“I have this enormous privilege. It would be a shame to not use it. Then again I get the thinking around it because I was brought up with that pretty much instilled in me since I was like five: like work for your stuff and then it’s your stuff and no one else take your stuff away from you. Like what’s the point of hoarding all this thing and not helping someone else?”
Gabor Javorszky is a freelance software engineer focusing on ecommerce stores, API implementations and integrations, and making sense of business needs from human and engineering perspectives.
- Dear white people, we need to talk about diversity and inclusion
- “Men are trash”: the surprisingly philosophical story behind an internet punchline
- Survival Tips For Women In Tech
- So You Want to Talk About Race
- Can’t find women to speak at your conference? You’re not looking for them.
- Fuck You Gary Vaynerchuk
- White Men In Tech Ain’t Shit
Kim Crayton: Hello everyone, and welcome to today’s episode of the #CauseAScene Podcast. Today’s guest is Gabor Javorszky. I hope I got that right. [Laughs] Introduce yourself, Gabor.
Gabor Javorszky: Hi everyone. So, as Kim said, my name is Gabor Javorszky. I am a software engineer currently working on e-commerce websites, and in my not so ample free time, I enjoy rocking the boat and calling people out on some of the stuff that might not be awesome.
Kim: All right, so we’ll start with the two questions we always start with. Why is it important to cause a scene? And how are you causing a scene?
Gabor: OK, I think it’s important to cause a scene because if no one does, then nothing gets better; and then unfortunately, there are groups of people who are disadvantaged when it comes to you—just general life situations, work, health care, anything—and that kind of sucks. So I don’t want to live in a society where certain groups are more equal than other groups. So we need to change that, but no one is going to willingly give up their privilege and their power, and we have to fight for it, and I think that’s why it’s important to cause a scene.
Personally, I’ve had uncomfortable conversations lately in all walks of my life. Quite recently, I’ve been removed access from a closed Slack group because I dared to question that an initiative that one of the companies in the space made is actually a good idea; and apparently because I’m the person who most commonly causes conflict in the group, it didn’t make any more business sense for the group owner to keep me around.
Also, I like to have similar uncomfortable conversations within the company and on the Internet as well, by writing articles, retweeting stuff, or just engaging with people who I kind of hope can be persuaded into maybe thinking differently about some of the issues that they do.
Kim: OK, so I want everyone to understand who this individual is. So last year I started #CauseAScene, it’s a year old, and I had a young gentleman named Maurice to volunteer to be on the Web team and the second person to volunteer who reached out to me and say, “Hey, I want to help you with this”, was Gabor. And I was like, “Wow, thank you!” And I don’t know if you were fairly new to the community, ’cause I can’t remember, but I knew that I was very impressed because my web development skills, I had maxed them out basically. And so I was very happy to receive the support.
So when people—I’m bringing this up because people are always like, “Oh, I don’t know how to help.” You didn’t ask me how to help, you said, “Kim, I have these services. Do you need these skills?” That’s one way people can help. And then you’ve been rockin’ and rollin’ ever since. You go on the website, you notice a problem: “Hey, Kim, this isn’t working right, let me fix it.”—and it’s done. That takes a hell of a lot of strain off me and what I’m doing.
And I’m sure there are other people who—individuals are following and they could offer the same support to these individuals, or similar support and how to use our technical skills for something other than sitting back, saying, “You know what? That’s great”, or “I really wanna but I don’t know how.” Or, “Can you tell me how?” That’s more work on me. Come to me with skills and say, “Hey, I see that you need this in this area. Can I offer my skills?” So I’ve never thanked you personally, publicly, and I wanted to thank you for—like I said, you’ve been around the longest, and I really appreciate you having the confidence in #CauseAScene when I was still trying to figure out what the hell #CauseAScene was. So thank you for that.
Gabor: You’re very welcome.
Kim: One of the things I wanna talk about and, well, two of the things that I wanna talk about—but before I get there, I wanna ask you, where do you live? ‘Cause there’s an accent and I’m asking for reasons. So where do you live?
Gabor: So currently physically, I live in the UK, in Oxford City. But I was born in Hungary and I went to a bilingual high school. I pretty much had English lessons all throughout my kindergarten and primary school as well, and I had all sorts of teachers from different places of the world.
I was fortunate enough to visit New York City in an exchange program, so I lived in Brooklyn in 1999 for four months and then in 2001, I lived in New Zealand for four months. So pretty much all around the world. I don’t know if that answers your question.
Kim: No, it really does, it gives me way more detail than I needed—well, than I was hoping for—no, no, than I expected. But I’m glad you said it, because the reason I’m bringing this up, and I’m going to talk about your article in a moment, is because I want people to understand that the topic we’re about to talk about, white supremacy, racism is not unique to the United States. [Sighs] And I hear this when I’m in other countries, “Oh we don’t have this problem.” And yes, you do. [Both laugh] It just shows up in very different ways, but white supremacy is a global phenomenon.
And so first of all, again, I knew you from your development skills, had no idea about your writing skills, and I was just blown away. So you wrote an article on September 2nd and it was titled “Dear white people, we need to talk about diversity and inclusion.” And when I saw it, I thought it was not—like, many people who write about these things, they really stay on the surface ’cause that’s as much as they know. I was so impressed, not only by the writing, I mean, you’re a really great writer, but the level of detail and examples and hyperlinks that are in this doggone article, it’s something I would do. It was like, we’re literally teaching.
And you had a backstory to that, ’cause when you shared it on Twitter, there was a backstory, like, you were just frustrated and you just thought about it. So tell us where this came from? What led you to write this? What responses have you been receiving from writing this? So the floor is yours.
Gabor: OK. Well, that’s going to be an interesting one. Where do I begin?
Kim: Wherever you like. [Laughs]
Gabor: Yeah, I’m trying to collect my thoughts. OK, so I think one of the issues that I started writing it is there was a conference called phpCE, which was I think Central Europe, and they decided to not hold the conference, they completely cancelled the conference because some of the speakers and would-be attendees essentially called them out on having an all-male speaker line-up.
And, you know, it’s 2019. I get it that it’s Central Europe, and in Central Europe, white people are the overwhelming majority. There’s very few people of color here. But still, half the population is still women. So at least that could have been attempted because I’m pretty sure that there are people with sufficient technical skills that are not white dudes who can also stand up and say, “Hey, I have this idea. I have this knowledge. I want to teach you it.”
But that wasn’t the biggest problem. The biggest problem was that when they were called out, they kind of acted like hurt kindergarteners, I guess, that instead of saying, “Hey, yeah, totally, we hear you, this is a problem, and let’s rethink, let’s reopen the calls for paper, let’s actually go out and solicit women and people of color to apply and share their knowledge,” instead they said, “You know what? No, you’ve been mean to me and we’re just not gonna have the conference.” Like, OK, done. So that pissed me off in one hand.
The following Twitter conversation around that kind of broke into two groups. One of them, one of the groups was in absolute total support of them being called out on it. And yeah, you know, it’s 2019, that shouldn’t be an issue. And the other one was kind of the assumption that if there are no minorities or women or people of color applying to something that means that they are not there, and then people, just like the organizers, just shrug and just go, “Well, what can we do? We have to select people from the available people that apply to us, and all of them happen to be white men.” Which again, I kind of understand, but it’s just not good enough, yeah.
Then the other issue was, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to get in trouble for this, but—I had a similar conversation inside a company and I said, you know what? I kind of would like diversity and inclusion to be a thing at this company, because currently we’re nine white guys and one woman. And that isn’t setting up the company to have the necessary culture, I suppose, to be able to attack any problem and solve any problems from a lot of different views, and we’re going to have blind spots, huge ones.
So I said, you know what? Yeah, let’s do that. And then I didn’t really get a positive response to that. I was kind of told that, you know, diversity and inclusion is important for us. And it just didn’t seem like it. So I sat down and typed out all of the things that I had in my head.
I was reluctant to—obviously we share a Slack group, so I could have just pinged you before I hit the publish button, and potentially ask you like, “hey, did I get stuff wrong?” But honestly, I was afraid of getting stuff wrong because I come from this from a white guy’s perspective, like, I am missing so much context. I am missing so much culture. I am missing so much experience of being on the wrong end of being discriminated, that I didn’t really think that the article would do that well.
So I was super surprised and massively honored when you said, “Holy shit, this is awesome!” The conversations I’ve been having were interesting. Most of it has been positive. I’ve had, like, two people on Twitter argue with me about the usual things like, “Oh, we get it. You hate white people. You could have just said that instead of writing a 4000-word article,” I’m like, yeah, no dude, you’re missing the point.
But I also got a direct message from someone totally random, and he said, “Well, first of all, thank you. Second of all, it was hard to read it as a white guy,” and that he sees that he’s reluctant to kind of accept and take in some aspect of it. But he’s getting there, and that’s all that I can ask of anyone. Just give it a go and see if that’s something that you want to do. And then go and sit with your feelings about it.
My brother, well, I did ask him, before I hit publish, and then he said that he kind of just left the link in his WhatsApp for half a day because he didn’t want to read it, because he had an aversion to the entire topic because, you know, damn social justice warriors rocking the boat, making my life uncomfortable.
But then he realized that actually that discomfort is precisely the reason he should read it, and yeah, he did. I don’t actually know what he thought of it because we haven’t really had a chance to have a conversation about that one due to some other family issues being more important at the moment. But, yeah, I think the impact was positive. Yeah, I think that’s my thoughts around it, I guess.
Kim: Yeah, one of the things I wrote down is, I was having a conversation recently, and this is so—again, I wanna thank you. I’m happy you didn’t reach out to me, and you got someone else to help you with it, because it’s like these podcasts, I like being in the moment of it. So I really appreciated learning that aspect of you that I didn’t know about, and so it was like, this is really well thought out. The links are there. This is a demonstration of someone who struggled with this, and is learning, and has been trying to figure out how to articulate this and has done a great job.
So I get that, particularly as a educator, I get that, and so for me, again it confirmed that I made the right choice of letting you be a part of the #CauseAScene personal team, because those are the individuals who are closest to me, and I have to have absolute trust in them. So it totally confirmed that for me, I was like, “Yeah, OK, good!”, you know, it’s nothing better than knowing that the people around you are also doing the work.
The thing that gets me, and I used to say, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” I’ve kind of moved away from that, because discomfort is something you can opt out of. Pain is something you don’t. And unfortunately, and people think I’m being masochistic or again, you know, I get the “I’m racist. You just hate white people,” kinda crap. But I’m really of the opinion at this point, ’cause I’ve said, white supremacy is the parasite that’s now eating on its host, which is white people. You’re not in enough pain.
And the fact that there are individuals who let me give it a go speaks specifically to privilege because I don’t get to give it a go. Every day, this is my reality. If you can opt out of having conversations about the harm that your actions or the people who look like you actions are causing to other people, then you’re not the victim. And I get it, I really—and you spoke earlier, you said something about you were removed from a Slack group. This is the fear of so many white people, particularly white dudes.
And it pissed me off that my live got shut down and removed from Periscope when I said white man in tech ain’t shit, because if you people would have listened to it before reacting—but this is another thing about the discomfort, you can opt out, and then you can try to silence me the entire video was about dudes. Basically, I’m sick of this shit. I’m sick of the excuses—you have all the privilege in the world and you too afraid to use it. So you’re telling me you used it and was removed from a Slack group because you rocked the boat. Did you lose your job?
Gabor: No, I mean, not yet, but—
Kim: OK, no. Did you lose your job?
Gabor: No, I didn’t.
Kim: Did you lose any income?
Gabor: I did not, no.
Kim: Did you lose any friends?
Gabor: I don’t think I did. I lost access to some of the people that I communicated [with] on that Slack. But everyone kind of knows how to get in touch with me anyways outside of that. I know how to get in touch with them outside of that. It’s a convenience issue from this point on.
Kim: OK, so that’s the point I’m making. Yes, your situation is changed. It’s not as easy. People have to make more effort or you have to make more effort to contact them. The point I want to draw on, and this is why I’m happy you really told me about your travels, and where you been, is because there are many people in our community who don’t get that.
We speak up, we lose our jobs. We speak up, we lose our income. We speak up, we lose access to friends. We speak up, some of us are physically harmed. And I’m not suggesting that anybody put themselves in harm’s way; what I’m asking you is to look at what you really have to lose by standing up for the person who has the most to lose, but speaks up anyway because they have no other choice.
Gabor: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I had this enormous privilege. It would be a shame to not use it. I mean, then again, I get the thinking around it because I was brought up with that pretty much instilled in me since I was five; work for your stuff, and then it’s your stuff, and no one else can take your stuff away from you. But like, what’s the point of hoarding all of this thing and then just not helping someone else?
Gabor: …and then just not helping someone else?
Kim: OK, so I want to stop you there because it’s interesting, cause that’s, oh, wow, I’ve never had that—I’m not even gonna say conversation. No one in my life has ever said that. In our communities, if we have that thought, we are considered absolutely selfish. It is all about the community, it is all about if you get you need to bring, if you make it, you need to reach back and get the next person. If you have it, it is your responsibility to share with those who don’t have it.
And these are the things that I’m talking about. People assume that we’re having the same lived experience, and we don’t. Whiteness is taught that every— is yours, and you deserve it. And you don’t have to give it away. Yeah, we’re not taught—this is totally the antithesis of what we’re taught.
I guess I’m happy because we couldn’t survive if we didn’t have that communal understanding and perspective. But it explains a lot why—for me, when I ask, or when someone asks me, I’m thinking about my own stuff first, because I wanna make sure I’m safe, I gotta take care of myself, but that was something I had to learn to do. It wasn’t something that I was taught to do. Me putting myself first is something I had to consciously make a choice about because it’s always how is it gonna help the community?
And that’s how I kind of find myself being frustrated and having to pull back sometimes and goin’ offline, is because I recognize that I’ve put the #CauseAScene community’s needs above my own. And then that’s when I have to go recalibrate. And that’s how most of us—I’m gonna say people of color—are raised, that we don’t have that take-all-or-nothing. And the people who are like that, they’re shunned. But I could take that back because now they’re being glorified and deified because they’re following that white model.
Gabor: Yeah. Like, when I was in high school, I read all of these business books and self-help books, and I looked up to all of these quote “self-made millionaires” unquote, who upon closer inspection, turned out to be not actually self-made millionaires because, hey, he had $3 million to start with.
I thought that by adopting the traits of these people that I read about in books—the cutthroat deal-making, the swindling, the, “what’s important is that I get my stuff, and then if they don’t get their stuff, then that is just a reflection on how badly they negotiate” kind of thing. It screwed me up a lot. But then again, at the time, there was kind of like the accepted and expected way of becoming a better business person. As much as a 17-year-old can think of becoming a hustler and business person can.
Kim: Tell me how, give me an example of how that screwed you up. Because I talk about this often as well that this is not about saving the poor Black or Indian or Latinx or LGBTQ community, that this mindset, this take-all mindset is actually harming white people. And so, if you could give me an example of how this messed you up.
Gabor: So I used to follow Gary V, Gary Vaynerchuk.
Kim: Oh, yeah, I stopped following him as well. [Laughs]
Gabor: And it took me a while to figure out that actually, that kind of hustle that he’s promoting and encouraging people to copy isn’t something that I can replicate, because I’m not Gary V. I do not have the context of his life. I do not have his name. I do not have his connections. I do not have his starting point. So I tried to kind of model something that I wasn’t even able—
Kim: Oh, my god. You just spoke to it. OK, so we gonna keep going. This is so amazing. You just do not know how much tingling I have over here, because what you just described is when whiteness is put up as the standard. And I wrote something about this the other day and I wanna read this, when whiteness is put up as a standard, let’s say of beauty. Where is it that I put that? Here. OK, so I was writing notes for the “How to Be an Antiracist” Chapter 2, the second episode. I was taking notes in my head, and this, what you just said, is just interesting.
I said, “Unrealistic standards of beauty that values whiteness, thinness, maleness, and Anglo and Anglican features as the default, the closer you are to the default, the more privilege is bestowed upon you and the further you are from the potential harm caused by your position. This has had detrimental long-term, lasting effects, on the more distance there is from the default, even when biology makes such a goal unobtainable, which causes psychological, emotional, and physical schisms.”
And so it made me think about the white women as the beauty myth. So I remember when I was middle school, high school, I wanted to be a model. There was no way I was gonna look like the white models that were on, that were that were famous at the time, not even the Black ones. The Black ones were shaped like white women and they were just Black. And so instead of me seeing that as a flaw in the system or a flaw in the standard that is the default, I saw a flaw in myself.
And it leads to a place of not liking who you are. You see your body, which is your natural body in the mirror and because it doesn’t look like something that it could never be—now I could have plastic surgery all day long, but my body is not shaped like that—I’m not that tall, all these things—and there’s nothing I can do to fix that. And yet I keep getting these repetitive messages that that’s what I need to be to be beautiful. That, and if I’m not that, then I am not beautiful. I’m not valued.
Gabor: Totally understand. Like I had the exact same, well not the exact same, because obviously not, but very similar thoughts like, “Hey, you know, I should be emulating Gary V. I can’t emulate Gary V. I must be doing something wrong.”
Kim: Yes. And that’s what happens in our companies when we make these arbitrary standards like culture fit and individuals can’t meet those standards because it’s not even realistic to meet those standards. Those standards are often arbitrary. And you internalize.
OK, so this is why, when I first started in tech, why I started talking about mentoring developers. Because we have these programs, we have these boot camps, we have all this stuff, and everybody in this industry talks about how easy it is to learn to code.
It is not easy to learn to code. Learning is hard, period, and now you’re learning a language, which is totally different, and it’s a different kind of hard. And so what adult learners do is, when everyone around them is saying it’s easy and then you’re like, “I can’t do it”, you internalize that. And then you have people who could learn to code leave the industry demoralized because they were sold a false narrative.
And so that was another reason I agree with you with the Gary V. I was listening to him. I bought his books and then I was at the same time coming into my understanding of this whole oppressive system, and I just was like, there’s no way in hell I was ever gonna be any of this, and do I even want to be any of this? I’m a Black woman raised in the South. Do I want to have to work the hours he works? Do I want to neglect my family the way he neglected—I don’t want that.
Gabor: But that’s the next step, though. So at some point some people never actually go through the, “I want to be Gary V, but I can’t be Gary V, but I’m going to keep trying.” And then, “I’m going to sacrifice all of my house, family time, whatever onto it.” It takes a while to actually figure out that you know what? Gary V might not be the model that I need to follow, because if I admit that I don’t want to be Gary V, essentially what I say is that I don’t want to be successful.
Kim: [Excitedly] Yes, YES! Exactly! We make those two things synonymous. Yes. And instead of saying, “I don’t wanna be Gary V ’cause I wanna be me”, it’s because—they switch it on you, because when you say, “I don’t wanna be Gary V”, then you get, “You’re not working hard enough.”
Gabor: Yeah, exactly. And that’s just bullshit. Like, you know, I’m working way harder than some people that I see in the industry. I’m not a millionaire, and I’m totally fine with it at the moment. I’m not doing bad, but do I wanna be a venture capitalist-funded start-up CEO person? No. I lack the skills, I lack the ambition to actually go and do that, but in order for me to figure that out, that was hard. Because I was taught that you have to have the ambition because if you don’t have the ambition, then what’s the point?
Kim: Ah, this is a good conversation. I see so many parallels. And this is why I tell people, no, I do not hate white people or hate white men. It’s just that we’re all suffering. And it’s like with your privilege, you don’t see the suffering as much as I do because, you know, it’s the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I may be lower on the needs thing, and you may have your basic needs taken care of, but you’re still not living an enriching life that you could if you weren’t following these arbitrary, oppressive—because for the systems of white supremacy to work, you have to work with them too. There’re rules for you as well. You may have more privilege, but there’re rules for you as well.
And then you see that there—when we talk about the 1%. Now this is who don’t have to follow the rules. And this is what I say about a lot of people who, when—about Trump getting on, you know, Twitter saying what the hell he wants to say, and then you have followers who do the same thing, or you have people who who see him unleash all this hate on people and go out in the real world, and then they lose their jobs because somebody videoed them.
They don’t realize that, yeah, he has a level of privilege that most people in the US don’t have. And so you using him as an example of your behavior is only gonna hurt you.
Gabor: You know, like, you know, Gary V can work 100 hours. I can’t, because I’m going to drop down exhausted after week one. I don’t know what Gary V does. You know, good for him.
Kim: Gary V has a whole team, though. He’s not a solo. He has somebody who’s walking with him every single moment to create video with content, video, audio, all of that. His wife is at home taking care of kids. He has a complete team—and this is another misnomer. We think we can at least have any level of success that they have and be a solo.
No. It reminds me of—you see these people at the Oscars or whatever and their faces are, I mean, they are immaculate, the clothes and everything, and then you see them when they take their clothes off. Or if you just see the team that’s in that room, putting all of that together to make that look, it’s not one person.
And so— OK, I’m bringing this back again. So when we’re talking about inclusion and diversity, if we wanna have our Grammy moment, if we wanna have our Oscar-winning moment, if we wanna have our Emmy-winning moment, if we wanna have whatever award show moment, it took a team to get that person quote unquote “there”, because it’s not just that person’s efforts.
Gabor: Yeah, exactly. That said, Gary V really likes to sell it as, “Oh, I’m a solo person.” But he’s not.
Kim: Oh, yes! Oh, exactly! Exactly! Mhm, and so does Elon Musk. Yeah, they all like this. When I really thought about, when I really pulled back the onion on—this is a very privileged person here, who is a product of apartheid, who has two university parents, who could have the best computers and take them apart, who—all these other things, just keep adding all these other privileges to it.
No wonder you’re where you are. Shit, if I had half the stuff you are I’d be where you are. You know what I’m sayin’? And I’m glad you brought that up, because these individuals keep selling these things as if they’re by themselves, as if they’re doing it themselves, and they’re not.
Gabor: Because, I kind of feel like admitting that, yeah, I have this starting position where everyone starts at zero, and I’m plus 20, that it would invalidate all the things that they’ve done. And in a way, it would because it wasn’t them-them.
Kim: Yeah, they’re not as special as they’ve been selling it. Yeah.
Gabor: Yeah, like OK, fine. Elon Musk built Paypal, well, part of it. He built Tesla. He built SpaceX. But it’s not him; he just happens to be the CEO, he just happens to be the money man. But I’m 100% sure that all of the rocket engineers working at SpaceX are a million times smarter than Elon Musk is. Elon Musk just said, “You know what? I want to go to Mars. Make it happen.”
Gabor: Other people’s incredibly hard work and sacrifices make that happen, and then all of the world kind of stands up and gives a standing ovation to Elon Musk for making—
Gabor: —travelling to Mars possible. And then all of the people working at SpaceX who actually made it possible, they’re kind of like, “No, well, thank you for your service. Also, your request for unionizing is denied.”
Kim: Exactly. Once I started peeling back the onion—and this is all I’m asking people to do. Just start thinking more critically about the things you say and the things you do, and the impact that they could have on others; and the prequel of that is, let’s really pull back about all the systems that were in place to get you where you are.
I know that I’m where I am because my mother sacrificed to make sure I was exposed to certain things, because I was able to get student loans, because of this, that—I can draw lines to those things where other people can’t, didn’t have those same opportunities.
And so I had privilege. It’s not about me being special. I was able to leverage those, and there are a lot of things that I was exposed to that I was not able to leverage. And I had to come to terms with that, and what you just said was quite interesting.
What popped in my head was when people who have—so you have these stars, these celebrities, let’s put it that way—have celebrities who have these wonderfully complex lives, but they show on Instagram, and it’s just them, they don’t have these teams, and then you see their communities turn on them, particularly women, when they have babies and they have in-home help, and it’s like, “What? Why? Why you hiring somebody to do this?”
Because you’ve not shown how complex your life is and that you have help in every area of your life. And so now people are thinking, “OK, so why, they can’t juggle being a mom too, I mean, what was that?” And so we all, we’re putting unrealistic expectations on ourselves, which is filtering down to people having unrealistic expectations for themselves.
Yeah, ’cause I was a Gary V person, and so I was like, “Yeah, no, yeah, no. Yeah.” I could do everything he tells me to do in his Crushing It! book, and I still would not have the same results. It’s still not gonna happen. Not that way. No.
Kim: It’s still not gonna happen. Not that way. No. [Sighs] So, what’s next for you? You’ve written this article. You’ve heard some feedback. You’ve been removed from your Slack group. What’s next for you? What do you see next of you causing a scene?
Gabor: I don’t know. I kind of feel like I’m suffering through a bit of burnout. I think I’ve taken on way too much, plus family situation where an aunt and an uncle both passed away within a few days of each other.
Kim: Oh wow.
Gabor: So all of that has an enormous weight on me, and even—I haven’t lost anything from being banned from that Slack group, my ego is still kind of bruised, so I would be foolish not to say that it doesn’t hurt a bit.
Kim: Oh, yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Gabor: Like, I still wear it as a badge of honor. But is that because I really want to wear it as a badge of honor, or is that a coping mechanism?
Kim: Mhm, mhm.
Gabor: So for the next couple of weeks, I think I need to step back and regroup. Which again, is something that I know that I can do, and I’m conscious that other people do not have this luxury. And then, I don’t know, I guess we’ll take it from there. I mean, I assume this podcast is going to be published at some point. I also assume that the people I work with are going to listen to it, which is going to open up maybe a couple of more uncomfortable conversations. I don’t know the fallout of what that’s going to be.
Kim: And I thank you for being honest about that. Because this work does come with risk. It really does. And so again, it’s not about me saying I want white men to throw away what they have. Hell, that doesn’t help me. I want to leverage what you have, actually! And yet even in that, we all have a role to play in this.
Gabor: For example, I don’t like Facebook. I wish I could not have a Facebook account.
Kim: I do too, but my family and friends are there. [Laughs]
Gabor: Yeah, exactly. Facebook, as it currently stands, isn’t a force for good. I wish it didn’t exist. The engineers working at Facebook, I think, have a very hard moral dilemma to go through—well, some of them might not, but that’s a whole different conversation.
But I get that some people wanna quit, but can’t because they have rent to pay, they have bills to pay, and it’s fine. Like, don’t rock the boat if it’s going to completely crumble your life, because there’s no point. As you said, it doesn’t actually help anyone.
Kim: And you can find other ways of rockin’ the boat that will leave you in the fight to have that bigger fight another day.
Gabor: Yeah, I just decided that for me, in my situation, given the environment and the circumstances I have, this is a hill that I’m willing to die on.
Kim: Mhm, mhm.
Gabor: It might not have been the hill to die on a year ago. It might not be the hill to die on a year from now.
Kim: And those are personal choices, and I want people to understand, because I don’t want people to walk away thinking that you’re saying do nothing, or—
Gabor: No. Obviously, don’t do nothing, but there are a couple of really, really easy things that one can do to start helping. One of them is just listening to themselves think about issues and kind of catch themselves thinking something is of a certain way.
Just today in a totally different community, someone said that they need to get dressed because they have an interview, a video interview. But they also want to be cozy and comfortable, and I immediately suggested that if they’re a white dude just wear a hoodie. And then she said, well, if she was a white dude, that wouldn’t be a problem, because then she wouldn’t be judged on her ability to do her job based on what she’s wearing.
And that was [the] thought that I got blindsided by, because even then I prefaced it with “if they were a white dude.” I still kind of assume that, that’s like an unconscious assumption that I have, that I find it totally normal that because of Zuckerberg, white dude in a hoodie is just a totally normal quote “business attire” unquote. And it’s not for pretty much anyone else, except for Zuckerberg.
Kim: [Laughs] Yeah. And yet, what I am going to say is, if you don’t have enough power or privilege that speaking up at work would not make you lose your job—[Sighs] I’m gonna be harsh here, some of you need to lose your job, some of you need to make a stand because you’re in situations that are actively causing harm, and you’re being complicit. These are varying things. Some of you can have more impact by making change within your organization, if you can figure out a way to do that. Most of you, though, need to read, study, and pay the people who are doing this work.
Gabor: Oh my god, yes.
Kim: That’s just the bottom line. It is—I’m ashamed, well I’m not ashamed, you should be ashamed, community, that I have over 7000 followers and only 17 monthly sponsors at this point. Now, the reason I have it set at $100, ’cause you and I had a discussion about this, is because I did not want—I’m not a Patreon, so I wasn’t gonna do anything extra for these different tiers, I do enough.
But my thinking is, for many in this community—not all!—but there are many people in this community will waste $100 on a meal, just pop $100 on a meal. And if you can’t see fit to give me $100 a month, and that subsidizes the people who are scraping together, who want to support but only have $25, I don’t want their money. They need that money. And I could get this work done with 50 people by the end of this year.
That’s $5000. I can do all I need to do to pay my bills. I can run my business. I can do whatever I need to with 50 people givin’ me $100 a month. For this industry? That’s not a lot. And when I sit back and I look at, I have over 7000 individuals, and 17 people have made that commitment, I’m like, “OK, yeah, you’re not doin’ enough. You’re not doin’ enough. You’re not doin’ it.”
Also, my podcast number should be bigger. If you’re not doing that, at least you could be sharing the podcast with other people, so that the numbers can go up so we can scale this knowledge, this content, so we’re not starting from scratch.
Listen, when you talk about kindergarten, this is what particularly Black people say all the time. It is like starting the conversation with you at preschool every single time. This is why I say I’m not a inclusion and diversity expert, I’m a business strategist, but I can’t get past this because it’s like starting this conversation every single time. Do some work.
Kim: Take that bit off my plate. So when I come in the door, we can have a conversation.
Gabor: Yeah, exactly. And I mean, if they can’t pay you because they need that $25, and they do have Twitter, finding people who deliberately do not look like them, do not work in the area that they’re working on, lead different lifestyles, following them and then just reading their lives, day in, day out. That’s free. I mean, it’s a time investment, but that’s free. That’s how I started, because I realized that I’m in an echo bubble, or an echo chamber.
Gabor: And I knew that that isn’t going to take me down a road that I want to go down in, but I knew that I need to get a wider perspective and then, instead of going into the bookshop and lifting yet another self-help book on how to be an awesome person by this, you know, [Kim laughs] celebrity American—
Kim: Or how to work, how to squeeze 20 hours into four.
Gabor: Yeah, exactly! Like also, what the hell is with Tim Ferriss and his ubermensch, [Kim laughs] “Four hour is enough sleep?” I think, no, just don’t do that. Get some sleep. But so instead of getting yet another book and reading it and then having read that, it now takes up valuable space for dust to settle on, I could just go out and actually learn about—not actual life, because Twitter is still filtered life—but people share a lot of things on Twitter about their lives.
Kim: Well, one of the things—I’m gonna stop you there because I really want to make sure I articulate—what you’re saying is great, but, not but, put a period on that. If you’re from a privileged background, if you’re following people who have less than you and all you’re doing is following them and not giving anything back, you are a parasite.
So even if you can’t give back monetarily, you need to be figurin’ out how to be of service of those individuals because this is a problem in tech. Everybody wants stuff for free. We have this free concept, and me doing my work for antiracism is not the same, and I have a problem with open source too, but it’s not equal. It is not at all equal. And so if you’re getting a free education, you need to be giving something.
Healthy relationships are reciprocal. So figure out how you can reciprocate at whatever—and I’m not even gonna say makes you comfortable, so I want you to step outside your comfort zone, but I’m not saying to lose your job or to not pay your bills—but there’s some things you could be doing to support people who are doing this work that makes you uncomfortable so that you really feel, and that you are giving equal measure to what people like myself are doing.
Gabor: Yeah, but again, it’s a but. Doing the wrong kind of thing when people think that that’s going to help is, or could be, more harmful.
Kim: That’s why you need to ask. And that’s why I’m gonna go full circle before we close out and say, that’s how much I appreciate the work you’ve done for me, because you came to me and said, “Hey, can I help you with this website?” If it was not something that was gonna benefit me, that gave me the opportunity to—first of all, you said, do I need help? And that’s what you do, you don’t assume, “Can I help you in this area?” And then if they say “No, but I need help in this other area”, if you can’t do it, then do some work to figure out who you can find to help. It has to be reciprocal. White people cannot keep taking. You can’t keep taking. It is toxic. It is not in your best interest to keep taking without giving. That’s just not how relationships work.
Gabor: Yeah, and it’s hard to get there to realize that, yeah, it is toxic, and I am taking despite what I think of myself.
Kim: Yeah, so again, I was just starting and to have someone say, “Hey, I wanna help you”, I was like, “Oh, shit, people actually are interested in this,” ’cause at the time, I was still trying to figure out is this something that the community even wanted. And so, what would you like to say in your last moments?
Gabor: I don’t know. I guess people should go out, learn, and then do the help. You know, I don’t think of myself as this huge guru-type person. I don’t have anything of substance to say at this moment, because everything that I had to say now is in that article. Just don’t start arguing with people about their lived experiences, I suppose.
Kim: Ah, see you just had the perfect thing to say and we’ll end on that. Don’t argue with people about their lived experience. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Gabor: Thank you very much for having me.
Listen to more great #causeascene podcasts
Originally posted on August 19, 2018 I will begin this post as I begin each talk, with a list of my credentials because there’s always
There are many reasons that businesses succeed or fail but in an Information Age economy, one looms bright. The reason organizations like Amazon and Walmart