A couple of years ago, I met the guys from thedailywtf.com and as the only black guy at the table, I was asked my opinion on what should be done to get more "diversity" in technology. My answer was "Nothing. The last thing we need is to have more people getting into this field if they don't have a love of it."
There are two problems, as I see it.
First, there is the racism that exists in western society.
Second, there is the anti-intellectual facet to some parts of African American culture.
Racism is complex. It takes many forms, on one hand you have the outwardly hostile racist who just plain doesn't like people of #Race and then you have what Michael Gerson dubbed "the soft bigotry of low expectations". That is manifest where many people, who think they're progressive, automatically assume that a black person is less skilled than his white or asian counterpart. I have a very Anglicized name. It's not Demetrialis or some other ridiculous nonsense like that. When people get emails from me and speak to me on the telephone, they almost never assume that I'm black.
Occasionally, when I meet someone who has only seen my resumè or spoken to me of the phone, I can see the surprise in their face when instead of a skinny white guy, they find a 6'2" 250 pound black dude.
In September, there was a teacher strike at the local district and I addressed the school board. You wouldn't believe how many left-handed compliments I received about "how well spoken" I am.
The anti-intellectualism present in African American culture is extremely destructive. I have experienced it. In large parts of the US, any black kid who is smart, who achieves academically, who has college and career aspirations is derided as acting white. I have been accused of "thinking that[I'm} white". Fortunately, I had strong parents who gave me a much different message at home and reinforced it constantly.
I traveled in different circles, I had many groups of friends, all of them distinct. Of the core group of black guys with whom I hung out when we were growing up, two of us have never been to prison; three have and one is still there. Of the white guys who were my friends, none of them have been to prison.
We all grew up in the same area. At most, five miles separated all of the various neighborhoods. There's a reason why there's such a high rate of incarceration among the black guys. There's a reason why most of the white guys went to college. We were all middle-class. None of us had particularly wealthy parents. The white guys usually heard the message that education or training was important. It was necessary to go out there and be the best person you can be. A lot of the black guys, not all and certainly not most but a lot, were primarily concerned with getting money and bitches. Fast money and lots of bitches.
These things have consequences that last far beyond childhood.
I have a M.S. degree and I work a good job in tech. I'm the only black guy in my department. I was the only black guy in my last department and the one before that(I replaced the previous only black guy when he went back to school for his Doctorate) and the one before that and the one before that. It's not the industry's fault. It's mostly not the fault of racism. It's mostly the fault of a society, subculture and families that don't impress upon young black people, the value of education.
I love tech. I love the people. I love spending my entire day surrounded by geeks.
I find far more camaraderie in that than I do among people who share none of my interests or life experiences beyond being black.