An online discussion forum about African Americans in the IT industry caught my eye today, and I was intrigued by the comments posted by one black IT professional in particular. While too many people in minority communities shy away from openly discussing their experiences with racism, this man had the courage to write about his encounters with racism displayed by foreign IT workers.
The writer was responding to a question posed by Wayne Hicks, executive director of the BDPA (formerly Black Data Processing Associates) Education and Technology Foundation: What is your assessment of the demand for African Americans in the IT industry? Here is his response, in its entirety:
I say the issue is very important, but as most racially charged subjects in our country, extremely awkward to address. Particularly in light of the abundance of IT workers from other lands that dominate the IT fields, this is a major industry issue. Racism is now being more acceptably practiced through them, when they are given the opportunities.
When I was in graduate school recently, the classes were disproportionately students from foreign backgrounds and quite often I was the lone African-American student in my classes. There was bias exhibited towards me by most of my classmates that has carried on into my experiences in the workforce afterwards as well. I have nearly 30 years of industry experience.
Not to overgeneralize because of course there are exceptions, but the bias from foreign IT people can be much more severe than from American born and all are consistent in discriminating or questioning your skills, no matter how credentialed you are. I find this stifling on many levels and more than frustrating. Even now in expressing it, I feel I must be careful in not appearing to be over reacting. But it is frustrating when people can come into your country and discriminate against you and the general society is oblivious to it.
I'm very eager to hear the views and experiences of other IT professionals on this topic. Do foreign IT workers indeed discriminate against minorities here? And is our society in general indeed oblivious to it?