• Good morning.
  • Big week people. Big week.
  • The FT’s Chief Commercial Officer spent four days with our team to learn about how Product and Technology works. On Monday he shadowed the team on support duty for a bit, triaging and fixing bugs, came to a planning meeting, and we taught him some conversational topics for impressing his computery friends - Tabs vs Spaces, “bike shedding” and “rubber ducking”.
  • We shipped the engineering progression beta! I knew this next bit was going to be a slog. The first big - discovery, ideas, anything is possible always goes quickly with energy and enthusiasm. But getting from alpha to beta involved the less glamorous labour of listening to people, understanding them and improving based on their feedback. I wrote a blog post about getting from alpha to beta. It’s not very interesting but, as we all know, PUBLISH DON’T SEND.
  • The screening of White Frag as I have come to call it internally was great. We managed to exceed the expected turnout and had to order in more snacks. We did this largely by asking (white) people 1:1 “are you coming to the screening later? - it’s a very good film”
  • Some reflections on watching it for the fourth time:
    • Watching this film at work was absolutely excruciating. Though I had seen the lecture three times already, seeing it sat next to white colleagues that I knew had not considered their own racism in this way, folks who are more important than me, older, wiser, busier, more stressed. Seeing them watch Robin point out and dissect their white fragility and how it was protecting them from seeing or thinking about racism was unbearably awkward.
    • It was also differently excruciating, and far worse, watching it with my colleagues of colour. Seeing them listen to Robin D’Angelo say things like “I believe there is something profoundly anti-black in our society. Nothing annoys white people more than thinking black people got something over on them that they didn’t deserve” made me feel like I might actually cry. I felt the weight of what I had organised - I had convinced a group of people of colour to come to a room and listen to the many ways in which they were at a disadvantage. Things they already knew and had been dealing with all their lives. These feelings are mine to sit with, I’m not bringing them up because I want any kind of reassurance from anybody. I think they’re useful because they give me a thing to improve on. I should have been direct about checking with my colleagues (who were mostly from the Embrace committee, with whom I had organised the event) that they knew the contents of the lecture ahead of time and were still interested in attending.
    • After the event I spoke to a few people, the white people were wide eyed, still rolling the lecture around in their heads, turning it over. The people who had seen it before told me on second watching they had gotten more out of it. It’s very dense so there’s a lot to miss the first time. I heard from some people of colour that they also found the lecture useful as it had given them a language to codify things they knew but hadn’t worked out how to say.
    • For me, the takeaways remain similar to what I wrote about before: this lecture has given me the language to talk about my own racism and white fragility. I’m not afraid of “saying something racist” anymore because I know that fear is stopping me from acting to combat racism. I know that the pro-move is (as with everything) learning how to apologise, repair, and not repeat mistakes.
    • I don’t waste time feeling guilty about my white privilege because that guilt isn’t doing anything unless I convert it into action. I also don’t tell people I feel bad, because that just puts some emotional labour on them to comfort me which is the absolute opposite of what I want to do.
    • After I watched the lecture the first time, something I did think about was the fact that Robin D’Angelo is white. Would that lecture have landed with me if she had been a woman of colour? Almost certainly not. I might not even have heard about it. Another thing I considered is the difference between the United States’s history and that of Great Britain. I resolved to address these issues by learning about the UK’s racial history, and reading it as told by people of colour. It took next to zero effort to find Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book “Why I am no longer talking to white people about race” and this Akala interview with James O’Brien. Both of these are really useful follow ups to D’Angelo’s lecture, and cover the history of race in Britain (spoiler - it’s also bad)
  • 😓

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