Category Archives: Voices

Voices: On Adria Richards

Former SendGrid “developer evangelist” Adria Richards. Image via butyoureagirl.com

Let’s begin with Adria Richards’ own words.

Have you ever had a group of men sitting right behind you making joke that caused you to feel uncomfortable? Well, that just happened this week but instead of shrinking down in my seat, I did something about it an here’s my story …

Yesterday, I publicly called out a group of guys at the PyCon conference who were not being respectful to the community.

For those of you visiting from Hacker News from the tweet and from this post, thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the context.

Richards tweeted a picture of two men near her who joked about “dongles” and “forking repos” during the conference. She informed conference staff, she said, after seeing a picture of a girl who took part in a coding workshop during the event made her worry about the environment created by the “forking” jokes.

The situation degenerated when one of the two men–neither of whom she identified–was fired by his company. As TechCrunch reported, the unnamed employee apologized for the original joke on Hacker News, but also noted Richards’ platform:

Adria has an audience and is a successful person of the media. Just check out her web page linked in her Twitter account, her hard work and social activism speaks for itself. With that great power and reach comes responsibility. As a result of the picture she took I was let go from my job today. Which sucks because I have 3 kids and I really liked that job.

Shortly thereafter, Richards was the target of a string of personal and professional attacks, including the posting of her personal information online, death threats, slurs, accusations of “misandry”, and even attacks against her employer, Sendgrid.

Later, Sendgrid CEO Jim Franklin announced that the company had terminated Richards, saying, “her actions have strongly divided the same community she was supposed to unite.” The original incident was glossed over, and the attacks against both the company and its own employee were not addressed at all. Franklin closed comments on his post on Monday.

The conference also altered its code of conduct to forbid public shaming, requiring future disputes to be reported to PyCon staff. There is no mention, however, of what happens if there are conflicting accounts of an incident or if convention staff disagrees with a person’s assessment of something as offensive or triggering. Is what happens at PyCon supposed to stay at PyCon from now on?

Over at Shakesville, Melissa McEwan also contributed to the conversation on Twitter, starting the #IAskedPolitely tag, where several people shared their stories of being told they were “too sensitive,”  to get over it. To deal. Stories of being silenced.

Meanwhile, Colorlines reported that Richards’ firing might not hold up in the legal arena, as the argument can be made that she was basically sacked for acting as a whistleblower. But those accounts and this fact are both seemingly lost on the increasingly outraged wave of tech enthusiasts who have seemingly seized the moment to “defend their territory.” Below we’ll hear from some people on the other side of the debate.

TRIGGER WARNING for some of the entries under the cut.

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Voices: RIP Trayvon Martin, One Year Later

It rained in Sanford, Fla., on Tuesday, just like it did exactly a year ago when Trayvon Martin died there.

The shooting death of an unarmed black 17-year-old at the hands of a part-white, part-Peruvian neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community catapulted the central Florida city into headlines around the world and launched heated discussions about race and guns and Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

George Zimmerman, 29, faces second-degree murder charges in the case after invoking that law, which allows the use of deadly force in some life-threatening situations.

Despite the damp conditions Tuesday, a crowd amassed outside Sanford’s Goldsboro Welcome Center and the Goldsboro Historical Museum by midmorning. Museum curator Francis Oliver said she opened the welcome center a few hours early to accommodate the score or so of people who gathered to get a glimpse at the items memorializing the slain teenager.

There are crosses and flags, dolls and pictures of the teenager, Oliver said of the items showcased at the permanent memorial made from the items that initially cropped up outside the Retreat at Twin Lakes, the gated community where Trayvon was fatally shot.
- Marisa Gerber, Los Angeles Times

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Voices: The Django Debate

Image via AVClub.com

Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network called for a national boycott Tuesday of action figures based on the controversial and blood-soaked slavery revenge flick Django Unchained. A 10-doll assortment of characters from the film was going for $299 on Amazon Tuesday.

“Selling this doll is highly offensive to our ancestors and the African American community,” Rev. K.W. Tulloss, NAC’s president in Los Angeles, told the Daily News. “The movie is for adults, but these are action figures that appeal to children. We don’t want other individuals to utilize them for their entertainment, to make a mockery of slavery.”

New York Daily News

First of all, Django Unchained could’ve gone horribly wrong. However brilliant a director, Quentin Tarantino is famous amongst people of color for fetishizing African-American culture, and his liberal use of the N-word in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown still rankles folks 15 years after the fact. Tarantino injecting a Blaxploitation-style baadassss freed slave into his vision of the antebellum South could’ve been disastrous. The director’s recent comments about Roots, which he has described as “inauthentic” also raised the eyebrows of many filmgoers who were already nervous about what his slavery narrative would bring. Any crass, gratuitous depiction of Whites raping actress Kerry Washington in a popcorn movie, and “Django Unchained” would’ve been a wrap.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, the Oscar-winning Jamie Foxx plays Django as a gunslinging superhero, the fastest gun in the West.

–Miles Marshall Lewis, Ebony

“When you look at Roots, nothing about it rings true in the storytelling, and none of the performances ring true for me either,” says Tarantino. “I didn’t see it when it first came on, but when I did I couldn’t get over how oversimplified they made everything about that time. It didn’t move me because it claimed to be something it wasn’t.”

While many white directors might shy away from criticizing such an iconic symbol of African-American culture, ­Tarantino doesn’t hold back. He’s confident in his knowledge of a time and subject most people know little about and would rather forget. He was also savvy enough to bring Hudlin on board. “There were times when I’d be filming a scene and really getting into it and Reg would just say, ‘Hey is this the story you wanted to tell?’ He’d bring the focus back if I got too carried away.”

–Alison Samuels, The Daily Beast

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Voices: Tragedy in Kansas City

Kasandra Perkins, 22, was killed by her boyfriend, football player Jovan Belcher, Saturday.

Of course Belcher is the headliner in this tragedy, because he apparently thanked the people trying to talk him out of killing himself for all they had done for him. Then he was gone, day before a game, outside Arrowhead Stadium, dead at 25.

But Jovan Belcher had a chance for it all to end differently, at least for him, no matter what brought him to this moment outside Arrowhead Stadium. That is why the real tragedy here — the real victim — is a young woman named Kasandra Michelle Perkins, whom Belcher shot and killed before he ever parked his car at the Chiefs’ practice facility and put that gun to his head.

She was 22 and the mother of Belcher’s child, a child who is 3 months old, a child who will grow up in a world without parents. At about 10 minutes to 8, according to Kansas City police, Jovan Belcher put a gun on the mother of his child in a house on the 5400 block of Chrysler Ave. in Kansas City and started shooting and kept shooting. You want to mourn somebody? Start with her.

“Welcome to our world,” a former New York City police detective I know said on Saturday about the shootings in Kansas City. “This time it just happened to be the National Football League.”
- Mike Lupica, New York Daily News

KCTV5

It should come as no surprise that Crennel, Chiefs players, Pioli, owner Clark Hunt and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell quickly agreed not to delay Sunday’s football congregation at Arrowhead Stadium.

Football is our God. Its exaggerated value in our society has never been more evident than Saturday morning in my adopted hometown. There’s just no way this game should be played.

Twenty-eight hours after witnessing one of his starting linebackers take his life, Crennel will stand on the sideline as young men play a violent game. Twenty-eight hours after one of their best friends killed the mother of his child and himself, Chiefs players will take the field and play a violent game.

Football is a game of emotion. Football is a game in which the coaches and players preach about treating each other as family.

How can they play Sunday? Why should they?
- Jason Whitlock, Fox News

“I definitely agree with the decision to play today,” wide receiver Dexter McCluster said. “This is the game we love. This is the game Jovan loved. This is the game fans love, so why not go out here and do something that we love to do?”

For others, the alternative was worse.

“The least-worst option was to play the game,” center Ryan Lilja said. “Suffering a tragedy like that, maybe the best thing was to be together and do what we do — and that’s what we do, we play football.”

In light of a 27-21 win and perhaps the Chiefs’ finest performance of the season, it’s hard to argue against going ahead with the game, which several players hoped might speed up the healing process.

- Tod Palmer, The Kansas City Star

According to medical studies, around 600 murder-suicide events take place each year in the United States, resulting in 1,000 to 1,500 deaths. Most of those don’t generate this much attention. As far as anyone can remember, this is the first such incident involving an athlete in America’s most popular sport.

Three months ago, a man shot a woman and then killed himself in the Kauffman Stadium parking lot a few hours before a Royals game. The victim in that shooting had two children, a school-aged son and a grown daughter. She spent weeks in a hospital; her spleen was removed, among other operations, but she has survived.

That story came and went faster than this one will, and if we’re smart we’ll gain some understanding about the problem. Maybe we’ll remember that domestic abuse is still a major problem in America.
- Sam Mellinger, The Kansas City Star

Voices: Russell Means (1939-2012)


- Russell Means, May 2011.

One thing about Russell I always remembered, and I think someone else once said it, you may have loved him, or you may have disliked him, but you couldn’t ignore him. I’ll always remember when an elder said one time, I was at a ceremony and I asked what this half shaped moon circle on the ground meant, and he said it was a symbol of the circle of life, the never ending of the circle of life, and I said there is only half a circle, and he said the other half was unseen, it is the spirit world. For Indian people it never ends, we don’t have a linear existence, so I know I will see Russell again, and I take comfort in that thought. For men like Russell Means don’t come along in a lifetime very often. He was truly an inspiration for all of us younger guys at the time.
- Leonald Peltier, via Aboriginal Press News

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Voices: Taking Back ‘Columbus Day’

For the United States of America to have a federal holiday in honor of that particular moment of “discovery” in 1492, is unconscionable on many levels.

To celebrate that moment is to celebrate the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain.

To cheer about Columbus is to cheer the coming of the first European slave trader to the Americas.

To praise what happened in 1492 is to implicitly praise the very real and very terrible results of that contact between peoples.
- Jessica Luther, Speaker’s Corner in the ATX

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Voices: RIP Chavela Vargas (1919-2012)

By Arturo R. García

They came to lay Chavela Vargas to rest at Plaza Garibaldi Monday night. And that was just in person. When word spread of the Costa Rican native’s passing this past Sunday, they mourned not only in her adopted home country of Mexico, but in Spain, in Cuba, and anywhere they still feel ranchera music.

In nearly a century, she was an LGBT trailblazer; a gender role provocateur; a friend to artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and a muse to others like Federico García Lorca and Pedro Almodóvar; she performed at Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding and at Carnegie Hall; she recorded 80 albums and came out at the age of 81. She beat addiction to become an institution. And they raised their glasses to her Monday night.

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Voices: R.I.P. Rodney King (1965-2012)

Courtesy: Melville House Books

Rodney King never set out to be a James Meredith or Rosa Parks.

He was a drunk, unemployed construction worker on parole when he careened into the city’s consciousness in a white Hyundai early one Sunday morning in 1991.

While he was enduring the videotaped blows that would reverberate around the world, he wanted to escape to a nearby park where his father used to take him. He simply wanted to survive.

He did survive, but the brutal beating transformed the troubled man into an icon of the civil rights movement. His very name became a symbol of police abuse and racial tensions, of one of the worst urban riots in American history.
- Joe Mozingo and Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times

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