Listen Up, White Guys!

We Need to Stop Learning From Other White Guys

And yes, I have a beard. Shocker!

Not only that, I’m cisgendered — the surprises keep coming.

You might be thinking:

“Great, another entitled white guy who feels compelled to share his ‘unique’ perspective on things.”

The thing is, I tend to think about my identity a lot.

Believe me, I don’t want a cookie or a prize — I just want to point out that this seems to be pretty unusual.

Most of us straight white guys don’t give our gender, race, or sexual orientation a second thought.

According to the media, we look just like everyone else.

Most of the people we see in movies or on TV are successful white men who have built companies, written books, and changed the world. They don’t openly address their identities, so why should we?

I’ll tell you why.

As someone who reads every day, I came to a pretty shitty realization:

Most of the books I read are written by other white guys.

This wasn’t a conscious decision.

Like most of us, I wouldn’t claim to be sexist, racist, or any other -ist (except for a recovering perfectionist).

And therein lies the issue; these aren’t conscious biases.

I don’t browse books on Amazon, thinking to myself, “Hmm…let’s get rid of all all books written by women, people of color, or members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

When it comes to nonfiction, I simply choose books that help me solve a specific problem, like:

  • How do I approach the publishing process as a first-time author?
  • How do I turn freelance clients into customers and users?
  • How do I continue to create my own career?

Unfortunately, this is a slippery slope because, most of these questions get answered by white guys.

The issue here isn’t lack of accomplishment. There are plenty of minority members who have reached massive levels of success.

The real problem is lack of representation.

Yes, these people have found success, but they aren’t finding book deals, interviews, and write-ups.

At the end of the day, they aren’t getting the exposure they deserve.

Take Arlan Hamilton, for example.

Arlan is Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a fund that is investing in companies started by founders who are of color, women, and/or LGBTQ.

She is also a black women who just happens to be gay.

I had no idea who she was until I learned about her on the newest season of StartUp, a podcast by Gimlet Media. In a few short episodes, I discovered more about her background, her personal mission, and most importantly, her perspective than I ever would have otherwise. And she is addressing something I’m actively interested in: funding for startups.

And what about Tracy Chou?

Tracy is an entrepreneur and software engineer and she is doing what many successful white men aren’t: advocating for diversity in tech.

Thanks to Twitter and her work with Project Include, I have learned more from Tracy about the lack of diversity and inclusion in Silicon Valley than any white guy I follow.

Sure, she has been featured in several magazines including MIT Technology Review and Wired, but if you ask me, she deserved so much more recognition for her work.

In order to learn from people with different identities, experiences, and perspectives, us white guys need to do our homework and dig a little deeper when it comes to the books we read and the role models we look up to.

Not sure where to start?

Here’s a list of media outlets, organizations, and people who are doing their part:

These suggestions include podcasts, blogs, non-profits, media companies, and individuals that are promoting diversity and inclusion throughout all industries.

The sooner we can add to this list, the quicker we’ll realize that there are so many people out there doing amazing things worth sharing.

But hey, you don’t have to listen to me.

I’m just another white guy.

Did I forget anyone on the above list? Please let me know in the comments or on Twitter and I’d be happy to update it!

William Frazier is a designer, writer, and founder who blogs about making ideas happen at The Imperfectionist. You can find him on Twitter.

I’m a designer and writer who enjoys making people smile.

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