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raceAhead: Most Americans Think Tech is Biased

July 20, 2018, 4:38 PM UTC
Technicians using digital tablet in server room
Technicians using digital tablet in server room
Erik Isakson—Getty Images/Blend Images

Here’s your week in review, in haiku.



An emoji for

the way you feel when your Boss

makes plans without you



The children in their

cages will never forget

what we did to them



Sex, guns, and money:

Politics unusual.

“The Americans.”



Remember when we

faked the moon landing? The world

was so simple then.



Brown trout or rainbow?

It’s all the same in Aspen:

They don’t watch the news

(by @mattpaese)



Have a stress-free and unusual weekend.



On Point

A new poll shows that Americans think tech makes people more biasedThe poll of 2,100 adults conducted exclusively for Fortune‘s 2018 Brainstorm Tech conference found that 63% of respondents believe technology is doing more to justify biased decisions than to remove bias from decision-making. A full 70% of respondents said that tech does more to amplify people’s biases than diminish them. And guess what? Most people blame the people who make the tech than the tech itself for the problem. A panel discussion on the topic raised some important points, and all agreed that diversifying the tech-makers is a key first step. “The output is only as good as the input,” said Bärí Williams, legal and operations adviser at Owl.Fortune

The missed opportunities of the urban tech boom
Andre Perry, a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, makes a great case for tech companies to invest in Pittsburgh, a city that is transitioning from post-industrial decline to growing technology hub. Google has an engineering office there and the city is on a short list for Amazon’s second headquarters. But not all of Pittsburgh is transitioning equally. Perry says the smart money would invest in his hometown of Wilkinsburg, one of the 1,200 majority black cities in the U.S. that is not yet benefitting from the tech boom. “What’s missing in Wilkinsburg is investments in people with real links to black-owned businesses, entrepreneurs and historically black institutions, which cultivate conditions for economic and social growth,” he says.
New York Times

Paramount TV president fired over racist comments
For five years, Amy Powell had been delivering hits for the network, but her career ran aground during a routine call discussing Paramount Network's First Wives Club rebootwhich will feature a mostly black cast. Girls Trip co-writer Tracy Oliver, the writer on the project, took to Twitter to express her concerns after the call. “Had a moment today that REALLY pointed out why we need representation across the board,” she began. Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos announced Powell’s dismissal in a memo yesterday that said "multiple individuals" raised "concerns around comments" she’d made during the call. Powell has denied the allegations.
Hollywood Reporter

Starbucks opens its first U.S. “signing store”
The store is the first dedicated to serving deaf and hard-of-hearing customers in the U.S. Set to open near Gallaudet University in Washington. D.C. this October, the store will employ deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing staff who are all fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). The D.C. location is being modeled after Starbucks’ first signing store, which opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2016. The U.S. store will have visual displays to signal when orders are ready, and employees will wear aprons with the word “Starbucks” embroidered in ASL.

The Woke Leader

Not sure that a signing store is a big deal? Watch this
Last year, the Miami office of David, the agency partner for Burger King, broke new ground by letting the always silent Burger King character finally speak – but in sign language, to celebration National American Sign Language Day. Turns out, there was no sign for a Whopper, but thanks to a crowd-sourced campaign, there is now. The call to action video which includes an ASL proficient King asking a diverse array of deaf customers for input, is equal parts delightful and moving. (It’s also silent.) The video of the first ASL sign co-created with a brand got more than 200 million media impressions.

The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah is not here for your comments on his comments
On Monday, the late-night comedy host made a joke about France’s World Cup victory, pointing out that the majority of the team is of African descent. “Africa won the World Cup,” he said, building on the joke. But French Ambassador Gerard Araud took offense and sent Noah a long letter explaining that the all of the players are accepted and loved as French people, which is part of the French liberal tradition of assimilation. Noah read the entire letter in a French accent between show scenes, doubling down on his original position. But, as Vox explains, the conflict is no joke. “It’s a debate about two competing visions for how liberal societies should handle diversity and racism.”

On having a voice, even when it fails you
“In this day and age, everyone has a voice, even if they don’t know it.” So begins this sometimes painful-to-watch TEDx talk by Rashad Nimr, a half-Palestinian, all-gay advocate who has been living with a profound stutter since he was three. At the time the video was filmed, Nimr was a recent high school graduate, a busy advocate for LGBTQIA teens in his home state of Connecticut, and a volunteer in refugee camps in the Middle East on summer visits. “Possibly because of my own struggle for voice, I have taken a liking to spoken word poetry,” he says. While the magic of watching his stutter temporarily disappear is extraordinary, what he says is even more so. “What am I supposed to do with identities that don’t mix?” he asks.


Realizing that my emotions are both POSITIVE and negative I will form daily HABITS which will encourage the development of the POSITIVE EMOTIONS, and aid me in converting the negative emotions into some form of useful action.
Bruce Lee