You Can Thank Our Mothers for Your Success

I was raised by a single mom, an immigrant from South America who left her family, support system, and incredible career as a well-connected influencer for a completely different life in the United States. My mother, a beautiful and talented woman, became a domestic worker. And for most of my youngest years, she cleaned wealthy people’s homes and offices so they didn’t have to – so they could focus on their own families and their own careers.

Intelligent and talented women of color, like my mother, make up nearly one third of the nation’s workforce, but when compared to white women, they are twice as likely to be employed in lower-wage sectors. And when they’re employed in lower-wage positions, they work several jobs to bring home a decent amount of money. When they work several jobs, they sacrifice time with the families and children they love. I am one of those children.

Regularly, my mom came home from work with stories about the people she worked for and the way they treated her. She talked to me early and often about her reality, the other workers she met, and the interconnectedness of multiple issues. Latinas are most likely to be domestic workers. They are often forced to work in hostile environments where they are underpaid, threatened, and sexually harassed. But when you don’t have options, when you are afraid, and when you have a family to support, you make tough choices.

Like so many of my peers, my mother pushed me to get an education and always took the time to celebrate my accomplishments. She knew I would be the one in my family to change the course of our future. So when I told her I was moving across the country for a new career in the tech sector, she proudly called my family in Brasil to tell them the news. Her daughter, a Latina born to a domestic worker, made it.

But I struggled to feel proud. I began attending networking events at your favorite tech companies, meeting other people in tech, and only felt more disconnected and guilty for being in this space. Guilt surfaced because I noticed how the caterers at events were invisible and how janitors were ignored. I would look into the eyes of women of color walking through tech headquarters with trash bags, the ones no one else noticed, and I saw my mother.

So when we talk about the lack of women of color in tech, it’s important that we center the women who protect tech’s productivity. Whether they provide childcare in your home or clean your office, treat them with kindness and honor their value. These are the women raising the very young people your company is trying to recruit. Yet, these are also the women making sacrifices so you don’t have to.

Follow Natasha Vianna on Twitter: twitter.com/natashavianna

This post previously appeared on Medium.

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Are Media Mergers Good for Latinos?

I know what you’re thinking.

“Hey, wouldn’t this country be better off if huge corporations called more of the shots?”

Yes, I’m nothing if not a shill for the benefits of global conglomerates having even more control over our society. I mean, when has big business ever screwed us over?

While you ponder that most rhetorical of questions, I will draw your attention to a recent study that looked at media company mergers.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race analyzed media company mergers after 2008, but they focused on the Comcast-NBCUniversal deal because it was the largest and well documented.

Now, remember that one of the many arguments that media groups make when merging is that their new tentacled beast of an organization will increase racial and ethnic diversity. These new companies will also make the internet free, cure cancer, and teach your dog to speak, but I digress.

So how did the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger do?

Well, the researchers found that “despite a pledge to increase Latino representation in programming, there was no significant increase in diversity behind the camera.”

The percentage of Latino directors went up a meager 0.8% after the merger. But the percentage of Hispanic producers, executive producers, and writers all actually decreased.

Yikes — that ain’t so good.

To be fair, the study also found that the percentage of Hispanic actors onscreen increased from 6.6% before the merger to 7.3% afterward. That’s good news, right? Well, even that mild improvement comes with a caveat, as deeper analysis shows that this increase “was accompanied by a significant rise in Latino stereotypes on NBCUniversal. Latinos who appeared as maids, janitors, [and] inmates” nearly tripled from 2008 to 2014.

Basically, more shows were hiring more Hispanics to appear as servants and thugs.

Yay for progress!

By the way, before the merger, Comcast and NBCUniversal had no Latino executives. But today, 4 out of 130 senior executives are Latino, accounting for 3.1% of upper management. However, only one (yes, one Latino executive in the whole company) holds a position outside of Telemundo.

Now, one can look at this study and link it to the current uproar that Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans are a combined 0-for-40 when it comes to recent Oscar nominations for acting.

When we do that, we must come to the conclusion that, as the researchers so diplomatically put it, “The agreements and promises made before the merger [aren’t] really panning out.”

But I’m sure things will be different when the next big media merger happens. Next time, all their promises will magically come true.

Yup.

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Here’s A Way To Google Black History Like Never Before

In recognition of Black History Month, the Google Cultural Institute is providing a unique virtual experience to better explore and pay tribute to black history.

On Monday, the online institute, which boasts an impressive collection of digital artwork contributed by museums, will release more than 4,000 new items that document different moments throughout the history of black America.

The new experience will come with over 80 exhibits and three expeditions — immersive virtual reality journeys to cultural hubs like the jazz scene in New Orleans. Street views will virtually transport users to culturally significant locations across the country like the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, and the Museum of African American History in New England.

Meanwhile, new digital artifacts include historically relevant items like the original manuscripts of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” and “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speeches, as well as photographs of King’s first handshake at the White House with President Lyndon B. Johnson on the day the Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965. 

Historical institutes like the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture contributed to the collection by digitizing portions of their archives. One exhibit pays tribute to masterminds like Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham, who played an important role in the journey of black dancers and helped to highlight their work in contemporary dance. 

Also among the artifacts is a letter Fredrick Douglass wrote to his slave master in 1857. “I love you but I hate slavery,” Douglass wrote, going on to explain why he felt the need to stay in touch with his former master even after he escaped. 

These new additions document critical moments of black history in interactive and innovative methods. They provide us with unprecedented new ways to help ensure these important moments and markers of history are not forgotten — not only in February, but year-round.

“Everyone should have access to history; everyone should be able to follow it, learn from it, explore it and revel in it,” Lonnie G. Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, told The Huffington Post.

Bunch said the better we’re able to understand our past, the better we’ll be able to work towards a brighter future. “This is something worth celebrating,” she said. 

Check out Google’s Cultural Institute to learn more. 

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