3 min read

Shut up and dribble.


Last week's newsletter sought sanctuary and yesterday brought wonderful news for Zora's House. If you know a woman of color seeking community, check out their membership campaign.

Shut up and dribble.

Basecamp broke open.

“We’re asking everyone, including Jason and me, to refrain from using our company Basecamp or HEY to discuss societal politics at work effective immediately.”

Flattening complexity is not a practice we should celebrate at companies responsible for stewarding innovation. As a technologist, I’ve long respected and admired Basecamp and its leaders for their public leadership. And as a Black woman technologist, I am also unsurprised the company publicly celebrated for its healthy culture was also home to toxic, racist and dysfunctional dynamics, sparking an exodus. You see how that works? Holding multiple thoughts at the same time? It is a thing! Respecting and holding humanity and all of its complexity is not a practice that can be contained on the margins of a working identity.

As Bryan Stevenson says, “There is power in identity. When we create the right kind of identity we can say things to the world around us that they don’t actually believe… We can get them to do things that they don’t think they can do.” We don’t strip ourselves of our identities at the workplace. It is something I know tech companies, pouring millions into research on creating emotional safety at work, even know to be true. But while recruiters sell the dream for you to bring your whole self to work, what tech companies really wish for is for you to make work your whole self.

What tech companies are really reckoning with now is not identity, it is power.

All platforms are power.

For more than a decade, one of the many hats I’ve worn is working closely with professional athletes to help them leverage their platforms for social change issues they care about and supporting efforts to make their respective sports accessible to more people. I've learned so much about the wild disparities international athletes navigate compared to many well-paid American stars. But the Olympics is a global stage where there would be many mics and many opportunities to tell stories. They were hoping to use their moment on the global stage to change the world and instead the pandemic changed the world for us.

When the Olympics were postponed last summer, I got used to fielding calls from media planners upset about ad buys or brands angry about something. But I could never get used to speaking to heartbroken athletes, grieving so much, rearranging their goals and life plans. Some were lucky and fine with waiting the year– but others did not have time on their side to wait and retirement was decided for them.

"This is my platform. Who will hear my truth now?"

All platforms are power. Do you choose to tell the truth about the world on yours? Last month I interviewed my friend Charlene Carruthers, author of Unapologetic: A Black, Queer and Feminist Mandate for Feminist Movements, at Rights x Tech's latest forum for a conversation about radical innovation and power. She said something in our conversation that I wish more people who struggle with embracing complexity would take a moment to absorb: "There is power in the intersections but that is also where the suffering is happening, it is where pain is happening... we want to go to the intersections because that is where people are whole people."

This is my first personal newsletter distributed via Ghost. I knew I had to migrate my mighty list from Mailchimp after I read worker accounts on conditions at the company (archive.org link to avoid paywall). Substack, increasingly an increasingly dangerous platform for men to monetize their bad, harmful opinions, was also not in the cards for me. I initially thought I’d take my list to ActionNetwork but I reconsidered that for other reasons. I finally landed on Ghost. It is open source and run by a nonprofit. Far from perfect, but nothing is.

No platform is perfect and this is not about being perfect— it’s about being better.

Everyone has power.

What you do with that power tells a story.

What story does your power tell about you?