The older I get the more I exhausted I am of pointing to this problem, but the one sign that the people who do this sort of thing are overwhelmingly dense, is the fact that they keep doing it: tech company managers who create these “suggested user lists” that wind up being overwhelmingly white.
The latest company to do this? Google, with its roll-out of its own list of “interesting and famous people,” for you to follow on Google +, Goggle’s answer to Facebook.
I just figured out what I like about Facebook’s social media approach that I hate about Google’s: with Facebook, I don’t feel like someone’s using their technology to put up a white-face view of what is it to be interesting or relevant.
The Google Suggested User List reads like the typical San Francisco Bay Area tech firm’s view of the World: most of the “interesting and famous people” are white, and if they’re black, they’re male rappers or athletes. Hello, Snoop Dog, Chamillionaire, 50 Cent, Dwight Howard, and Floyd Mayweather!
I guess black women just don’t exist. Or maybe Google has issues with the presentation of black women on the list? It’s certainly not because there are no notable black women using Google+ – the problem is Google doesn’t think they’re notable.
Something’s wrong, and it’s not with them, it’s with Google.
I don’t care that some idiot will sure-as-sunrise chime in something about “why do you complain” or “You blacks are always complaining.” Look, the first person to do that should be immediately subjected to a full frontal lobotomy, and then send Google the bill when it’s done.
Making statements that protect, defend, and cement this problem do no one any good. I would think Google doesn’t want to be thought of as racist, but this effort of posting a mirror of a stereotyped society for thousands if not millions to see, runs the risk of effectively branding the company as just that.
And as Google forms this racist club, studies indicate that the most common contributors to social networks are not just white, but are people of color too – 17 percent black in one survey.
What Google should have done is what any other tech company that seeks to add a “suggested user list” to its process should do: use a measuring system like Klout.com as its guide. If Google followed my advice, it would have a more dynamic group that reflects who’s actually active in the social network space of which Google’s a part of now.
Then we would have a truly meritocratic process. Hard social media work is justly rewarded.
But Google didn’t do that.
What bothers me, as well, is that none of the critics of the Google Suggested User List mentioned this race problem. That’s disturbing to know there are so many culturally blind people.
I don’t personally know Bradley Horowitz, the Google honcho who tweeted this mistake for the World to see, and is explaining his rationale for it. I did try to call him regarding some questions I had regarding the Blogger platform early last year, when I managed to track down his cell phone number because I wasn’t getting anywhere with the Blogger support staff at the time. I called once, got him. Brad said he would call me back, and never did so. I didn’t call him again; I just never forgot the episode.
When your face pops up in as many different areas as mine does, it’s fairly safe to say Brad knows damn well who I am. A lot of people at Google do. I’m the black guy folks come to hate: the one who directly tells you when your behavior’s just a left turn from the KKK. The one who’s always reminding you the culture can do better, and signalling when it performs well.
The message will come in that I’m calling people I don’t know names, like “racist.” No. Let me be clear for all: I’m giving a name to their actions, not them.
To the extent my blast angers anyone, well, don’t do it again. Ok.
Knock it off. Will ya? Can you please, stop?
At this stage of my life, I don’t mind kicking some ass here because it’s just plain too much, this constant drumbeat of racial exclusion. At this point, I don’t care if I’m one against many – I’ll figure out a way to win.
What Google did was just stupid. Sending out a message that these “suggested user lists” have a pattern that’s exclusionary of people of color, and mostly blacks, tends to do damage to how blacks see themselves, particularly the young, who aren’t (yet) arrogant enough to tell someone where to stick their list.
They will grow with the idea that someone white is more interesting than they are – unless, of course, they take the “black tech track” and fire off rhymes to a beat.
Nothing against my rap friends, but that’s not for me. I sing Sinatra.