"Post-Racial My Friggin' Ass" or, "My Authentic Whiteness Is Questioned"


Not that many years ago, I worked for a large tech contracting company that I can’t name, called Accenture.  It was a horrific experience on so many levels that I can’t possibly catalogue them here, but what’s a bit scary is, the Indian guys on H1B’s said it was a vastly better company for them to work for than the previous firm that lost the job to Accenture, because the previous employer had made it clear, that if they didn’t want to work long overtime without pay they would yank their visa and see them deported ex post haste.

At this particular job, a giant mult-million dollar debacle on both sides of the contract, there were large swarms of kids fresh out of college that were wandering around with scared looks on their faces, noone mentoring them, noone offering guidance; hell, they were lucky if they had a task more concrete than “write some requirements for a system to collect personal information” or “Create a database schema for information about people”.  Or, my favorite,

Boss: “Figure out why this software isn’t working right” 
Programmer: “What is it supposed to do?” 
Boss: “I don’t know, figure that out from the current system.”
Programmer:  “But if it’s not working right, how am I supposed to know what it’s supposed to do?”
Boss: “I don’t have time for this, you’re supposed to be smart, just do it!”

There was one freshout (as us grizzled veterans called them) working on Business Analysis, writing requirement documents, fielding questions from customers.  He seemed bright enough to me.

So I was stunned, and disgusted¸when a friend of mine passed along the supposition that he’d gotten hired as part of some “government program”.  I just stared at her, and finally asked her “what makes you think he didn’t get the job the same way you did, by going to college, working hard, getting good grades, and being smart?”

Because this kid was black, from the East Side, a hometown black muslim, all the white kids fresh out of college had assumed he’d somehow wangled a free ride.  Now, there WAS a super dumb freshout that I can only assume cheated his way to his degree or forged his resume, because you cannot graduate from an accredited university with a degree in Computer Science and not even know how to declare a variable.  But this kid was not that kid, and I didn’t assume the other kid had cheated because he happened to be black, I assumed he had cheated because he was dumb as a post, and on top of that, lazy.  This other kid was really friendly.  He shared his tea with me for Christ sake.  Probably because I was the only American working there that didn’t treat him like he was a foreigner.  If recollection serves, he was one of only four black people in a job with hundreds of employees, and when the only other guy is a fool, and the other two are French-speaking Nigerians who like to hang out speaking French, you have to talk to someone.  Maybe having a lot of grafts on my family tree has made me more accessible, mabe being the queer outcast all of my childhood has made me more sympathetic to outsiders, or maybe I’m just an all around saint.

In fact, one of the guys I worked with there and liked, a friendly red-headed guy, actually asked me in private if I was white.  I kind of stared, mouth open, and then laughed.  A little hysterically, I have to admit.  This is the deep south.  People asking you that is usually Not Good.  Turns out like me, he was just confused.  He said, “well, I thought so, but I mean, you’re kind of… down on white people is all.” He wasn’t being ugly, but Jesus!  Hating haters isn’t the same as being a “race traitor” is it??

I tell you man, People suck.