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Jim Crow in Silicon Valley is Exposed

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This is the age of high technology. IT companies are leading the way in job growth and high paying jobs as the word does business at the speed of thought.

No place else in the world concentrates in this industry better than the Silicon Valley of California (Palo Alto – San Jose area). So with California having a minority population of 52 percent logic would dictate that this is a place of much diversity and opportunity for Blacks and Hispanics. Sadly, that, according to investigative reporting from the San Jose Mercury News is not the case. This industry in this location is probably the most segregated and discriminatory place in the United States. The hiring and training by companies like Google, Apple, Yahoo, Oracle, Applied Materials, Hewlett Packard, Cisco and others are acting more like the Ku Klux Klan than a good corporate citizen.

It is easy to do when traditional civil rights groups give you a pass as long as you provide sponsorship money for their fundraising events. Some groups even join with these culprits on advocacy and legislative issues as if these bastions of racism are examples of good inclusive governance. This is damaging and has caused these rascals to go free of public criticism until now.

The Mercury News used the Freedom of Information Act to get hiring data as late as 2005 from the US Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP), which tracks this under Executive Order 11246. Every two years major corporations are audited for their racial and gender demographics at all levels of hiring. The News tried to get 2008 data but companies like Google, Apple, Yahoo, Oracle and Applied Materials have successfully blocked access to that data in the courts. It is a good reason that they did as the numbers are just un-American.

Of the ten companies investigated here are the results. Collectively, only 2.1 percent of the workforce is Black while only 5.2 percent of the workforce is Hispanic. The News states “Of the 5,907 top managers and officials in the Silicon Valley offices of the 10 large companies in 2005, 296 were Black or Hispanic, a 20 percent decline from 2000, according to U.S. Department of Labor work-force data obtained by the Mercury News through the Freedom of Information request. In 2008, the share of computer workers living in Silicon Valley who are Black or Latino was 1.5 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively – shares that had declined since 2000.

Nationally, Blacks and Latinos were 7.1 percent and 5.3 percent of computer workers, respectively, shares that were up since 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The share of managers and top officials who are female at those 10 big Silicon Valley firms slipped to 26 percent in 2005, from 28 percent in 2000.” This isn’t progress but a reversal of our gains during the Civil Rights Struggle.

What these racial culprits are doing should be punished by the U.S. Justice Department. It is blatant discrimination and must be stopped. Now that it is exposed we must put serious pressure on this activity. What they think they can do is import a massive amount of Asians via H-1B visas and count them in their collective minority numbers. First of all, only US citizens can be counted in these numbers and all groups, especially Black and Hispanic, must not be under represented. It violates law and should prohibit these corporations from doing business with the federal government or any other entity that receives federal funding or benefits from a federal program or regulation.

The NAACP, Urban League, La Raza, etc. should cease receiving money from these bigot corporations. Certainly they should stop doing their bidding and representing them as good outstanding corporate citizens.

They should be protesting and suing them in the courts.

They should put serious pressure on the U.S. government to enforce standing Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity laws.

If they don’t than I guess the National Black Chamber of Commerce will have to go after them in their absence like we did in the telecommunications and auto industries with success back in the 1990’s. It is not exactly our mission but someone has to do it.

Remember, there are reasons why we have triple the unemployment of the national average. This is one of them and no one is going to change the situation but us. We sometimes “sleep” with the enemy instead of beating them upside their heads. As Frederick Douglas taught us long ago, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and never will.” Wake up people they are trying to ruin us and destroy our children. This is not the time to be nice.

Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO, of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@ nationalbcc.org.

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+1 # Guest 2011-02-06 02:48
I'm a black man who has lived in silicon valley for over 20 years. I have worked for three computer science companies, two in Sunnyvale. What I experienced was an automatic "downgrading" of my professional status by the good ol white boys and asians. Indians have absolutely no respect for blacks. Stands to reason that blacks are denied jobs, promotions, and fair reviews. I experienced all of this and it is pervasive in a culture that pretty damn backwards when it comes to respecting blacks as equals. The culture rejects the black professional and any white person who says differently is clueless. This president must put an end to this crap!
+2 # Guest 2011-01-14 20:44
The report being circulated in the news is that there are fewer blacks, women, and whites working in Silicon Valley than there was in 2001.
+2 # Guest 2010-03-19 03:43
Thank you very much Mr. Alford for this wake up call, we as black people tend to fall asleep at the wheel at times and need articles such as this to get us to thinking. Keep up the good work, there are still a few of us out here that realizes that the fight must still be continued!!
-1 # Guest 2010-03-15 11:08
As someone who works in Silicon Valley as a software engineer, the racial diversity of my workplace strongly reflects what I saw way back in my college CS classes; if minorities are not majoring in computer science, then I'm not sure how anyone expects diversity in Silicon Valley to increase.

We are facing an increasing problem of lower CS degree completion in general especially among minorities and women (http://[censored].s dtimes.com/link/3374 2). Perhaps the non-technical rolls should have greater diversity, but I have no first hand experience or stats for that sector. However, I guarantee that foreign visas are not being used to bring in sales reps, marketing, or operations staff. They are used to bring in programming staff from countries that have focused on nurturing intense technical education programs.
-1 # Guest 2010-03-15 09:32
"What they think they can do is import a massive amount of Asians via H-1B visas and count them in their collective minority numbers"

In reality, corporate 'diversity' is really nothing more than anti-white working/middle class citizen

It's formed a perfect alliance between corporate America, and America's Left, that allows the Left to cash the corporate contribution checks with a smug sense of moral superiority
-4 # Guest 2010-03-12 12:41
I wonder if the low number of Black and Hispanic workers in Silicon Valley has anything to do with the low number of Black and Hispanic workers who choose to undertake a computer science or IT/IS education. Quite frankly, if these minorities make up only a small percentage of graduates with technical degrees, one should not be surprised if they also make up only a small percentage of employees of technical companies.

If you want to decrease this racial gap, the way to do it is through education, not by whining about how unfair these companies are for hiring the most qualified workers they can find.

Furthermore, there is no sort of collusion or planning between these companies to disenfranchise minorities, as the title "Jim Crow" seems to suggest. This piece is just as biased as the companies it condemns, and many times as ignorant.
-3 # Guest 2010-03-12 08:45
Alright, I am going to try and respect the game. Bob_T is making little sense (I am apparently guilty of crafting my own bad treatment at the hands of plutocratic employers; wow, that's some masochism!) and there's no point spamming this space.

This article is on a website meant to reflect the black voice. I don't agree with the specific grievance being raised about Asian H-1Bs, but in general, I am all for any move that allows America's significant minorities (blacks, hispanics) to break through. Good luck to Mr Alford and here's hoping for more black people in IT.
+3 # Guest 2010-03-12 07:31
Jason says

"Some are rude, some arrogant, all are free."

no, all are NOT free, and that's the whole problem. H-1bs set a labor standard of indentured servitude - becasue they bargain away their freedomj, which an American citizen cannot do, they have an edge, and that makes citizens less free, becasue they just lost a whole list of places they can work

It's not that American citizens didn;t or couldnt do enough for tech employers, if anything they did too much! They made them rich as pharaohs, and the first reaction of the tech employers was 'that's not fair! other pharaohs had slaves! Why cant we?

H-1bs have radically undermined the American middle class, arrogant interlopers who compete by lowering the standard of dignity
0 # Guest 2010-03-12 06:41
On comments by Indian_H1b.

Certainly your comments are within your rights as well.

So keep commenting.

But you shouldn't, logically, bunch up these 2 commentators. There is no coordinated effort against your opinion. In the U.S. you'll find a diverse set of opinion, that's what freedom is about.

Some are rude, some arrogant, all are free.
-3 # Guest 2010-03-11 17:29
That's quite hilarious. One dude says H-1B is a form of slavery. Another says H-1Bs aren't entitled to first amendement rights and should 'put a sock in it'.

Also, in case you're a little slow, there's quite a difference between leaving your kids behind consciously and dying in an accident. The former is unforgivable, the latter a tragedy.

I'm not visiting the US, I have lived here for a decade.
+5 # Guest 2010-03-11 16:15
All American (except employers) have been losing out big time to easy immigration for many years. Immigration really has come to be about flooding the labor market with people who "coincidentally" come in high percentages from low wage countries such as India (forget Japan or Western Europe). Immigration is about workers vs employers, and shouldn't be about one group of Americans against another. Surivival of the American workforce is at stake. Let's all join to stop easy immigration!!
+2 # Guest 2010-03-11 11:15

"Arrogance has no place in this argument. I am employing facts."

then proceeds to explain to us who's who and what's what, and 'what it's all about'

arrogant - and not at all uncommon among Indians here on H-1bs (which he is, by his handle)

I remember reading a business travel etiquette book years ago, and Number One rule for international travel, was that you DON'T get involved, or voice opinions in politics in the nation you are visiting, PERIOD

Indians such as himself, not only do, but insist that ONLY their opinion are right

And I'm also very offended by his remarks about single parent families, having lost a father in a car accident when I was a kid - I had to put up with that bigoted attitude when I was a kid (on top of losing my dad), even though both of my parents had both been professionals in a good marriage.

Indian H-1bs just dont know when to put a sock in it and shut up
-1 # Guest 2010-03-11 09:22
(Part 2)

Facts also state that blacks face an atypically high rate of fissured families and teenage pregnancies. My premise here is that arguments made by focusing on tangential out-liers serve to detract from the real problem and make the arguer appear crooked.

As an Indian in the US, it's embarrassing how many racist Indians I know. Heck, we even have a caste system that's practised primarily in non-urban India. But, the existence of racist Indians in the US is statistical noise. It does nothing to improve or threaten the prospects of blacks in America.
-2 # Guest 2010-03-11 09:19
(Part 1)
Bob T and Joe,

Arrogance has no place in this argument. I am employing facts.

And facts say that there is NO BASIS to assume blacks and hispanics are systematically incapable. I am AGAINST the stereotype.

I have several black friends who are truly brilliant (and would be in the same over-achieving class I reference before). In every case, they come from 2 parent households. Not always are their parents highly educated. However, they clearly cared enough for their kids to stay married and sacrificed for their education by taking up sometimes up to 3 jobs each. Hard to not respect such amazing people.
+3 # Guest 2010-03-11 08:19
Responding to comment(s) by Indian_h1b.

Each applicant must be reviewed on an Individual basis.

It's clear that justifying such discrimination because of stereotypical views of a group of people is a big part of the problem, as it perpetuates a myth that certain groups are not qualified.

Hi-tech companies are notorious for rejecting 99% of the resumes they recieve, from local candidates, often for trivial reasons. Have you seen the "Cohen and Grigsby" video on You Tube. Where Hi-tech company H.R. administrators are trained on how to discriminate against U.S. citizens?

Hi-tech companies benefit from public program such as the Green card, L-1, and H-1b visa. It is also important that such companies be publicly accountable for their usage of these programs.
+3 # Guest 2010-03-11 08:19
I think the person posting as Indian_H1B displayed the raw arrogance involved in this issue pretty well
+3 # Guest 2010-03-11 07:25
My mother, a retired realtor, tells me that in the 60s, no one was to sell homes to black families west of 101 under threat of being blackballed from the business. It's been forty years but it looks like very little has changed around here. It's saddening.

And despite this official unofficial redlining, black professionals have made contributions above and beyond their numbers in this valley -- like the two sisters who created and quarterbacked the Women's Re-Entry Program at De Anza in the 70s. They got hundreds of women through college, two in my family. Thanks, hermanitas.
0 # Guest 2010-03-11 07:11
Since IQ disparities between races have been scientifically rubbished, whereas, the impact of stable families on educational attainment has only been reinforced, I see a shameless lack of responsibility in these allegations. If blacks and hispanics accorded their children stable households, that will have likely improved career performance several orders of magnitude compared to any battle won in smoking out racists in Silicon Valley (no-one is disputing they absolutely exist).
-1 # Guest 2010-03-11 07:09
I think there are quite a few unbiased studies that put blacks and hispanics at a few standard deviations below Asians in academic achievement on standardized tests such as the SAT. I don't think that phenomenon is peculiar to California.

I think you should choose your enemies wisely. That blacks and hispanics face lower opportunities than they deserve is beyond dispute. If you are going to complain about an over-achieving segment of the population that is barely 2% of the total, the statistical impact of that marginalization would be insignificant while you would merely proven that you are bigots.
+1 # Guest 2010-03-11 06:50
Thank you for writing about this. We need tech companies to be completely open about their hiring practices. All U.S. citizens need a fair and equal chance to compete jobs.

Current H-1b Department of Labor policy does not allow this.

We need to end the defacto indentured worker here on Visa or here trying to get a Green card. Companies prefer the indentured worker over the local candidate, slavery in any form is immoral. Free the worker (foreign and domestic) allow the worker to control their own Visa and Green card process.
+4 # Guest 2010-03-11 06:25
Employers can legally discriminate against qualified Americans by firing them without cause and recruiting only H-1B guest-workers to replace them. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has said: “H-1B workers may be hired even when a qualified U.S. worker wants the job, and a U.S. worker can be displaced from the job in favor of a foreign worker.” Some companies that discriminate against American workers are so brazen that their job advertisements say “H-1B visa holders only.” And some companies in the United States have workforces that consist almost entirely of H-1B guest-workers.
+2 # Guest 2010-03-11 05:35
Thank you for drawing attention to what these companies are doing with the H-1B visa program. Write to your representatives in Washington and tell them to end this horribly corrupt program. http://americanworker.org/
+3 # Guest 2010-03-11 05:06
This is absolutely true! Thank you for speaking out on this!

And this is why I hate the Democratic party's guts, becasue all my life they've lectured me on how bad 'Jim Crow' was, even though it never happened in my lifetime, and my ancestors never had anything to do with it.

But when I approached all of them about the tech 'Jim Crow, that's happening RIGHT NOW, it's 'oh wait! cant talk about that' conversation over'' (translation: 'gotta go cash my campaign contribution check from Bill Gates')


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