Charity Majors+ Your Authors @mipsytipsy CTO @honeycombio; co-wrote Database Reliability Engineering; loves whiskey, rainbows. I test in production and so do you. 🌈🖤Black Lives Matter🖤 Jun. 03, 2020 5 min read + Your Authors

i've been watching the trickle of "black lives matter" emails flow in from every company under the sun, and examining my own reluctance to follow suit, and ... this is it.

my reasoning may be right or wrong, i am truly not sure, but this rings absolutely true to my ears.

honeycomb has no Black employees. we care, we try, it comes up regularly; but we have failed so far.

yes, we have been laser focused on survival. but to be brutally, shamefully honest, i have personally let us off the hook because we are doing so well on other axes of diversity.

who are we to stand up and parrot our care for Black Lives? what bravery does that require of us, what sacrifice? when i know exactly how many times we have deprioritized hiring and training those lives, how many sacrifices we have _not_ made, it sounds ..grotesque.

a few people have said that we should say something to help "set the tone", or similarly high minded abstractions. maybe they are right. i am not saying i am right; i welcome corrections.

but it rings false. i am highly ..dubious?.. of our scripts around race and around victims.

i know what i'm supposed to say to glorify the victims and show off how i'm a woke white girl and racism=bad. i know the scripts...but repeating them feels more like..tribal rituals meant to bond politically correct ingroups and police their boundaries, not ✨disrupting racism.✨

i believe the reason honeycomb has so much credibility is because we speak from deep experience.

there is an authenticity, groundedness and self-awareness in how we talk about ourselves and what we do that only comes from living the life (of engineers, production) scars and all.

the "black lives matter" conversation is one where, well...we do not have that.

that feels like a conversation better served by us listening, taking a hard look in the mirror, and examining the many small choices we have made (or not made) that have contributed to the problem.

as a woman, as a queer person, as an operations engineer - those conversations i can confidently swagger in to with the confidence to be wrong.

here we are not equipped to lead -- *i* am not equipped to lead. here it feels we best show respect by listening rather than speaking.

i tend to be grossed out by acts that seem primarily performative or done to "raise awareness" or "show we care" -- instead of, you know, FIX THE FUCKING PROBLEM.

(honestly, i suspect twitter activism does more harm than good, all considered; but i try not to think about it 🙃)

part of my aversion is because i see the way we feel like we've DONE something by saying something, and thus let ourselves off the hook for acting in some way, likely a more costly and/or uncomfortable way.

so the honeycomb twitter acct remains mute for now. but we are not idle.

we have acted in a few small ways:

✊ sent an internal letter of anguish and solidarity
✊ reminded folks to take all the paid time off they need to protest, heal, etc, no questions asked
✊ but most of all, we are getting damn serious about hiring underrepresented minorities.

this is an intensely traumatic moment, and changing jobs is not top of mind for most folks, let alone underrepresented minorities. we SUPER get that and will try to find respectful times to approach. 💔

but.

when we ask ourselves, how can honeycomb contribute to lasting change?

it is by doing what we do best and ensuring we don't exclude Black (and Native, LatinX...) folks.

and prioritizing these first hires not to check a box but to establish a foothold that can become a pipeline--someday a stronghold--for powerful engineers and tech execs of color.

what actually moves the needle for real people? well, one thing is this: reputation. it makes me grit my teeth, but i admit that facebook is what opened the doors to venture funding for us.

honeycomb engineering has a sterling reputation, so we've got that to offer. 🐝

the best thing anyone can do for tech diversity is to develop the ability to hire junior engineers and grow them into experienced, sought-after, highly-paid senior engineers.

(if you are a senior-ish URM and this interests you, please ping @eanakashima or me to chat.. anytime.)

this is what we can do as a org: fix how we hire, and work our way up to hiring and developing junior engineers.

we can look critically at how we build teams and grow people to help equalize opportunities for Black professionals. we can nurture their talent and share what works.

it feels like such a small thing to do. but fuck. if this world was built out of lots of little shitty choices and shitty actions, maybe a better world could emerge if we earnestly just show up in the morning determined to do & be a little less shitty than the day before?

you know what's funny.. we don't talk about diversity that much, public or private. i don't think we've ever done anything for Pride, despite having loads of queer folk. we are half women, the leadership team is predominantly women, and occasionally i still hear a woman comment--

-"what a RELIEF it is" not to be trotted out for a second shift of Diversity Labor on the regular.

in my heart of hearts, this is all i hope honeycomb can become for other folks too: a place where no one HAS to think about diversity at work. unless you damn well feel like it. 🤓

anyway. i hope this doesn't come across as leveraging the unthinkable pain and trauma and rage of our Black citizens for my own personal gain or recruiting.

but silence definitely doesn't represent my level of caring for this issue either, so. we risk it.

🖤be safe my friends🖤

(credits: thanks @paulosman for the early morning cold splash of common sense and the contradictory luxury of ignoring diversity when on a diverse team; thanks @lizthegrey for their kind, steadfast vigilance, and for always trying to save me from myself 💜💙💚💛🧡❤️ 🥰)


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