Diversity? That's for racists.


Andy Rutledge is a design professional.

By all accounts, he's quite a good one.

As of late, professionals of his stripe—and their counterparts in the world of technology—have been asked to pay more attention to diversity. In the grand scheme of things, it's a small request; women and minorities abound in tech and design, and ought to be represented as part of the community.

But this small request had made Andy angry. So angry, in fact, that's created a website, and a well-designed one to boot.

The website, called "conferencequotas.com," aims to mock the call for diversity. But what it does is reveal the extent to which Andy is aggrieved, resentful, and none too bright. Here's a sample from the site's question and answer section:

Are there still design and tech conferences that champion racism and misogyny?

Of course! Look around. Anytime you see a speaker lineup or panel that includes few or even no women and minorities, it is incontrovertible proof that the conference organizer and panel are all racists and misogynists. Those who go to such conferences are complicit in this obvious crime. Despicable people.

Andy doesn't like it when someone notes that conferences and panels are oddly homogeneous, despite the fact that design and tech are wide worlds filled with many different kinds of people. In fact, when you point that out to Andy, he assumes you're calling him a racist or a sexist, and that's not fair!

Of course, to note a disparity isn't to accuse someone of consciously perpetuating it. The point of calling attention to conferences is to ask organizers to think a little about their unconscious biases, and begin to see homogeneity as unusual.

Like I said, it's not a big request. Nonetheless, it makes Andy quite uncomfortable. Here's more from the site:

I’m a straight white male and I’m organizing a conf…

Omigod, shut up! You are disgusting and in no way qualified to organize a conference. You couldn’t possibly do it right. Your days of white privilege are over. It’s OUR time now. We are legion and it's high time everyone thinks like us. Diversity!

I said above that bias isn't necessarily conscious, but that was a little too generous. For every conference organizer who inadvertedly creates a line-up of speakers who are all white or all male, there are those who just don't think women and minorities are worth listening to. My guess is that Andy is the latter; his anger at being asked to consider other kinds of people seems rooted in the belief that white guys—like himself—provide all the diversity of thought you could ever need. He even says as much in the footer of the website, where he explains his website, which–he hopes—will give readers a "chuckle":

Diversity is what can happen when lots of different people choose to show up. Diversity is not about how people look, but about how people think. Diversity defined as applying to race or gender or sexual orientation condescendingly assumes these qualities entirely define the person in question, and constitutes a sexist, racist, homophobic attack on individual dignity and sovereignty. Tripe.

These idiots will do great harm to the tech and design professions unless intelligent, moral, and thoughtful people recognize their destructive effort for what it is and call them out publicly. I’m doing my part here.

See? Only a fool thinks diversity has something to do with your race, gender, or sexuality! Only an idiot thinks your identity has something to do with how you experience the world, and only a close-minded bigot would assume that those experiences affect the way you approach your work. It is ludicrous to think that someone's looks—the color of the skin, the shape of their body—could affect how they think. It's the content of your mind that matters, not the melanin in your skin! Malcolm X could have been white!

Diversity? That's for racists. You might think with more black people or more women, we might get more and different ideas about tech and design. Well, you're wrong. Andy Rutledge stands for a world where you'll get all the ideas you'd ever need if you let people show up. And if it's only white guys? Then obviously, they're the ones with the best ideas.

I guess you could say otherwise, but then you'd be Hitler.