July 22, 2021

BIG TECH, RACISM, AND “DIVERSITY:” Silicon Valley’s Cynical Treatment of Asian Engineers.

Silicon Valley runs on Asians. This is a well-known aspect of the tech world in general, but it’s especially apparent in elite sub-sectors. Even by 2010, Asian Americans already had become a majority (50.1 percent) of all tech workers in the Bay Area: software engineers, data engineers, programmers, systems analysts, admins, and developers. Census Bureau statistics from the same year put white tech workers at 40.1 percent. Other races made up, in total, slightly less than 10 percent. . . .

At surface level, you could spin this as a triumph of diversity: Attracting the best of the world’s talent, the American system welcomes people of different races to contribute to American business and society. The narrative of Asians making a difference at a huge American company such as Google or Facebook could be portrayed as a great feat, a demonstration of the American Dream at work.

But that is not what happens. In press briefs and company images, we tend not to be treated to profiles of tech-team members—the core of these companies’ sky-high profits and market dominance. Facebook’s online diversity portal features nine stories. There are three people who appear to be black, and two who look distinctly Latino. Only one looks to be an East Asian person. His name is presented as Henry B.

Little did Henry B. know that he would be the only East Asian person featured, standing in racially for half of all Facebook technical employees. The other employees’ stories and photos tend to feature bright lighting, full smiles, and gushing reports of how much they care about Facebook’s diversity platform. Henry B. has a dimly lit photo and a story that begins, “There are different ways of coding an application to make it more reusable.”

Related: Asians Get The Ivy League’s Jewish Treatment.

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