What It's Like to Be Black in Silicon Valley

What It's Like to Be Black in Silicon Valley

Nine Black technology leaders reveal the truth about their experiences in the tech world with Fast Company magazine.

Published November 13, 2014

Top technology companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google have released diversity reports for their workforce in the past few months showing in more detail how few African-Americans are present in Silicon Valley.

Fast Company magazine sat down with nine Black technology leaders to share obstacles in the ever-evolving space, including facing discrimination, not having as much access to start-up funding as their white counterparts and the feeling of exclusion in the recruitment process. 

Those interviewed were from across the technology realm: Amoy Walker, a teacher at the Girls' Middle School in Palo Alto; Tristan Walker, CEO of Walker & Company Brands; Faith Scriven, principal of Goodwyn/Powell tech-recruiting firm; Tony Gauda, founder of ThinAir and co-founder of Bitcasa; Tyler Scriven, Chief of staff of Palantir Technologies; Jaimel Gauda, director of customer success at Walker & Co.; Erin Teague, director of product at Yahoo!; Larry Erwin, business development at Google; and Kanyi Maqubela, venture partner at Collaborative Fund.

Fast Company reports:

Maqubela: It's frustrating. People are "big upping" each other because they look like each other. People are big upping each other because they are white. And if I big up somebody because they're black it's a problem somehow. That drives me nuts because, listen, I recognize [a new black hire]. We have a similar skin tone, and in fact, I do want to support somebody who looks like me. I think that's a good thing. Let's encourage that. I don't see why that is frowned upon. I don't see why that's reverse racism.

T. Walker: As a black man, if you do something well, people judge it two times in the positive direction. And if you do something terrible they judge it two times in the negative.

T. Gauda: I think it's 10 times in the negative. [Laughter] I think there's significant downside.

Read the full conversation here

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(Photo: Roberto Westbrook/Image Source/Corbis)

Written by Natelege Whaley


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