Practice what you preach; it’s a saying more difficult to act on than to follow, especially for The New York Times when it comes to diversity. On December 17, The New York Times own public editor, Liz Spayd, called out The Times for not only its lack of diversity, but for advocating for diversity, yet not taking a stronger and quicker action to diverse in-house.
Spayd breaks down the editorial staff by department, claiming that The Times has “20-plus reporters who cover the presidential campaign for The New York Times were black.” (The dagger was when she compared it to president-elect’s Donald Trump’s cabinet.) She continues to mention that Metro has only three Latinos among its 42 reporters” and “Sports has one Asian man, two Hispanics and no African-Americans among its 21 reporters.”
What’s troubling, to me, are outlets who build their platform off the voices and talents of people of color but don’t hire us. Money is being made off our culture without our consent or input, and most of the time it’s geared towards people of color because it seems as if we are the ones who spark and fuel the conversation, offline and online, when it comes to a range of topics – especially social justice, race, culture, music, style, sports, and more. (So, everything.)
One of the reasons the announcement of Vine shutting down was so disappointing (they recently announced will be “transitioning the Vine app to a pared-down Vine Camera”) was because several people of color, especially young, black people, used the platform to display their charisma and creativity. Many used the platform to break through as artists, such as Tokyo Vanity (“That’s My Best Friend”) and FiNATTiCZ (“Don’t Drop That Thun Thun”). Sadly, as FADER perfectly reported, young, black creatives used Vine to spotlight their culture, through activism or creativity, but never saw any profit for going viral. It was a missed opportunity by Vine to not offer incentives to young creatives who broke the internet – whether it be through payment, endorsements, mentorship, or further exposure.
Spayd alludes to the irrational balance in their coverage, which is far more based off the style and talents of people of color, rather than the those covering these topics actually being people of color, specifically black people. “Sports has one Asian man, two Hispanics and no African-Americans among its 21 reporters, yet blacks are plentiful among the teams they cover and the audience they serve. In the Styles section, every writer is white, while American culture is anything but.”
More and more black and brown people call bullshit when white people appropriate and bank off our cultures, along with when an individual or business suspiciously claims diversity. On December 14, Dropbox Inc. tweeted a photo of their “founder with some of our senior female executives” accompanied with the caption, “Diversity at Dropbox.” The photo featured employees who were very fair skinned. Not much diversity if you ask me as well as those on Twitter who trolled the cloud storage company for its skewed, or not clear, claim.
Hours after the tweet was posted, according to Inc., Dropbox released a statement that the diversity they mentioned was more so depending on gender, not race. “The company clarified that the picture includes Dropbox Co-founder Arash Ferdowsi who is Iranian, Head of People Arden Hoffman who is lesbian and Lin-Hua Wu, a vice president of communications, who is Asian,” Inc. reported.
“This photo was meant to highlight the increase of women in senior leadership roles,” Dropbox said in a statement. “We realize it doesn’t fully represent the diverse workforce we strive for at Dropbox. Improving our diversity continues to be one of our top priorities in 2017 and beyond.” (Dropbox was put on blast a year ago when a former female African American employee put them on blast for their lack of diversity.)
Studies show that there has been some progress, albeit minor. Until people of color are actually telling our own stories, there’s plenty more work to do and much higher decibels for our voices to reach.