I am thrilled and honored to be included in the Techies Project, which launched this week as a way to showcase some of the diversity that does exist in the tech industry. There’s not nearly as many of us as there should be, but we are definitely here. And we are staying, and growing. Projects like this can help us know that we’re not alone in this.
For more about the project and the woman behind it, Helena Price, read here:
And there’s been lots of press:
The portrait of me above is the one Helena did for the project (she’s a great photographer!). There’s also a somewhat edited transcript of two hours of conversation we had about my history in life and in tech – I really need to edit that down more, it’s a lot of words! But you should read all the other stories on the site – there are some truly amazing people in tech, far outside the mental picture we all have of tech as being all young white dudes in hoodies.
Born in the American South
I was born – as we all are – into a world of assumptions about race, nationality, and privilege. My particular life experience was unusual, for a white American.
I was born in New Orleans in 1962, when the Civil Rights movement was still a long way from achieving its goals. My parents were activists, participating in lunch counter sit-ins. While I was still small, we moved to Beaumont, Texas, where my dad (then teaching at Lamar University) was the campaign manager for the first black man to run for mayor of Beaumont. He didn’t win. (In east Texas circa 1964? Are you kidding?) I’m told we had a cross burned on our lawn over that, but I don’t remember the incident, if I even saw it.
I’ve been meaning for years to write a list of all the great theater I’ve seen in my life, thanks largely to my theater-loving dad. The production that’s on my mind this week, for obvious reasons, was one that I attended not with my dad but with his wife, Ruth, in London in 2001.
I had become aware of Alan Rickman when I saw Sense & Sensibility while on a visit to my friend Sue in Dallas in 1995 (I hadn’t seen Die Hard at that point – not my kind of movie). As soon as the film was over, Sue and I turned to each other and said: “Who was that?!?” We had shared tastes in men since high school, and Rickman was instant-crush material even in our 30s – that voice!
Not surprisingly, I had a lot of time to read this year. I also had a lot of material, in part because many kind people bought me books (and DVDs) from my Amazon wish list. Below, in no particular order, is a not quite a complete listing of what I read and re-read this year, I’m certainly forgetting things, and not listing some books that I haven’t finished (or, in some cases, even started) yet.
…one thing that grave illness does is to make you examine familiar principles and seemingly reliable sayings. And there’s one that I find I am not saying with quite the same conviction as I once used to: In particular, I have slightly stopped issuing the announcement that “whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” In fact, I now sometimes wonder why I ever thought it profound. In the brute physical world, and the one encompassed by medicine, there are all too many things that could kill you, don’t kill you, and then leave you considerably weaker.
In the past I’ve said that every year of my life has gotten at least a little better than the ones before it. I’ve chosen to believe that even in years when it wasn’t strictly true by most measures. 2015… well, I can’t say it was a good year, though some aspects were, in between a whole lot of nastiness. But… I survived it, with abundant proof that my life is worth fighting for, to me and to others.
I have a feeling that 2016 will be not just better than 2015, but better than most of my life to date. 2015 was just a bump in the road, and it’s behind me now.
ps If you want deep end of year reflections, read this.
^ photo: We caught the year getting ready to change on King’s Wharf, Sydney.