26th August - A short but important update.
In the wake of the issues surfaced around the React community over the last few days, I need to clarify something.
This post was written before the main issues unraveled on twitter and is currently being shared out of context. It was a reaction to witnessing months of overblown, real life arguments around the framework choice itself, and my frustration at the "React bro" stereotype that was emerging.
If you're looking to share this as a call to "just ignore" the uncomfortable conversations about white supremacy. Don't.
We can't ignore them.
As overrepresented people, we have the privilege of being able to walk away when we're uncomfortable, while marginalized people can't and are left to pick up the pieces.
Don't take personal offense when toxic behavior is called out in your community. Listen. Take steps to fix it.
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
"With clarity and compassion, DiAngelo allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to "bad people." In doing so, she moves our national discussions forward. This is a necessary book for all people invested in societal change" -Claudia Rankine
23th August - Original post.
A while back I witnessed a conversation between two developers. I feel like I've seen similar conversations play out infinitely on twitter since then.
One developer had spent the previous few months focusing on increasing the accessibility of an existing large scale project. The other was a respected voice on accessibility.
The first developer had been talking passionately to me about the accessibility gains they'd made and seemed excited to get the second developers feedback on the project.
But this never happened.
Instead, as soon as the framework was mentioned, this conversation dissolved into a gunslinging cesspit of needless, ego-driven negativity. Both developers were on the same side. Both developers were advocating for the user. But neither of them were actually listening for long enough to hear the other person.
The comments, from both sides, were a reactionary mess, tainted by existing preconceptions. They were ignoring everything but the snippets that confirmed their own biases.
This conversation could have been educational. But instead both developers left the conversation in a rage, and after attempting to mediate this trashfire, I left feeling drained and exhausted.
I wish this feeling had ended there. But I'm still exhausted. I'm writing this partially to implore everyone to put the damn pitchforks down, but also, frankly, because I need to vent.
A framework choice is not a personality. There is no right or wrong choice. Just the right choice for a particular team and project and time.
Viewing framework choices as "us vs them" just fosters a culture of superiority and gatekeeping.
Yes, we should be considering the user first. But as long as that's considered, at the end of the day. the tool you use to get the job done is just a tool. People are not inherently bad because of the tools they're using at their workplace.
Now, I'm not saying there isn't a problem. I'm aware of the toxic voices in the React community. But by acknowledging and subtweeting them we're amplifying this noise and drowning out people who have more interesting things to say. (I'm aware of the irony of writing a blog post which is basically a subtweet.)
As a woman, I'm also very tired of the "React bro" narrative. I'm tired of seeing it from people who list in in their bio's like some bizarre badge of honour and I'm tired of hearing it used as an insult. All it serves to do is create yet another unnecessary gendered layer to an industry already riddled with misogyny. It makes it sound like all React devs are just ripped dudes, swaggering about, high fiving each other and belching. We already have enough damaging stereotypes in the tech industry that don't include women.
I'm bored folks. I'm bored of hearing the same loud voices, shouting about the same boring reductionist stuff day after day. They're drowning out the quieter, more interesting conversations happening in the background.
It’s undeniably important to call out intolerant attitudes in a community. These views, if left unnoticed can fester and spread. But we can call them out without being equally provocative. We can lead by example. While everyone was shouting yesterday, a female friend of mine was quietly consulting and making plans to help move this community in a more positive direction.
Can we please put down the pitchforks, stop the subtweeting and focus on the people in the community doing great things. We can shape the direction this community takes by choosing to listen to the right people.
Let's use our energy and our online platform more wisely.
Spend our time sharing articles like this -
Getting started with web accessibility in React: Emily Mears
Amplifying the voices in this thread, especially the women of colour.
And supporting positive initiatives like this -
Enough shouting. It's time for the quiet majority to have their say.