Now I know why so many intelligent, considered and honest folks told me to not blog about race.
Over the last 24 hours I've been savaged by folks calling me clueless, "the problem" and a racist.
I've also had 100+ emails from minorities telling me I was 100% right and that they were happy I had joined the discussion.
In other words, the feedback has been polarized -- but not along racial lines. Some of the most brutal commentary has come from white males in the media business. Some of the most supportive emails have come from African Americans, Latinos, Indians and Asian-Americans.
Man did I try to write a balanced piece. I really did. I've never had so many folks tell me I got it so right and so wrong at the same time.
My friend Anil Dash pointed out to me why some responded so passionately: my experience and views do not give enough focus to the fact that many people have actually experienced horrible bias in their lives.
He says I'm denying folks their own experience.
I never intended to deny anyone's individual experience. Sorry if that's the way it came across.
My main premise is that we're shifting from a world in which race drives people's behavior to a "post-race" world. Not that there is no racism or that we have reached the post-race world.
I also was super clear that I was only speaking only about the tech industry and tech blogs -- not all of society. I'm an expert on the former and a neophyte on the later.
I never claimed we had reached the post-race world, although many folks on Twitter just read the headlines and other tweet and claimed I said we live in a post-race world. That is obviously a delusional thing to say -- which is why I didn't say it.
Of course, none of that matters to the detractors. What matters is a white guy commented on race, and worse yet a self-made white guy commented on race. I'm clueless and have nothing to add because of the color of my skin and the fact that I quoted Kanye (how dare you!).
I maintain my position that the tech industry is a wonderful meritocracy. A pure, wonderful oasis where if you make a product grow, you will succeed.
And no one can stop you from building your product!
VCs and angel investors are the most driven I've met in my life. What are they driven by? Growth, product, winning and money -- which are all very much aligned in our society.
Most of the investors I've met over the years are already rich. Making more money doesn't drive them -- winning does. It's really that simple. They're addicted to winning. Getting a bigger plane is great, but it's secondary. Really.
Oh yeah, almost of the investors I've met in tech are really good people who believe in a more democratic, fair and empowered world. And they work toward that.
Folks have talked about "pattern matching," a system where investors look for variables that lead to success. What I've been told in private is not what you would expect. Not only are some investors *not* looking for fancy college degrees, they're actually looking for folks who have dropped out! Additionally, I've heard more than a few VCs say they look for people who have had to struggle, especially those with immigrant parents.
If our industry has a bias, it's actually toward rebels who quit school and come from nothing -- not the rich kids coming out of Harvard's MBA program (at least not any more!).
Moving on to the tech media, let’s examine perhaps the best publisher of our time, Nick Denton.
You'll quickly find he is driven by one thing and one thing only: growth.
He wants pageviews so badly that he built a commenting and compensation system based on it! Do you think Denton cares about the race of the commenters on Gawker? Even if Denton has some unconscious bias, do you think it trumps his desire to beat (or catch up to) Buzzfeed, Engadget, The Verge and TMZ?
If the tech industry is run by white males, why are the editors (and in some cases founders) of our top four publications -- All Things Digital, TechCrunch, GigaOm and PandoDaily -- run by three females and an Indian? Oh yeah, Gizmodo and Engadget were both founded by Latinos.
You see, I've seen so many folks make it in the past two decades in the technology industry that I'm biased toward the hustle -- not the walls.
Doesn't mean the walls don't exist, but with a positive dialogue I think we'll get to the point where we knock them all down. Seriously, I believe that. I believe we will make it to the post-race world in our lifetime.
I'm focused on the post-race world we are all fighting toward -- and that we're actually succeeding at building!
The technology industry isn't perfect, but it is a shining example of what some other industries should aspire to: a brutal meritocracy.