I am beginning to feel like I am in a racial Groundhog Day. It turns out I am part of the problem in the new South Africa and not part of the solution. I participated in Mandy de Waal’s informal survey on ITWeb in which she posed the question which 3 people I would have working with me if head-hunting and money were not issues. I sent her the following three names and thoughts about each person for her article:
1. Tyler Reed is plugged into the almost uncharted youth market and has some pretty revealing insights into how differently the youth approaches new media and media in general when compared to an older audience.
2. Mike Stopforth has the ability to translate new media jargon and concepts into plain English and get people fired up about the potential for new media. He may not be technically proficient but a vital part of selling new media is making it all intelligible and useful. Mike can do that.
3. Maximillian Kaizen is the woman you want if you need someone who can think truly outside the box and present innovative solutions to new challenges. She understands the tools and is constantly looking around for new talent to give substance to help innovate in this space even further.
As Nic pointed out, the purpose of the article was pretty innocuous:
The angle of the article was simply an interview and answer process. Certain people who are major players in the online market were asked to name three people who they would want to work with in the online arena. These people did so. Not based on racial innuendos as justifications. These were simply the people who each interviewee wished to work with on a professional level.
It turns out all I managed to do was to reveal my thus far hidden racist tendencies because my list of 3 people didn’t include a suitable non-white representation. Ramon Thomas caught me out and boy do I feel silly. There I was thinking of 3 (out of a dozen) people I would love to work in an office with and I just went and picked two white men and a woman! I tell you, I may as well haul out my khakis and long socks at this point.
So much for picking 3 South Africans I respect and thinking that would be good enough. Never mind that there many more South Africans I could add to the mix if I had the opportunity. And you know what, at the risk of sounding like an apologist, a couple of those people wouldn’t be white but I wasn’t really planning a response along racial lines. I was just thinking of 3 people I’d love to work with and the best I could come up with was a guy who is plugged into the youth vibe (at least he talks in a lingo I don’t get); one of the best networkers and down to earth guys I have ever met and a brilliant woman whose brain runs circles around most people I know without breaking a sweat. But none of that really matters, they’re all white.
Other people have adopted a more analytical approach to Ramon’s criticism. I am just pissed that I have been caught out. Oh, and a little because Ramon has basically said that the people I chose aren’t worth their veldskoene because they happen to be white.