tech inclusion Tag

Black is Beautiful 2020 – Arlan Hamilton

I first came across Arlan in 2017 through Tech Crunch. I was listening to talks about tech to understand how it was changing my hometown rapidly. That’s when I heard Arlan speak about putting other Black women, people of color, women, and queer folks on. Originally from Texas Arlan was a big music fan who became tour manager and production coordinator for bands. She also was curious about tech and did enough research to earn a Masters Degree in venture capitalist funding. Once she saw the opportunities venture capitalists were missing and got to work to establish Backstage Capital.

Fast forward four years and they’ve invested in over 100 companies! All of them are run by Black women, people of color, queer folks, and women. Why? The big tech companies we use daily started as tiny companies that needed seed money to grow. but who gets that money is incredibly unequal. Surprise, surprise! Actually over 90% of the large Venture Capitalist are white men which unfortunately means the folks Backstage now funds were overlooked and ignored. Arlan secured over 30 million in funding to seed these people to kickstart their small companies who could one day be the next big thing. And she is one of the only queer Black women ever to do this.

She is now in demand as a public speaker, she created several podcasts, has graced many magazines and news outlets and created a company that is truly giving folks a shot who were previously being blocked. Some of the companies her company (which is now a big team) has invested in are travel, financial tech, music instrumentation, self care, facial recognition, renewable energy, and healthcare. Her company started in Silicon Valley and has grown to include programs in the Bay Area, LA, Detroit, Philadelphia, and London. If you get the emails from Backstage they also include monthly highlights of successful new companies, jobs, tips, accelerator, and all kinds of resources to get your business idea going.

And she’s only 39! Big ups for being smart and betting on people who were previously ignored Arlan.

Sources: Tech Crunch, Fast Company, Backstage Capital, Medium

Wanna see more?
Jessica Matthews – Uncharted Play
Kimberly Bryant – Black Girls Code

Hack the Hood Illustrations

Recently, I got the chance to work with Oakland based organization Hack the Hood (HTH) on multiple illustrations for an internal document showcasing how they help young empower, attract, and retain youth of color in tech companies. Who is HTH? A dope tech based organization run by Susan Mernit and Zakiya Harris in Oakland California. I am extremely honored to work with them and so happy to help contribute to their success and the amazing work they do.

With the help of organizers, techies, teachers, activists, and students HTH is bringing young people of color into the tech world where their talent and presence are severely underrepresented. It was just three or four years ago that folks like Tracy Chou helped to get huge tech companies to release their diversity numbers. And when they did the picture that most poc already know became more clear; the world of tech is primarily white and male. News outlets like Wired, NY Times, The Guardian, Time, Fortune, Pbs, NPR, and more have written about the problem which not only ignores poc, but marginalizes women, and privileges white males. The bigger companies have vowed to do better, but their hiring, funding, and employee retention practices are not changing fast enough.

Organizations like Hack the Hood, Black Girls Code, Code 2040, Qeyno Labs, The Hidden Genius Project, Game heads, and a few others stopped waiting and started local and national programs to bring in the young people that these companies claimed did not exist or that they could not find. HTH is making paths to employment, wealth, upward mobility, innovation, and power that I wish I had as a kid. I’m emotionally ecstatic that they exist!

These are just some of the many illustrations I completed for HTH, but what they are essentially doing is demonstrating why tech companies must approach finding, working, with, and keeping youth of color differently. Inherent in this is the fact that youth of color come to the table with different cultural practices, knowledge, challenges, and values. Want to get involved? I thought so! GO HERE.

And please watch videos about their young scholars on youtube!

BIG thank you to Susan, Zakiya for bringing me in.

Who is She? 31 – Tracy Chou

Tracy Chou is an advocate for diversity in the Tech industry. A Bay Area native, she was born in 1987, and attended Stanford. She has written articles, spoke at conferences, and confronted the issue at large companies as an insider. Tracy’s name kept coming up on my feed over the past few years just researching more about the field of technical and non-technical founders. She is a part of a much larger voice of women, people of color, queer folks, and white ally’s working to bring in more voices into these companies that are affecting and changing the world. Tracy grew up in Silicon Valley, and actually has two parents who were involved in engineering. She started as an intern like many do in the tech world at companies like Google, and went on to work for some of them who were start ups such as Facebook, Pinterest, Rocket Fuel, and Quora. While working she became aware of the glaring fact that these spaces were mostly white and mostly male. So, like many others who have spoke out or founded their own initiatives she started to investigate. She wrote some pieces on medium and began collecting data about how many women were working at tech companies in technical positions. This was four years ago. Companies were shy to release the stats because they knew it would reflect a huge problem. Companies like Google, Intel, Apple, and more started to show what their staff’s diversity or lack there of looked like. And sadly, things are not changing fast enough. Props to Tracy for being an advocate for bringing more women, queer folks, and people of color into the fields. Not only that, but trying to encourage young girls to get into tech and putting up with the backlash from people who may never “get it”. Tracy has been interviewed or featured on sites or in spaces such as Tech Crunch, Vogue, Fast Co, Wired, CNN, Mother Jones, Today, and many more. She now works in New York and is continuing to code and to fight. Check out her articles “Where are the numbers” and “Why I care about diversity in tech”.

Sources: We Code Harvard, Medium, Mercedes Benz, Twitter,

You can purchase this piece, email me at $40 (includes shipping) , i will donate a portion to Tracy’s next mission to promote diversity.