“They wanted to have my presence, but not me exactly. They wanted to have the idea of me being at Google, but not the reality of me being at Google,” Gebru said.
These academic departments-some quite famous for espousing egalitarian and progressive values-were willing to hire a scholar with a Black face, but they made it crystal clear that they did not want the mind that came with it. The issues that mind wanted to study-issues of racial, economic, and gender inequality-simply did not belong in their hallowed halls. What they taught me is that the institutions were willing to do what Sara Ahmed calls the “image work” of diversity, but they were not willing to expand their ways of thinking to be inclusive of a range of ideas and approaches. The “gatekeepers of tenure” wanted ideas from people who are just like themselves.
We joined the ERG because we needed help, but we became the help.
Over and over it goes.