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    Joel Brown

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There are 4 comments on Opening Doors: David Delmar Sentíes (CFA’06)

  1. This article should be required reading for every single person at BU, and especially for the university’s board of directors/trustees, leadership, and faculty (aka, those in positions of power and decision making who can actually hard code real change). Sentíes is one of the rare few one would call REAL.

  2. I love this idea of bootcamp for low-income kids. I would love to volunteer myself for something like this (having lots of years of experience coding for various corporations and nonprofits). I love the idea of leapfrogging college and providing opportunities for people of all backgrounds to get into tech. theses are all great things and should be encouraged.

    What is troubling though is the incessant language surrounding race and making it all about race providing really flimsy and substance-free evidence of race being being a significant barrier. As an example from this article, to the question: “Do you still see racism from employers?”, we get: “All the time—oh my god, all the time… One recruiter at a company told us they prefer candidates who have paid for their education, because that means they must want it more. Of course we’ve been told a bunch of times that so-and-so is not “a culture fit.” Really? That’s your best evidence that skin color is used in hiring decisions? Okay…

    My experience in the world of tech (30 years) is that if you are good at coding, if you are good at finding solutions to software problems, if you get along with people of all different backgrounds, truly nobody cares what your shade of color is, what your ethnic background is, where you were born or how rich your daddy is. Not in the 21st century … Not for the last 30 years that I’ve been in this field. Some of the places I worked at had half the coding workforce being people of ALL shades and colors from all over the world – India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Iran to name a few places.

    What this shows is that a tech companies most important priority by far is not people’s racial or ethnic background but the ability to get the job done and get along with people so that THE COMPANY CAN MAKE MONEY. That’s it. If we’re talking startup companies, their most important priority is just to survive (most startups fail within a few years). Whatever talent helps them survive and make money will be who they are interested in hiring AND keeping. If you happen to have blue skin and possess only one arm NO ONE will care if you can satisfy the above-mentioned criteria. Again I am speaking from experience working for 10 different companies over many years.

    Obsessing over race distracts from finding solutions to the very real problem of the majority of kids of color as well as a significant percentage of white kids in this country having little access to a quality K12 education so that they lack basic real-world skills by the time they get out of high school.

    Why not ditch ideology and laser focus on this one HUGE problem? There is something seriously wrong in this area, and needs to be fixed urgently with whatever solutions work. If something has not been working for decades and public education has only gotten worse and worse perhaps it’s time to rethink public education. Not to dumb it down so that everyone passes regardless of how much they actually learned as is the trend today, but to make sure that everyone who graduates is proficient in basic skills. Based on the results of the last 40 years, the way we’ve been doing public education in this country just has NOT been working. Alarm bells need to go off at this state of affairs! Instead we get politics!

    Without getting too much into the weeds, it certainly feels like bad government policies keep kids tied to bad schools, as one example. Many parents with little access to quality schools are begging that policy to change. Why not give school choice especially in areas where public schools are receiving large sums of money per pupil but are still producing bad results. Or more generally, why not just look around the country with an open mind to see where successful schools have been implemented and are ACTUALLY working based on the actual results! Study why they work and try to replicate more of those models (regardless of ideology) around the country?

    Solving K12 educations would do more than any other single fix to provide access and opportunities for kids in tech and all other field.

    1. I appreciate your thoughtful note. I would say that just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. At the height of the #MeToo movement, for example, I was absolutely blown away to learn just how much toxicity women that I knew well were experiencing. I had no idea. I accepted that my perspective as a male was blind to their experiences.

      I will also note that you’re arriving here at the difference between interpersonal and structural racism. Structural racism is when the system is racist without any one person behaving in a way that is explicitly racist. For example, the fact that K12 schools in which 90%+ of students are non-white are the ones struggling the most with standardized testing results and college matriculation is not necessarily because there are specific people choosing to behave in a way that is explicitly and personally racist. It’s the result of systems that cannot be disentangled from our country’s racist history. This includes racist mortgage lending practices, disenfranchisement from decisions around how schools are run, and much more.

      Poverty has a structurally racist dynamic. The median impoverished White household holds $13k more in assets than the median impoverished Black household. Education has a structurally racist dynamic. On average, Black men with a BA earn less money than White men without one.

      Your description of a tech community in which no one cares about your background as long as you can code is different from what our alumni have been experiencing.

      That said, I share your restlessness. Resilient Coders is small potatoes — I’ll be the first to say so. We’re a band aid that, quite frankly, shouldn’t need to exist. We need comprehensive and national reform.

    2. Sam, I appreciate your perspective however, consider that your scope may be limited. I am a recent graduate from Resilient Coders and am currently employed at a FAANG level company. For this specific company, ALL I had to do was prove I could code and get along with people of different backgrounds. However, your assertion that this is the standard in tech is disingenuous. Your experience does not represent tech as a whole even with your decades of experience. My experience in a matter of MONTHS into my tech career is drastically different from the community you’re describing.

      I interviewed with a startup where the Director of Engineering felt the need to explain that there were no “diverse” members on their team. The first round technical interview for this company had ZERO coding questions. They were all CS theory questions, that in no way measured my ability to code (Luckily, Resilient Coders has a robust program that includes theory). Sure, you can say this isn’t about my race specifically, but that doesn’t negate that these gatekeeping measures largely affect people of certain demographics.

      Additionally, let’s consider that the barriers for a career in tech are entirely class/education based. The demographics that are most likely to be left out of education based access as you described above, would still be majority people of color. Couple that with cultural differences, (consider a white middle class tech lead trying to connect with a black candidate from a lower income background during an interview). What does that small talk look like? Two candidates that performed equally in the technical interview may not be considered “equal” when it comes to who is a better “fit” for the team. Del speaks to these issues as a race issue because class, education, race, and culture all go hand in hand.

      You posed issues within the K-12 education system and you are absolutely correct in that it needs reform. “Why not ditch ideology and laser focus on this one HUGE problem?” Well, that’s because it isn’t the only problem that needs to be resolved. Additionally, There are many programs and political initiatives working towards education reform, that will undoubtedly help the children today have more hopeful futures. But what of the millions of disenfranchised folks now? The tech industry needs to change from within and Resilient Coders is successfully doing that.

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