We all know that America’s tech industry is a sea of wall-to-wall white men that occasionally allows women, Black people, and people of color into its world of hacky sacks, Birkenstocks, and unkempt beards Black men could never get away with in a professional environment. (It’s possible I’ve just seen too much of HBO’s Silicon Valley, but I feel like this is a realistic depiction.)
We also know that in predominately white environments, Black people experience racial profiling as commonly as white people experience Black vernacular they can’t wait to colonize.
Recently, Angel Onuoha, an associate product manager at Google, tweeted about an experience in which he was riding his bike around Google’s campus when he was stopped by security guards who took his ID badge then held him for 30 minutes while they verified his employment, which they apparently were unable to do and so they escorted him off the premises as they refused to believe he worked there.
A lot of people keep DM’ing me asking for the full story…
They ended up taking my ID badge away from me later that day and I was told to call security if I had a problem with it. And that was after holding me up for 30 minutes causing me to miss my bus ride home https://t.co/UBzHDC1ugG
— Angel Onuoha (@angelonuoha7) September 22, 2021
Onuoha’s tweet quickly went viral which apparently forced Google to address the issue by explaining to Forbes that nothing racist actually happened and it was actually an “administrative error” that prevented security from verifying his employment.
“We take this employee’s concerns very seriously, are in touch with him and are looking into this. We learned that the employee was having issues with his badge due to an administrative error and contacted the reception team for help. After they were unable to resolve the issue, the security team was called to look into and help resolve the issue,” a Google spokesperson said. “More broadly, one step we’ve taken recently to decrease badging incidents is to make clear that employees should leave investigating these kinds of access concerns to our security team. Our goal is to ensure that every employee experiences Google as an inclusive workplace and that we create a stronger sense of belonging for all employees.”
I swear, some administrators have mastered the art of making statements that manage to be lengthy and say next to nothing at the same time. What “administrative error” would prevent an ID badge from identifying an employee? It’s literally the ID badge’s only job.
Also, how is Google going to “decrease badging incidents” by telling Black employees to “leave investigating these kinds of access concerns to our security team,” when the issue is said security team stopping them in the first place? They’re not going to see Google as an “inclusive workplace” if Google officials are responding to their concerns with statements that aren’t even “inclusive” of any real substance.
And that’s likely why other Black employees showed their support for Onuoha by recalling their own similar experiences with the company.
Walked into G with my badge prominently displayed/laptop in hand, going in door to building while someone else was headed out, she asked me who I was/do I belong there, and berated me for others “just letting me in”. 🤡
— Kimberley Kirk 👩🏽💻🍱 (@KimBlievable) September 21, 2021
Dawg I worked as security at Google and got security called on me. Smh
— Albert Richardson (@AldadofDamian) September 21, 2021
I was on lunch in one of the micro kitchens. My radio goes off like “Hey Al when you get off of lunch can you head over to the second floor micro kitchen. A Googler just reported a suspicious individual in that area.” I spent a hour looking for myself.
— Albert Richardson (@AldadofDamian) September 22, 2021
Noticeably absent were white Google employees claiming to have had the same issues at work.
Then, of course, there was Leslie Miley, an engineering manager at Google’s San Francisco offices, who, according to USA Today, tweeted, “Welcome to being Black in Big Tech,” after being physically stopped by a google employee who demanded to see his badge.
I’m just saying, this appears to be one pervasive and seemingly racist “administrative error.”