Sara Chipps

“The thing that I keep coming back to is to not speak for or to make decisions or to pretend that I represent anyone that has a different experience or different affinity than I do.”

Image of Sara ChippsSara Chipps, is a JavaScript developer based in NYC who has been coding since the adolescence of the web. As user number 4140, she’s been avid member of the Stack Overflow community since it was in Beta. As Director of Community there her focus is on inspiring developers to build features that appeal to all coders. Outside of Stack she is the co-founder of Jewelbots, a company focused on inspiring girls in STEM through play.

Transcription

00:30

Kim Crayton: Hello everyone and welcome to today’s episode of the #CauseAScene podcast. My guest today is sara Chipps. sara, would you please introduce yourself to the audience?

Sara Chipps: Yes. Hi, I’m sara Chipps. I’m Director of Community at Stack Overflow.

Kim: What does that mean?

Sara: So, that means helping determine the strategy for the public Q&A side of the site as well as making sure to highlight our amazing contributors and listen to feedback from people that want our site to be better.

Kim: It’s interesting. I did not realize that that ecosystem keeps—we keep crossing’ paths here. [Laughs]

Sara: Yeah.

01:14

Kim: OK. As I always start each show with these two questions: why is it important to cause a scene and how are you causin’ a scene?

Sara: I love those questions. So I think it’s important to cause a scene because no one in power has ever given up that power because someone asked “pretty please.” Throughout history, we see those things are changed because someone caused a scene. I think the type of scene that I cause now with where I am in my career is challenging some long held assumptions about, first of all, building technology, who builds technology, and what they do and what they are like.

And one thing I have a privilege of doing is, because I’ve been a developer for almost 18 years, I can maybe ask a lot of the questions that junior developers might be afraid to ask—you know, because they’re so worried about their jobs—I can challenge those assumptions. And that is something that comes with a lot of experience that I’m grateful for.

02:26

Kim: All right, so we’re gonna just dive in and have a very frank conversation because again, I just did not know you worked at Stack Overflow, and that’s a whole different conversation for me. And we’re here for a different conversation. We’re here because you were one of the founders of Girl Develop It, and I have had several episodes and conversations about that space. And so before I start asking questions, I want to understand your role in Girl Develop It. When you started it, what was the intention? And we’ll go from there.

Sara: Yeah, so when we started Girl Develop It, it started off of conversations that myself and a fellow engineer had had around fear of asking questions in male dominated rooms. So we found that we both shared the experience of asking questions in computer science classes and being afraid, being very afraid, that we would be judged based on the content of our questions.

So Girl Develop It was started in 2010 with the mission of making a place that women could ask stupid questions, or questions that they might feel were stupid, in a comfortable place that was for them. I was with the organization from then until early 2015, when I stepped away to work on my own company, but that is the reason why we started in the first place.

04:20

Kim: OK, so with the intention of… the fact of addressing the fear of asking questions in male-dominated rooms—because as I’ve documented that was not happening—so I really don’t want this to come off as an attack on you personally, and I recognize that you stepped away some years ago, and yet we need to address the fact that this was an organization you built. And how systems, processes, whatever did not—in 2019 or 2018 when this story broke—did not… What happened?

What happened, and also—and let’s be honest; OK, so the reason this conversation is happening, everybody, is because months after the story broke about the Girl Develop It community leadership at the national level and the board—there were Black women who were harmed. There was racism, there was discrimination, and you’re the first person who’s been in leadership who was willing to talk, but it’s months later, after the harm has been done, after the executive director has been allowed to walk away with no repercussions, after new board members have come on, after… it’s very disheartening, particularly for those women who were harmed to see that people continue to try to protect this organization, resurrect this organization, as if the harm that was caused to them is something they should get over.

So I’m wanting to have a conversation, and I’m saying this because I want to be as transparent as I possibly can, to find out how an organization that had the mission or the intention of removing the barriers for fear and asking questions in male-dominated rooms. How did we get here? And you can only give me your perspective and I get that, so if you could give me that.

06:49

Sara: Yeah, yeah, so I followed the GDI strike pretty closely; in fact I heard about it from your podcast, which I was listening to. And I was overwhelmed by the bravery and the courage of the women that stepped forward to speak their truth and to talk about their experience. I think that one thing I’ve observed, and I don’t know if you’ve seen the same, but whenever one person in an organization speaks up, there’s usually five behind them that didn’t speak up because they were afraid of the repercussions.

So I think the fact that we’ve seen quite a few people step up in the past few months has been telling. I can’t speak on behalf of the organization for the past—what the organization has done since 2015. What I can say though is a lesson I think that has come out of this, and I think that people should take out of this, is that when you are starting something that you want to have as a benefit to this community, making sure that everyone in the room doesn’t look like you is really important.

And I think that had that been thought of earlier, that it’s very possible that women like Shanice and Lanice and Jocelyn may—I can’t, you know, we can’t predict if that would have changed things, but their experiences may have been different. And so we can’t go back in time, but I think there’s a lot to be proud of for what these women stood up for, and how they didn’t back down, and continue to demand an explanation. And I think there’s a lot to be learned about making sure there is representation at the table when you are looking to help others.

09:31

Kim: OK, so thank you for that. And yet I’m going to challenge you, because this is the issue that we women of color, particularly Black women find often. It’s the after effect of “they’re brave, they’re this, they’ve done that, commend them, follow Black women, listen to Black women,” and yet it’s been months since this happened and you’re just speakin’ out. And so if you—and this is since you’ve left the organization, and you say you found out about this on my podcast—if you felt this and this is specifically you, but in general, because we’re sick of people comin’ into our DMs talking about how sorry they are, how they wish something would have happened. After the fact.

And I’m gonna read to you a tweet that I have pinned to my twitter. It says “PSA. For”—and it’s BIPoC which is Blacks, Indigenous, People of Color—”for BIPoC having white ‘friends'”—and I put “friends” in quotes—”comes with an enormous cost in emotional labor and processing the ‘unintended'”—and I put that in quotes—”trauma, you will inflict on us. So understand that we’re giving far more than we’re receiving. Knowing this, so you intend to operate differently?”

So Sara, it’s great that you had these feelings, but you took no action. You did nothing publicly to support these women. And that’s where it falls short for me because either you prioritize your own comfort, which means you threw the women under the bus, or you didn’t think it was important enough. But either way, you only came to my attention because someone called you out and said that you blocked them and you said you didn’t. And so this is my challenge. Yeah. This is my challenge. And this is… I would like you to address that, please.

11:58

Sara: Yeah. I think that’s a really fair question. I think that … I could there’s a lot of excuses that jump to mind immediately, that I’m not going to waste your time with. I think if I could go back, that I would change that. I was concerned about taking an important narrative about women of color and making it about myself. I also trusted that the organization would do the right thing. And yet here we are, a few months later and people are still looking for answers.

I think that—I recognize what you’re saying and I wish that I could have gone back and at least done what I could behind the scenes to help women that were calling out, fairly calling out the organization for ignoring their concerns. And I didn’t. And I don’t think there’s anything I can say now that makes that OK. But I am really inspired by what I’ve seen. And I don’t—yeah, I don’t think there’s anything I could say now that would change things.

Kim: So when you said you expected them to do the right thing, what in your mind was the right thing?

13:56

Sara: So what I read online is that people didn’t feel heard, right? They didn’t feel like the organization was addressing the issues they were bringing to them. They also felt like the people within the organization that were doing these things weren’t being held responsible. So I think listening and acknowledging the feedback as well as holding people responsible for their behavior seems like—you know, armchair quarterbacking is really easy—but based on the feedback, that’s what I’ve seen that people are looking for.

Kim: OK, so I know you can’t speak for your cofounder, who is Vanessa, right?

Sara: Mhm.

Kim: OK, so this is for you and for the audience. I’m just going to lay out what I saw happen. So you had an incident that happened in Minneapolis, where two chapter—it was three chapter leaders, there were two white women and one Black woman who was totally ignored and treated poorly by those two white women that was called out. And that’s when I first heard about it, and that was like in August of 2018, and then I was on the lookout for further issues ’cause I knew they were gonna be, because this is not unique to this organization. What this is is white feminism, and this was not going to be unique to this organization.

15:38

So I was just waiting for someone to get frustrated enough, and I knew it was gonna be a Black woman, because we’re always—we’re the targets with the most to lose, but it gets to a point where we just don’t give a fuck anymore. It’s just like, “You know what? If this ruins my career then so be it, because I’m just tired, because no one else is going to do anything. I’ve done—I’ve gone through the channels, I’ve gone through whatever and this is what happens.”

So this—an interview came out in December and you’re right, there was a domino effect. People reaching out to me and wanting to come on the show and talk about their experiences and so I had—various roles, it wasn’t just—so, Shanice came from the corporate office in a more of a support role. Then you have Marissa who was a director, then you had Tamara who was a community member in Minneapolis where this originally happened, and I say originally happened because I know it was happening other places, but that was just where Black women just got fed up and just spoke out. And then you had a conversation with two former chapter leaders who left.

And one of the things that I found very interesting about this organization and this is—I’m gonna attribute this to you because this was going on when you were—there were no effective processes in place for communication, there were no effective processes in place for paying people, there were no effective processes in place for anything running an organization at scale, which in turn—speaking to the chapter leaders that I have—they ignored the national and did what they did in their communities until they had to use the national for something.

17:31

So there was a huge disconnect there, so there were operational issues there. And in that space, having—this is where I again push back—having more diversity at the table when the focus is on white feminism does not help, it only harms. And so I’m pushin’ back on that because what we continue to do is bring individuals from marginalized, the most vulnerable in our communities into these spaces and expect them to heal, or correct the errors that are there, and it’s not their responsibility to do that. And what it does is cause trauma for them.

There were failures on so many levels in this space. And people who know me—and I’m sure you do—I’m being very reserved right now, because I’m feeling very… I just don’t understand why you didn’t say anything. That just, that breaks my heart right there, that you did not speak up. That you have—and this is—I’m saying this because this is what happens to us all the time. We have these quote-unquote “allies,” we have these people who say they care about us and they want to work towards a better community.

I had the same conversation this weekend with some white dudes in tech who are, you know, just wanted to moan on Twitter about the fact that they no longer feel safe in sayin’ and doin’ the things that they have normally done and so they’re not gonna do anything. When whiteness enters a room of marginalized people, it causes harm because it centers whiteness. And I can’t solve this problem, white people have to solve this problem.

19:33

But if you’re not even willing to speak up, when you are hearing the stories of people who are telling you that they are being harmed and you believe them, it’s not like you believe this is fantasy, and you still won’t take action? I don’t, I don’t know—it’s frustrating, it’s frustrating for me because for us it’s not, we don’t have a choice. And that’s that’s the privilege. When you get a choice to—you have access to things, and you get a choice whether you’re gonna engage or not.

And that’s what I mentioned today in a tweet. It was like asking individuals, these individuals who claim they want to be allies. It’s like asking, inviting them to a party. But if they don’t like the theme of the party, then they decide they don’t want to go.

Sara: I…

Kim: And so I just really want you to just—I really, I need you to talk to me about why you chose the trust of these individuals over the safety and standing up and allying with these women.

20:36

Sara: Yeah, Kim I hear you. And if at the time I saw a clear path of, “Sara, if you step in here and you make sure that this story and this is being heard and these things are getting the credibility that they need it, this will influence the organization,” I don’t—since I have not been involved for so long—I don’t believe that hearing from me would have made a difference. If I saw at the time this is a clear path to making sure these things get heard, or this is a clear path to amplify Shanice’s message and make sure that these things are being looked at, then I think I would have said something.

Kim: Did you ask?

Sara: Did I ask members, did I ask, did I reach out to Shanice directly and ask her? I did not. And you know what, you make an excellent point. I definitely could have, I definitely could have done that.

Kim: And that goes to the—you said there was no clear path. There is never a clear path. We’re trying, we’re making this all up. We’re all making this up. This industry is based on misogyny, patriarchy, all these things, whiteness, white supremacy, racism, discrimination, and we’re all fumbling through the dark trying to figure this out. And yet whiteness continues to use “I did not have a clear understanding” as an excuse. So exactly, so if you did not reach out, how do you know that there was not something that you could have done?

Sara: You make an excellent point. If I had reached out to Shanice, she may have had some things that I could have done to help her. And I didn’t.

[Interlude]

23:31

Sara: You make an excellent point. If I had reached out to Shanice, she may have had some things that I could have done to help her and I didn’t.

Kim: Thank you for that. And I guess my next thing for you is—what have you learned?

Sara: I think that when I listened to your podcast the first time, I found myself in my living room and my immediate reaction was, “Oh, but when she’s talking about white feminists, that’s not me. I don’t act that way. I’m not, that’s not, I’m one of the good ones.” And immediately after finishing that thought, I was realizing that I was saying “not all white women,” and that my reaction was, “not all white women.” And how many times I’ve in public called out men for doing the same thing, and I think that, one thing I’ve learned from this is that white feminism can’t represent women. And it doesn’t.

24:54

And it is foolish to think that… intersectionalism doesn’t mean erasure, it doesn’t mean pretending that people can speak for others because they care, and that’s not enough. I think that, I think I learned that it’s not OK to say that you’re here for everyone, and have that be enough. And that that’s never enough. And that we’re all a makeup of our own experiences and when you haven’t lived through the experience of being a woman of color in tech, you can’t pretend to have the best interests of women of color at heart. And that hearing the whole experience of what these women experienced, it’s heartbreaking to know that if it weren’t for something that I was involved in, that may not have happened.

So I think this has raised for me a lot of questions of how best to have these conversations, how to make sure I’m never speaking or acting on behalf of someone, and pretending I have their best interests in mind, when I am not. When it’s not a partnership. Those are just some of the things that I’ve learned over the past few months and continue to learn being a part of this larger tech community.

27:49

Kim: Thank you for that. Yeah, so, OK, so you have, you have these learnings, you’ve had these experiences, what strategies do you have—or have you implemented—since then? Because now you’re at a platform that I’ve had a lot of issues with when it comes to exclusion and harm and you’re in this space that where that happens in the community. And so I wanted just to know… because it’s great; this is how people—first of all, I wanna talk about the fact that the reason that white feminism is so dangerous is because it requires women to focus on the sameness. The things we have in common.

And the things we have in common are being women. Well, if you’re a white woman, because you’re a default—whiteness is the default—that’s the only challenge you are facing. So you spend all your time fighting patriarchy. Whereas when you are a woman with a disability, a woman with LGBTQ, particular a person of color, and in the United States, a Black woman, there are so many other intersectional points that we fall into, and fronts that we need to work on simultaneously. And we don’t care about your pink pussy hats. We don’t care about your, “let’s have a sex strike.” Those things are not important to us.

What’s important? I say this all the time. Where for you, gender is your biggest issue, race is my biggest issue. And so that’s why white feminism does not appeal to me in any manner because it totally erases the thing that brings me the most harm. It totally says—asks me, and often demands—that I put that aside in order to fight with other women who—because whiteness is the default—that’s the only thing they have the energy to fight for.

30:06

Sara: Yes. So yeah, the question I heard from you is how are you changing your strategies based on this? And I think that’s a really important one. I can’t say that I’m—first of all, I’m still learning and will always be learning. But one thing I think that I have especially learned, or especially changed my strategy about as part of the learnings over the past six months, is that I no longer can be the decision maker when it comes to people that have experienced—when it comes to groups that have experiences unlike my own.

I think you’re—I really appreciate what you said about white feminism causing us to identify what we have in common and erase what we don’t. If I could use an example from something over the past few weeks: so one thing that happened recently in the community at Stack Overflow is one of our moderators was mis-gendering another moderator. And we do have a code of conduct, but in our code of conduct, we don’t have a clear message about not mis-gendering other people in the community. You know, if you know someone’s preferred pronoun, you should be using it.

And I think that one thing in the past, you know, maybe a few years ago, what I might have done would be to say, “OK, this is the change we’re going to make for that, and this is how we’re going to help reach that community, because that community is very important.” I think that the most important thing is to make sure that members of that community are being spoken to, and are being talked to about the decision making process from the beginning, and are part of the conversation. And so that is when I know it’s above my pay grade, and we need to incorporate people from that community.

32:50

So we reached out to people in the LGBTQ community that are part of affinity groups, and the conversation that we’re having around how do we approach this in our community in a way that is making sure your needs are served and not in a way that we think is the nice way to do it.

I think one of the things that I’ve taken away from this is—you’re right, white feminism doesn’t speak for other groups and the patriarchy is something that is part of a discussion, but it’s not the only thing. So, the thing that I keep coming back to is to not speak for or to make decisions or pretend that I represent anyone that has a different experience or different affinity than I do.

Kim: I don’t say much positive about Stack Overflow, but I’ll say that’s an improvement, a much needed and appreciated improvement. And that’s what happens when you prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable, because they will tell you what they need to keep them safe and to make them feel welcome.

34:12

And this is where a lot of individuals in our community make mistakes. Just because you have a friend or you’re married to someone that does not make you a part of that group, and does not make you—because I tell people all the time, I don’t even speak for Black women; I speak on behalf of Black women. Because even within our affinity group, there’s so many differences. And I can only tell the story from a Black woman who was raised in the South. That’s the story I know, and I can only, you know, give testimony to my lived experience.

And I would never say that—even conversations I’m tryin’ to have now, now that we’ve invited many marginalized groups into this space, is how do we manage those spaces so that we feel safe? And what I’m finding even in those spaces, when whiteness comes into the room, their marginalization is harmed. I’m seein’ it with white-passing Jews, and it’s harming Black and brown Jews. I’m seein’ it with white trans women, and it’s harming Black and brown trans women. And these are the conversations we need to have. They’re uncomfortable as hell, and yet, again, we’re all making this up and if we are going reaching out to the people who will be impacted by our decisions—and this is where Twitter and Facebook and social media platforms have failed because they’re leaning on this fallacy of freedom of speech and all this other stuff when people who are being harmed are telling you they’re being harmed, and telling you in specific ways that they are being harmed and to ignore that or to balance that or try to try to play the equal game with free speech is not—they’re not equivalent.

36:34

And I’m happy to hear that—because that’s a major lesson that you’ve learned and taken into that platform, because as you know, currently that platform is predominantly white men, and many people use that platform only to copy and paste or peruse a answer and get off. They don’t interact. They don’t feel safe in answering, they don’t feel safe in asking questions, and—which goes back to your original intention for Girl Develop It—they don’t feel safe to ask questions.

And so the narrative gets promoted that, “Well, they’re just not interested,” and no, it’s not that, and that’s the default we need to challenge. Just because they’re not there, that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to be there. The question needs to be why aren’t they there? Because they’re in the community, so we need to ask in all of these spaces, why aren’t these individuals here?

Sara: And I, yeah, I think that’s… you’re right and I know that it’s not your intention or your job to educate white women in tech. But I think that you’ve changed a lot of lives by the conversations that you’re having. I think it’s really important.

38:00

Kim: Thank you. It’s frustrating. As hell. It’s draining. I had to actually change my—recently changed my whole strategy, after a trip to Berlin, just because I recognize that I can no longer as a person from a marginalized group continue to educate privileged individuals on racism and white supremacy. It’s just too triggering for me, it’s just too traumatic because as I said in my pinned tweet, for me, for whiteness—and I’ve seen this with people I know care about [me]—I have I have a handful, literally five, four white people that I trust implicitly just with my life—and even they fuck up, and in their fucking up, I have to be harmed for them to get the lesson because again, as you said, you don’t have that lived experience. You don’t know those things that trigger, or that I am always looking out for, that I’m always observing my surroundings, you don’t have that experience.

And so when something happens, I tell my friends, I’m like, “In the future, when something happens, I need you to”—because I had this, this look on my face was just an absolute horror—”I need you when there’s a situation goin’ on, you need to see that face. If you think that my face would look like that around anybody, then you need to take action.” Because what happens is, and this is—it seems funny when you think about it—but it’s survival, and like I was saying just like the Black community; if we’re out somewhere and one Black person starts running, we all start running. We will ask why the hell we’re running when we stop running.

39:53

White people, on the other hand, do it differently. You want to debate, figure out what’s going on, get all the details, get all the data before you move. That is harmful for us. And that’s one of the reasons, and that’s why I say it’s funny because when we go to see like horror movies, we already know you’re gonna get killed because you’re gonna be looking back and tripping up and all this crazy stuff, and we’re just like gone, it’s like, “Nope. Not going in the house. That shit is making noise, not going in there. [Laughs] I’m not that curious.”

So we have very different experiences, but—not to even make light of it though—but when we move together, it’s out of safety. And so we don’t have the luxury of sittin’ around and saying, “Hey guys, why we’re runnin’? What’s goin’ on here?” I’ll deal with that when I get to the other side.

And this is where I need white people who want to do better in this space, is to trust us. You have to trust the people who are actively being affected by things that they know what they’re talking about. You see this all the time on Twitter: “Do you have examples?” I don’t need to give you—just trust this is my lived experience. I don’t have to prove that to you.

41:12

And there’s also—again, with the whiteness as the default—there’s this assumption that we’re having the same experience. So when I tell you something different, you start challenging it because you’ve never had that experience and we have to stop doing that. And so I really am—this is the second time I’ve said something nice about Stack Overflow [laughs]—I really am happy that you are going to those people who have been—’cause it woulda been easy to throw a sentence in the code of conduct about how are you going to do this; it would have been the easier thing to do—but being informed by those who will be negatively impacted by it is very wise.

I’m going to give you an example. I don’t know if you know Emily Gorcenski, but she’s a transgender woman. She lived in Charlottesville at the time of the… I don’t even, do we call it a riot? I don’t know what the hell it was. And she talks to white people about this. She was sayin’ that there were white protesters there who were yelling back at the Nazis and the KKK.

They in turn were not abusing or accosting the white individuals. They were turning that anger on brown and Black people. And this is where people need to understand, when you antagonize, when you say something and don’t stand by and wait to make sure these individuals are safe, you’re making them targets. Because they don’t see us as equal to you.

42:54

So although you may be aggravating them and pissin’ them off, if there’s another target there that they see as more vulnerable or less-than, that’s where they’re going to attack. And these are the things we need to be talkin’ about because, to come to me in my DMs later and say, “I’m sorry that happened to you,” after the fact, does nothing for me. When someone, if you see someone attacking me on Twitter or whatever, I need immediately engagement. I need immediate engagement.

Sara: So what I’m hearing from you, and just to repeat this out loud, is that the—I don’t want to talk about this like I’m just learning this ’cause I’m not, but I just think what you’re saying is so important—is that the best way to help is to ask instead of jumping in.

Kim: And I’m going to ask you, because you say it’s so important, but don’t you think that makes sense?

Sara: No, I do. I do think it makes sense.

44:15

Kim: I mean, just how you said that. That’s just—if you have, if you want, if you’re goin’ on a date [laughs] and you want to impress someone, “Hey, what do you want to eat?” Or if you are shopping for somebody, “What do you want?” We do this all day long. We ask those people we care about what can we do to ensure that they are comfortable? They feel safe and welcome.

So when we’re inviting marginalized communities and vulnerable individuals into our community, it’s no longer about assimilation, it’s about accommodation. It is asking them, it’s saying, “Welcome to this space, what can we do to ensure that you’re safe?” And if that requires you as the privileged individual to shift and become uncomfortable, that’s what you do. And that’s what I used to call a power ally. It is someone who is willing to make themselves uncomfortable so that I’m comfortable.

I recognize it as a Black woman—as a cis, hetero Black woman—I have way more privileged than trans Black women. So I’m going to make sure, as little privilege as I have, if we’re in an environment where they feel unsafe, I’m goinna protect them. I’m not gonna throw my hands up and say, “Well this was just, you know, yes, I trust me, I feel unsafe as well.”

45:42

But I know that since they are being targeted by Black men and misogyny, that I don’t get the same target, I’m gonna make sure that they’re protected. I’m getting them out of there, and I see them across the room, they look uncomfortable; I’m doing whatever I need to. I don’t want to put myself in danger, and yet I’m going to do something if it’s nothing more than pretend that we’re best friends and gettin’ ’em out of there. “Hey, glad I saw you, let’s go to the next party.” But to sit around wringing your hands and saying, I don’t know what to do is no longer acceptable. Because none of us know what to do.

Sara: That makes sense. I think the first thing I thought of was if it’s a family member, we’re reaching out to them and saying, “How could I help?”

Kim: Exactly. And that’s how we have to start seeing our community. That’s what community is. Communities are best when everybody is healthy. We can do more together than we can do by ourselves. But that doesn’t happen when the most vulnerable are continually harmed in the decisions that we make. Or the decisions we don’t make or the actions we don’t take.

47:07

And so that’s what was my frustration this weekend with these white dudes in tech whining about their fucking feelings. I’m like, “Dude, is that what you’re telling me about? Your feelings? Your feelings? Is that—this is the conversation we’re about to have. It’s about your feelings. When I know there’s somebody in your organization, somebody at that conference you’re attending, somebody in your immediate vicinity that’s feeling unsafe.” Again, we need to stop tryna make equivalents. They’re not the same.

So, in the last moments that we have together, what would you like to say? First of all, what would you like to say to those Black women from GDI that you’ve never spoken to? I mean that you haven’t—I want this to be public—and then what would you like to close with?

Sara: So, last week I reached out to Shanice and her and I had a conversation. And I found myself getting defensive and coming up with excuses. But I think the important thing that I’d like to communicate is exactly what I said to her first before coming here. And that is I’m sorry for not asking how I could have helped or what I could do to help make sure your message was heard.

48:43

I think that it is fair to say—you know, I make jokes with my friends about thought leaders in technology—but when that really matters is when there’s someone in the community that’s hurting and there was someone in the community that was hurting, and I didn’t do anything, I did nothing. And while I can’t—I can’t change that now but I think it’s important… well, I’m happy to have the privilege to say “I’m sorry, and I should have reached out then.”

As far as what I want to close on, I think nothing, I think I just hope you keep doing—what I want to close on is just please keep doing this podcast and letting people know and sharing your story. Like I said, it’s not your job to educate me or does it necessarily need to be part of what you do, but like you said, these conversations can be hard, and so having these conversations in public is—I have found to be really personally educational, and look forward to continuing to listen.

Kim: And one more question, what would you say to—because some of the old chapter leaders from GDI are interested in this conversation, white women—and what do you want to say to them?

50:53

Sara: I think I would want to say that I am really sorry that something that…  there was only the intention to help with Girl Develop It, and lots of great intentioned apologies start out that way, right? “You know I just wanted to help, but here’s how I really fucked up.” And so I don’t want to diminish the fact that lots of great people did really amazing work teaching others, but it is heartbreaking to know that something like Girl Develop It would end up becoming so painful for lots of people.

And I think if I am speaking specifically to the white chapter leaders, I would say that there’s just a lot to learn from what happened. And I know that no one will stop teaching without Girl Develop It. New people still learn how to code, and the people that have that passion will always have that passion. And I think from experiences like this we can learn, and as we move forward, and the new spaces that are created because of this, be thoughtful about how we are—who we are speaking for, and how we are incorporating the people that we can’t speak for.

Kim: Thank you so much Sara, and have a good day.

Sara: Thank you, Kim.