  6. The joke is that liberals really are more racist than so-called conservatives. They fundamentally grasp the racial differences and the implications. But because they tend to be smarter than conservatives they have the mental dexterity to dance around the obvious double standards they apply. We are all equal, but some are less equal than others and need extra special tutoring.

  7. Neal – How do you tell the difference between outreach and exclusion? Why not just use economic criteria and leave race out of it? Do different ethnicities need different teaching techniques?

  8. I’m confused – I clicked on the Black Girls Code link and the first photo was of a girl wearing a pair of oversized safety glasses (with a nose cutout designed for a narrow Caucasian beak – they need to design racially appropriate eyewear, but I digress). I know that those Samsung phones have been exploding lately, but is it now necessary to wear safety glasses when coding in front of a computer screen? Is this some kind of OSHA regulation?

  9. @Sam

    >How do you tell the difference between outreach and exclusion?

    That is a great question. I don’t have an answer or the time/interest to develop one. I suppose one would start by providing clear and unambiguous examples of both to verify they are in fact different and then compare them to try and identify the definitive differences. I have already provided an example of outreach. In above example, a strictly color-blind policy would perpetuate a pre-existing inequality; unequal inputs are required to provide equal opportunity. I will leave an example of exclusion as an exercise for the reader.

    >Why not just use economic criteria and leave race out of it?

    Everything isn’t about socio-economic status. Active racial discrimination is still a factor in American society as Uber and Airbnb have discovered. In Ferguson, the DOJ discovered a predominately white civil service supporting itself by trapping poor blacks (not poor people in general, poor blacks) in the criminal justice system.

    >Do different ethnicities need different teaching techniques?

    People with different cultural backgrounds/experiences/resource inventories may require different teaching techniques. While Americans share a lot of commonality, some aspects of cultural background/experience/resource inventory are highly correlated with race, and some of those differences are due to past and present racism.

  10. How do you tell the difference between outreach and exclusion?

    It’s obvious in this case, right? There’s a massively overrepresented group and a massively underrepresented group in programming. If someone’s trying to get more people from the underrepresented group to join, they’re performing outreach.

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