Can you spot the female geek?

''... developing new Drupal modules and building complex websites!'' There is a double-arrow pointing to a white man flexing his bicep and a white woman wearing a bikini and holding a whip. The double-arrow says, ''A PERFECT GAME FOR GEEKS TO CONNECT WITH NON-GEEKS''I have been a geek for most of my life. However, my geek identity is rarely recognized in meatspace interactions, probably because I am female. You would expect that people’s assumptions about the science, math, and tech abilities of girls and women would be challenged upon encountering female geeks in real life, but I have found that being a female geek actually reinforces sexist convictions that girls and women do not really belong in science, math, and tech.

I remember when I won some physics award in high school, a male rival complained bitterly in the library that the physics award he felt he should have won ended up going to “some girl”. He actually said that, emphasizing the word girl, as if my very gender invalidates my right to win a physics award. He complained loudly on purpose so that I would overhear the barb. I was shocked that people could say such blatantly sexist things in [current year], in which sexism was no longer supposed to exist, especially among my youthful generation. Instead of challenging gender stereotypes, my physics geekery apparently reinforced this guy’s perception that male rights are being eroded by uppity females who get awards we don’t really deserve. If he remembers me at all, he probably won’t remember me as the geeky girl in the library, but as some bitch from high school.

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Black Coolness is higher-status than Asian Dorkiness.

''Power to the people. Black power to black people. Yellow power to yellow people.''The Racialicious post, Talking About The Things We Do To Each Other, is an important intra-POC conversation about tensions between black people and (East) Asian people (or rather between non-Asian black people and non-black Asian people). This is an incredibly complex topic, and I will have to respond to this issue through multiple posts.

Firstly, however, I must strongly disagree with Thea Lim’s characterization of East Asians:

I had a long convo with my friend L about this last week, where he said that East Asian students always gravitate towards white students, whereas African American students will usually stick together. The more we talked about it, the more I realised that he thought East Asian students do that because they aspire to whiteness, and because they can – economic privilege or light skin privilege allows them to do so. I was surprised to realise that he didn’t get it – East Asian students gravitate towards white students as a means of protection from the particular kind of racism that East Asians experience; where they are always made to feel as if they are from somewhere else.

Not only does this not apply to me as a (non-black) Chinese Canadian, but this whole situation does not apply to the schools I attended growing up. Perhaps it is a class difference and/or regional demographic difference, but the situation that Thea describes would be impossible at the public schools I attended.

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Zaibatsu was a hidden black man on Digg.

Zaibatsu, a.k.a. Reg Saddler, is best known for being the #4 Digg user of all time (despite being arbitrarily banned from Digg since September 2008). A political progressive, Zaibatsu had the power to collect Internet news stories that were ignored by mainstream media and bring it to the web’s attention.1 (Zaibatsu contends that he is even more influential now, since he has relocated on to Twitter.)

A lesser-known fact about Zaibatsu is that he was a top Digg user for a long time before he outed himself in 2007, revealing himself to be a black man who had previously kept his racial identity hidden.2

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United Nations is racially colorblind, and thinks that Canadian term “visible minorities” is racist.

Apparently, the United Nations thinks that recognizing race is racist. Here is an article from last year, March 08, 2007:

UNITED NATIONS – Canada’s use of the term “visible minorities” to identify people it considers susceptible to racial discrimination came under fire at the United Nations Wednesday – for being racist.

The world body’s anti-racism watchdog says in a report on Ottawa’s efforts to eliminate racial discrimination in Canada that the words might contravene an international treaty aimed at combating racism.

For people who want to discuss racism, this accusation is sounds familiar. A person who points out an instance of subtle racism is often accused of being racist herself. The accuser argues that this person is racist for noticing race. Would this be the reasoning of the UN committee?

Canada’s Employment Equity Act defines “visible minorities” as “persons, other than aboriginal people, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.”

To the committee, highlighting a certain group does not appear to be consistent with Article One of the convention, which says racial discrimination occurs when equitable treatment is upset by “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.”

Recognizing race is making a distinction, but recognizing race does not necessarily lead to exclusion, restriction, or preference. “Visible minority” is a meaningful and intuitive term that recognizes that those who do not appear to be “white” may be discriminated against because of their physical racial appearance, which is a separate factor from their ethnicity, language, and culture.

An explanation of why colorblindness subverts antiracist work is well-articulated by Magniloquence in the post Race Relations 101: Colorblindness:

I don’t want [my race] to not be a problem for you; I don’t want race to be problematic.

The distinction may seem subtle, but it really isn’t. When a person says “I don’t see color” as a way of saying “your race is not a problem for me,” it casts the problem as race. Race is not the problem, racism is.

The news article on the UN accusation continues:

Speaking at the committee grilling of Canada last month, committee member Patrick Thornberry went further.

“The use of the term seemed to somehow indicate that ‘whiteness’ was the standard, all others differing from that being visible,” says the British international law professor, according to UN note-takers.

First, let us bring up the normative versus descriptive distinction. In philosophy, a normative statement is a statement about how things should be, while a descriptive statement is a statement about how things are.

Normatively, whiteness should not be the standard, and all others differing from that should not have a unique visibility due to their non-whiteness. Descriptively, however, it is true that ‘whiteness’ is the standard, and that all others differing from that do have a unique visibility due to their non-whiteness.

Rachel’s Tavern notes that the inability to make this [normative versus descriptive] distinction is one of the central problems with colorblindness:

Moreover, like most people I hear discuss race, she was unable to make a distinction between “should racial issues/identities matter” and “do racial issues/identities matter.” This is, of course, one of the central problems with colorblindness. Maybe in an ideal world where race was never invented race wouldn’t matter, but we don’t live in that world.

Other Related articles:

White people are the most segregated.

In American public schools, whites are the most segregated, while Asians are the least segregated.

The statistics from the 2000-2001 school year show that whites are the most segregated group in the nation’s public schools; they attend schools, on average, where eighty percent of the student body is white. The two regions where white students are more likely to attend substantially interracial schools are the South and West. Whites attending private schools are even more segregated than their public school counterparts.

This may be surprising at first for some white people who are unconscious of the pervasiveness of whiteness. However, this fact becomes unsurprising when given the quote above which racially frames a familiar sight or experience. Most racial minorities in North America live in metropolitan areas that are typically racially diverse, while more white people are spread out in suburban and rural areas that are overwhelmingly white.

However, on seeing a group of white people, most North Americans would not categorize the experience as seeing a “group of white people”, but the group would instead be remembered as just a “group of people”. On the other hand, people will see and remember a “group of Asians” or “group of black people” because minority races are foregrounded against the white-race background. The bias to remember relatively unusual instances makes it seem like non-whites are more segregated than whites.

Michael Kimmel’s article “Toward a Pedagogy of the Oppressor” discusses the invisibility of whiteness and the invisibility of privilege in general.

To be white, or straight, or male, or middle class is to be simultaneously ubiquitous and invisible. You’re everywhere you look, you’re the standard against which everyone else is measured. You’re like water, like air. People will tell you they went to see a “woman doctor,” or they will say they went to see “the doctor.” People will tell you they have a “gay colleague” or they’ll tell you about a “colleague.” A white person will be happy to tell you about a “black friend,” but when that same person simply mentions a “friend,” everyone will assume the person is white. Any college course that doesn’t have the word “woman” or “gay” or “minority” in the title is, de facto, a course about men, heterosexuals, and white people. But we call those courses “literature,” “history,” or “political science.”

It is ironic when some white individuals accuse racial minorities, especially Asians, of being especially segregated. This is not reality, but this myth is rarely challenged in discussions where the participants are mostly whites unconscious of their whiteness.

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