Ex-Google employee’s manifesto: Anti-diversity and HubCity Live!, “The Antidote”
LOS ANGELES – James Damore, a former senior software engineer at Google has penned a ‘manifesto’ against Google’s diversity initiatives titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”. In it, Damore contends that the racial and gender gaps at Google stem from biological differences, and that the tech giant shouldn’t initiate programs that assist underrepresented groups. The Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, abruptly ended his vacation to condemn the document which is being widely decried as anti-diversity. The memo comes at a time when Silicon Valley firms are intensifying efforts to address such underrepresentation through multimillion-dollar initiatives, diversity consultants, and the appointment of prominent women of color to their Boards. Despite such steps, the gaps endure, and apparently, resistance to diversity is mounting.
This incident and its harkening to Eugenics-based theories that promote racism, is a stark reminder to proponents of diversity and inclusion that this cause is a long haul, and the best solutions will be derived from diverse individuals who initiate relevant and dynamic solutions.
In 2014, former NBA great-turned-businessman Earvin “Magic” Johnson boldly told USA TODAY he had the solution to the severe shortage of blacks and Hispanics in Silicon Valley. Johnson stated, “I’ve been doing this for over 35 years. Just give me a call”.
Celebrities like Dr. Dre, Nas, Jay Z, and Will Smith, P-Diddy, 50 Cent, Kobe Bryant, Will.i.am, Shaquille O’Neal, Bruno Mars and others have founded or invested in over 500 tech startups. However, they haven’t purchased land to develop a master-planned city aimed at attracting, hosting and sustaining their ecosystem of startups and venture-capital funds. Though a laudable step in the right direction, these efforts have not scaled, and as such, have had minimal impact.
There Is No “Magic Bullet” Or “Quick Fix” Solution
Studies and recent scandals, such as the Uber sexual harassment case, have shown Silicon Valley’s inability to make meaningful strides in addressing sexism and racism within their ranks. The ex-Google engineer’s manifesto vividly demonstrates that the problem is much larger and more multifaceted than simple explanations like the digital divide, access or adoption of technology. What we’re facing is cultural and systemic. Consequently, the solutions are greater than Magic’s invitation for Silicon Valley tech companies to engage him as a liaison to the inner city. The solutions are more substantial than celebrities hit and miss investments in startups. An advanced understanding of the problems and opportunities is needed in order to determine the appropriate solution.
What is needed is a team of strategists, urban planners, architects, high-tech real estate developers, technologists, engineers, and financiers to outline a detailed vision, model and roadmap aimed at building an innovation city and making a higher return on investment (ROI). Although efforts to address diversity are well intentioned, piecemeal steps cannot change the system, policies and culture of Silicon Valley.
BlockpleX, a revolutionary startup that’s in the business of building instant cities based on Ubiquitous Computing and social diversity assembled such a team of specialists to examine the problems and opportunities from a range of viewpoints and generate ideas about how culture and technology could be produced to aid inner-cities. The BlockpleX – BlockTEK flowchart below illustrates the scale and sophistication of the model and the connection between the intelligent eco-system, culture, municipality and infrastructure of the ubiquitous city.
To build the BlockTEK model from the ground up and embed its elements into a real environment, we must attain real and tangible assets that we can see, touch, and experience, such as land. Not only is land a symbol of strength, stability and independence, strategic use of land has the ability to affect the socio-economic conditions of families, and also, to attract businesses and sustain inner cities. It is vital to build a welcoming place where marginalized youth can proudly gather and discuss technology, art and social change as they invent creations that will revolutionize their own future. Protecting and nurturing their self-image, self-confidence, self-esteem and interdependence must be a number one priority.
Enter HubCity Live!: The Anti-Diversity Antidote
There is a coalition of prominent women led by Rickie Byars Beckwith that is utilizing the BlockpleX – BlockTEK model to build a futuristic innovation hub in Compton. This technological wonderland is aimed at attracting, hosting and sustaining a nation of young, gifted and soulful techies, artists, futurists and world builders – male and female alike! Rickie recognized that young people of color, who are interested in tech and culture, had no place to go. She believed, “If you build such a place, they will come.”
Rickie stated, “The youth are there in Compton or are ready to travel from wherever they are to their new creative and technological homeland. They are ready to create art or build technology in a safe space and become a beautiful and creative family.” Rickie’s visionary process began by organizing a team of like-minded, multi-racial specialists to draft a comprehensive master plan for a 3-acre innovation hub in Compton. The end result was HubCity Live!
HubCity Live! is a $147 million dollar, high-tech real estate development project consisting of three edifices: Kuumba – Center of Culture with performance and exhibit spaces, Soko – Plaza/Mall with locally-produced and luxury retail, and Nemes X – Innovation/Business Center replete with living labs and hacker/maker spaces. Architecturally, HubCity Live! blurs the line between the mothership and Mother Africa. HubCity Live! is a road map designed to transform Compton into a proving ground for next generation technology, culture and nation building. The project’s emphasis is on economic development and gender and racial diversity. Laila Ali, Rosario Dawson, Iyanla Vanzant, Siedah Garrett and others are supporting the realization of this vision as HubCity Live! advisory board members.
Techno-Urbanism and Afrofuturism are ‘The Rave’!
Although HubCity Live! won’t trend globally on Twitter or produce 10 million Facebook likes, in an alternative, Afro-futuristic sort of way, it will be all the rave amongst young revolutionary artists, computer scientists, architects, engineers, futurists, and world builders. It’s neo-futuristic ideas seamlessly resonate with culture jammers, disrupters, geeks, hackers, makers, futurists, digital artists, intra-protestors and comrades who are ‘woke’, visionary and ready to do real work.
These new breeds vibe to the music of Flying Lotus, Shabazz Palaces, Janelle Monae, Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, Solange, FKA Twigs, Shabazz Palaces, Georgia Muldrow and Ras G. They get lit when developing floor plans, elevations and 3D architectural renderings. They get ‘turnt’ when building applications and networks for ubiquitous computing, virtual reality, augmented reality, ambient intelligence and the Internet of Things (IOT). Patronizing art exhibits of visual and digital artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jim “Tripp” Sanders, Joshua Mays, Mshindo Kuumba, Ten, Tyra White Meadows, Wangechi Mutu or Komi Olaf is a favorite pastime.
Build It, and They Will Come
Indeed the senior software engineer’s memo was an embarrassment for Google, but perhaps we needed an anti-diversity manifesto to wake us up to the enduring limitations of diversity initiatives in environments that are hostile to inclusion. Of course, there are forward thinking executives at Google, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, Intel, Tesla, IBM and others. Without a doubt there are enlightened employees that don’t harbor racial or gender resentment, fear diversity or subscribe to stale bigoted viewpoints. The people of color and women of Silicon Valley will be welcomed at HubCity Live! Let’s build HubCity Live! and they will come.