Got money?

Dec. 30th, 2016 07:03 pm
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
If not, you can skip the rest of this post, unless you want to pass the suggestions along to your friends who do have money.

It's almost the end of the year, so you're probably doing what I'm doing: making sure to max out your corporate gift match, if your employer has one.

If you don't know where to donate, here are the groups I donated to just now.

1. Partners In Health - providing direct health care where it's needed most and advancing social justice, on the principle that everybody should have access to the same kind of health care you would expect for yourself or for a friend or loved one. I've been a supporter for years ever since I read Tracy Kidder's book _Mountains Beyond Mountains_ (about PIH founder Paul Farmer). They have a matching fund drive on until 12/31, so anything you donate today or tomorrow will be at least doubled, or tripled if your employer matches funds!

2. TGI Justice Project (TGIJP) - a small community organization based in San Francisco that advocates for incarcerated trans women of color.

3. Scarleteen - reality-based sex education for youth. Shout-out to the amazing work of Heather Corinna and her dedicated volunteers (including [personal profile] ranyart!)

4. National Network of Abortion Funds - I've been supporting them ever since the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009. In the US, it's illegal for public funds (e.g. Medicaid) to be used to pay for abortions. NNAF helps make up for that by directly funding abortions as well as campaigning for legislative change. With the incoming regime being what it is, their work is more important than ever.

5. United We Dream - advocating for immigration reform in the US. (Note that if you go to the donate link from their main home page, it goes to the legislative/lobbying 501(c)(4) organization, which probably can't be matched by your employer if that's a concern for you, though you should still support them anyway. I donated to the 501(c)(3) organization so it would be matched.)

6. MPower Change - a network of grassroots groups led by Muslim Americans. (Donations are administered by Citizen Engagement Lab, so look for that organization when you request donation matches.)

7. Southern Coalition for Social Justice - a North-Carolina-based group that has several focuses, but one of them is voting rights; given that this past election outcome was largely the result of long-term efforts by Republicans to suppress Black people's right to vote, their work is important right now.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
As per this post from me a month ago, I said that I would donate $5 for each harassing tweet I received as part of the SJWList harassment campaign. I received 5 such tweets and have donated $25 to http://www.code2040.org/. The combined impact of this donation will be $125: $25 from me, $25 each from [twitter.com profile] bcjbcjbcj and [twitter.com profile] cbeckpdx, $25 from an anonymous donor, and a $25 match from my employer.

A few harassing tweets can go a long way! (Not meant as encouragement to harass people :)
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
If you missed it, I (and several hundred of my colleagues) are now on a blacklist because we signed a statement saying that we disagreed with the LambdaConf functional programming conference's decision to host a white supremacist speaker.

I filed a complaint to the Internet service provider (Alchemy Communications, a partial subsidiary of Dreamhost Communications according to Alchemy's home page) for the blacklist, since its purpose is clearly to incite harassment and violence against individuals. In response, an employee of Alchemy posted my personally identifying information to 8chan, and I'm now being harassed on Twitter with tweets @-mentioning both me and the CEO of the company I work for.

From now until May 15, I'll be donating $5 to Code2040 for every harassing tweet I receive as part of this campaign. (I am the final arbiter of which tweets are harassing and are part of this campaign, for the purpose of this fundraiser.) I'll make the final donation after May 15 and post receipts. Donations will be matched quadruply by an anonymous donor who will match up to $100; [twitter.com profile] bcjbcjbcj, who will match up to $250; and [twitter.com profile] cbeckpdx, who will match up to $150. That means the first 20 harassing tweets (I've gotten 4 so far) will count for $20 each, the next 10 will count for $15 each, the next 20 will count for $10 each, and all remaining tweets up to May 15 will count for $5 each.

What better way to deal with white supremacist harassment than to support Black and Latin@ programmers? Let me know if you'd like to match donations as well.

Thanks to Kelly Ellis for the idea.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
We've achieved our $8192 goal!!!! But wait, there's more: we're increasing our goal for a second time and are trying to raise $10,000 by 5 PM Pacific time today. (If we raise $16,384, there will be filk singing.)

Donation button

Donate to the Ada Initiative

Thanks to those who donated between 6:00 PM September 18 and 12:15 PM September 19 and gave permission for their names to be used and/or tweeted about it on #lambda4ada:

Aaron Miller
André Arko
Andy Adams-Moran
Dan Licata
[twitter.com profile] dorchard
Eni Mustafaraj
Eric Sipple
Glenn Willen
Justin Bailey
Ken Keiter
Kevin Scaldeferri
Kristy
[twitter.com profile] lindsey
Lyn Turbak
M Wallace
Michael Greenberg
Peter Fogg
Rob Simmons
Ryan Wright
[twitter.com profile] simrob

If your name is not on the list, you've donated, and you'd like it to be, send me an email (catamorphism at gmail).


A thought for today:

On Reddit, user green_mage asked:
"Why ask us to pay for something you don't want to talk about?"

This was in reference to what I said in my initial post:

"I would rather not talk about diversity, inclusion, feminism, gender, race, and sexuality with my colleagues. The difference between me and -- say, the young male graduate student who attended Wouter's Haskell Symposium talk and later tweeted something to the effect that Europe didn't have a good record when it came to distinguishing people based on race and gender -- isn't how interested we are in lambdas, type theory, theorem proving, compilers, or whatever happens to make our synapses light up. We both are. The difference is that I cannot do my job while ignoring the constant drone of small -- and occasionally big -- indignities and violations that make my friends who are also my colleagues sad and, sometimes, drive them out of the field altogether."

I don't want to fix bugs in code. I would much prefer it if my code worked the first time I wrote it, so I could focus on implementing new features. Wouldn't everybody?

I fix bugs anyway. Not just because I get paid to do that -- I'd still do it even if I became independently wealthy and decided to devote the rest of my days to open-source volunteering. The reason I fix bugs is that -- as anyone who's ever used a computer knows, not just programmers -- bugs in software detract from the pleasure and delight that using good software can bring. All the new features in the world don't do much good for someone using my code if it crashes when they try to save a file.

I try to fix bugs in culture for the same reason. That we exclude people who look different from ourselves from our professional cultures -- usually without meaning to -- is a bug in human behavior. We are taught to hold onto our power; that part of the value in who we are and what we do is excluding other people from it. (This is why most women were driven out of computing in the 1960s, when it began to be a professional and profitable occupation.) Exclusion and marginalization, deliberate or accidental, distract attention from the things that unite those of us who like to program in functional languages: beauty, elegance, the Curry-Howard isomorphism.

I don't want to fix bugs. But I do it because it's part of being a programmer. I don't want to do advocacy. But I do it because if I don't, I don't feel like I'm doing my job, either.

I hope this answers green_mage's question.

Donation button

Donate to the Ada Initiative

tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
We're on day 3 of 4 in the functional programming community challenge -- we're less than $1000 from our $8192 revised goal! We have exceeded our second goal, $8192, and have increased the goal to $10,000!

Donation button

Donate to the Ada Initiative

Thanks to the people who donated between 3:00 PM September 17 and 6:00 PM September 18 who gave permission for their names to be used and/or tweeted saying that they donated; if your name is not on the list and you donated, then you either didn't give permission, didn't use the ?campaign=lambda URL suffix, or something somewhere got messed up; if so, email me (catamorphism at gmail) and we'll fix it.

AlephCloud Systems -- our first corporate donor! (We'd love more.)
Corey "cmr" Richardson
Eric Kow [twitter.com profile] kowey
Jack Moffitt
Philip Wadler

As well as those who donated earlier, but whose names got left off the first list somehow:

Aaron Tomb [twitter.com profile] atombeast
algebraic affects [twitter.com profile] joshbohde
Bob Atkey [twitter.com profile] bentnib
Maggie Litton [twitter.com profile] MaggieLitton

And finally, thanks to [twitter.com profile] haskellnow, [twitter.com profile] haskellorg, and [twitter.com profile] lambdaladies for help publicizing!

Giving money is a good start, and I hope that at least some people will be moved to collaborate with the Ada Initiative in other ways. In any case, it shouldn't end there. Here are 12 other things that functional programmers who want to support and include women can do:


  1. Know what intersectionality is
    This is tricky to talk about, because TAI and the loosely affiliated Geek Feminism Blog and Geek Feminism Wiki are all run mostly by white people (like me). We all know there's a problem here; we talk about how there's no excuse for companies and open-source communities to be 100% male, yet we're almost 100% white.

    With that said, to be an ally, being open to feminist perspectives isn't enough. Intersectionality, a term coined by Black feminist scholar Patricia Hill Collins, refers to the ways in which membership in multiple oppressed groups is not compositional. That is, a Black woman's experiences (for example) are not merely the result of composing a prototypical white woman's experiences with a prototypical Black man's experiences; rather, multiple marginalizations compose in a more complicated way. When it comes to understanding a concept like intersectionality, functional programmers have an advantage: like intersectional feminists, we are often criticized for using too many long and unfamiliar words. So we should know as well as anyone that sometimes, technical language is necessary for clarity. (Insert pun about intersection types here.)
  2. Attend an Ally Skills workshop

    The Ada Initiative runs workshops that teach men how to better support women in their workplaces and other communities. I participated in the Ally Skills track during this year's AdaCamp in Portland, and I appreciated that it was designed primarily around small-group discussions of hypothetical but realistic scenarios. For a reasonable fee, TAI will hold one at your workplace, and one thing that donations finance is holding them at nonprofit organizations for a reduced cost. You just have to ask.
  3. Listen to women

    When a woman talks about her experiences, and you have never had the experience of being perceived as a woman, try something: assume she is reporting on her own experiences accurately. Almost all the time, your assumption will be correct. But more than that, it's an important skill to be able to temporarily suspend your programmerly desire to find edge cases and point out errors, and just listen. Listening doesn't always mean shutting the heck up, although sometimes that's what's needed too. Rather, active listening means acknowledging that you understand what's being said: you can do this non-verbally (for in-person discussions) or by rephrasing what the person said in different words to indicate your comprehension and validate what she is saying. In light of point 1 about intersectionality, the more intersecting oppressions somebody has, the more important it is to listen to and let them know that you hear them.

    This doesn't mean you have to believe everything all women say all the time. Rather, it means that there are already enough men in the world automatically casting doubt on everything a woman says, and you don't need to be one more. Indicating that you hear what somebody is saying doesn't mean agreeing. It means that for the moment, you prioritize understanding their message ahead of showing off how much you know or how good you are at debates. You can decide offline whether to agree.
  4. Believe women

    But I just said you didn't have to agree! Well, yes, you don't have to, but in a world that bombards more or less all women with gaslighting, believing a woman is a radical act. In particular, if a woman is talking about her experience of harassment or another adverse experience that typically involves men mistreating women when no other men are present, assume she's telling the truth (and if anything, understating how bad it was). You will almost never be wrong if you believe her, and it's better to have a vanishingly low chance of being wrong than to contribute to the systematic psychological torture of women who are honest about their lives.
  5. Help women get heard

    Say you're in a meeting and a woman says something; it's ignored, and 15 minutes later, a man rephrases the same idea and gets praised for it. At that moment, you can speak out by saying, "How does that compare to the idea that [woman's name] proposed?" This is a non-confrontational way to re-center the woman as originator of an idea. In general, if you're in a conversation and other people are steamrolling a woman or women, say something -- you don't have to say "you sexist pigs, why don't you listen to her?" unless you want to, but there are many different ways to indicate that, if nothing else, you heard her.
  6. Hire women

    If you work at a software company and have any influence over hiring, hire women. The same goes if you work at a university, even if the hiring process is a bit more byzantine. In computer science or in software, anybody who is not a cis man is more qualified than an imaginary person who is identical except being a cis man. Isn't that "reverse sexism"? No, for the same reason that it's harder to do a pull-up with 50 pounds of weights strapped to your ankles than without. Give women (as well as people of color, disabled people, trans people, queer people...) credit for the enormous amount of work they've had to do just to be seen as equally competent to a given man who is actually less competent. In functional programming, nobody would do this work just for fame and wealth, because there is very little of that to be had; someone purely interested in a high-paying job or other extrinsic motivators would never choose our field if they also had to deal with others' bias along with the risk of not getting rewarded at all. The people who do persevere do it because they love the work they do, probably more than you do.
  7. Practice your empathy

    If you have lived your entire life in the Western Hemisphere being seen as a white, cis, abled man, you probably have some work to do here. It's not your fault: it's likely that you've rarely been rewarded for taking the perspective of someone unlike yourself, and indeed have been coddled for solipsistic thinking rather than being encouraged to think of others' feelings. Fortunately, empathy is a skill that can be learned. Kronda Adair's talk Expanding Your Empathy (from Open Source Bridge 2013) is one place to start.
  8. Encourage double-blind reviewing

    This one applies to those of you who review for and/or help organize academic conferences. It is documented beyond a shadow of a doubt that innate bias affects decisions about people's work: when evaluators know that a particular article is by somebody with a name they interpret as female, they grade it more harshly than if all of its authors had male-coded names. Most people don't want to exercise bias against women, but they do anyway, subconsciously. Concealing author names during reviewing goes part of the way towards addressing this problem. It's not perfect, but someone claiming that it doesn't reduce bias is making an evidence-free claim.

    Non-academics can try applying this one by having their recruiting team (if they have one) redact names from resumes during the first round of candidate evaluation.
  9. Show fallibility and humility

    This one has to be exercised carefully, but if you are someone with a relatively high amount of power (for example, if you're a white cis man who has a tenure-track or tenured academic position, or are a manager in an industry position), it's helpful to others around you if you say "I don't know" when you don't know, admit mistakes when you are wrong, and acknowledge when you're finding something difficult. Sometimes people underestimate just how much influence they have. If you're white, cis, and male, whether you like it or not, the people around you will tend to believe the things you say. With that increased power comes increased responsibility: to scrupulously distinguish what you believe to be facts from what you know are your opinions.
  10. Volunteer to mentor women

    For example, the GNOME Outreach Program for Women matches promising women getting started in open source with mentors from various projects. This is one of the most direct, personal ways you can help. If you don't work on an open-source project, find out what your company can do in the way of outreach at local schools, or if you're a faculty member, figure out what your department can do to support women in undergrad and graduate CS programs instead of just tallying up your admission numbers and cheerfully declaring diversity a done deal while all the women get constructively dismissed.

    If you do this, though, be prepared to learn as much from your mentee as vice versa.
  11. Try to be kinder than you have to

    I don't mean that you need to be kind to people who are abusing or oppressing you; you don't. What I mean is that you have the affordance of being patient when somebody asks the same beginner question for the nth time on a forum you're on, or when somebody makes a wrong assumption based on their knowledge of a different programming language. It's easy to lose patience with people who don't know as much as you do; I've done it a lot myself. But it takes very little to make somebody give up on a community that is new to them, and I've personally seen that happening with functional programming. When somebody else genuinely seems to be acting in good faith, even if they're confused or seem to be slow on the uptake, just remind yourself that you have a privilege that they lack (knowledge) and give them the benefit of the doubt.
  12. Remember that functional programming is a part of programming, and programming is part of the world.

    You might react to some of these suggestions with, "what does that have to do with functional programming? That happens everywhere." Indeed. Most of these bullet points are not specific to our field. But global problems must be addressed locally, in the community that you're in. The good news is that everything you do to make functional programming a safer field for women, and genderqueer and non-binary, people to be in will also make programming as a whole that much safer, as well as the world as a whole.

Donation button

Donate to the Ada Initiative
Don't forget to tweet to #lambda4ada when you donate! Suggested tweet, though you're encouraged to use your own words:

I donated to @adainitiative b/c I want @TheOfficialACM events to announce their anti-harassment policy. https://supportada.org?campaign=lambda #lambda4ada

tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
A few weeks ago, I agreed to be interviewed by a reporter for CNN Money (online only, there's no TV version of this as far as I know) about my financial situation -- the Transgender Law Center put me in touch with her. Of course, I would rather make the news for something other than being in massive debt, but I'm hoping this will help raise awareness of something like that. Here's the article, which goes with a slide show of me and five trans women, with each of our stories in our own words. I can't speak for any of the other five participants, but I was pleased with the level of accuracy with which Blake Ellis, the author, transcribed my words as you see them on the page.

Despite my net worth being in the negative five figures, I still try to donate to organizations I support, and (while doing my taxes for 2012) I had occasion to make a list of them. These are not the only organizations I've supported, but they are my favorites. Here they are, in case you have more money than you know what to do with and want suggestions.

Scarleteen

I wish I'd had access to this site when I was 12 or 13. (I still thought that "oral sex" referred to kissing at that point.) In a country where whether teenagers should get accurate information about sex in school is a controversial subject, sites like this are sorely needed. Scarleteen is a labor of love by Heather Corinna, whose online presence I've been following for a while now, and her commitment and dedication to maintaining the site for minimal reward is inspiring.

The Ada Initiative

Open-source and free software communities, as well as free culture projects like Wikipedia, continue to be hostile environments for women, people in gender, sexual and romantic minorities, and lots of other people who are from groups that have outsider status. It doesn't have to be that way, and it would be better for everyone if everyone who had desire and energy to contribute was able to participate in building the future without fear of humiliation. The Ada Initiative is the only group I know of that is specifically working to make that vision a reality. I have had the pleasure of meeting and interacting online with both of the founders, Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurora, so I have particular confidence in TAI's effectiveness.

National Network of Abortion Funds

Incredibly, getting an abortion in the US in 2013 is still highly dependent on one's income, and we still are a nation where being forced to give birth to a baby because of inability to pay around $500 (or in many locations, thousands of dollars when travel costs are factored in) is far from unheard of. The National Network of Abortion Funds focuses specifically on funding abortions for people who can't afford them, as well as changing unjust laws like the Hyde Amendment. They are sometimes good (not perfect!) at using language in their publicity that acknowledges that people who get pregnant and need abortions aren't always women. Stacey Burns, the online communications manager for NNAF, friended me on Facebook after I did a Causes.com birthday wish for NNAF a few years back, and through reading her posts, I've gotten a good sense for the kind of activism that NNAF represents, and that it's something I want to support.

All Hands Volunteers

In the summer of 2010, I went to Léogâne, Haiti for six weeks to help with earthquake relief. All Hands Volunteers was the group I volunteered with. I ended up leaving Haiti after four weeks instead of six -- turns out heavy labor in extreme heat wasn't the thing I was best at (and after years and years of sitting at a desk 40+ hours a week -- who'd have guessed?) While I was there, though, I saw firsthand that All Hands is a group that's very effective at getting a lot of work done with a small group of very committed volunteers. Since then, they've initiated disaster relief projects in the Philippines as well as post-Sandy relief in Staten Island and Long Island. Some of the volunteers I met while working with All Hands were among the most inspiring people I've ever met.

Lyon-Martin Health Services

I'm biased -- Lyon-Martin, in San Francisco, is where I get my primary health care. It's a place where I can feel confident that I won't be treated awkwardly or be forced to educate about being a man with a transsexual body, and it's also a place where trans women, queer cis women, and genderqueer people can feel confident of the same. They operate on a shoestring and were close to shutting down not long ago. You should give not just if you want to support respectful health care in the Bay Area, but also if you want to make sure that the informed-consent model for trans health care spreads further.

Partners in Health

Years ago, I read _Mountains Beyond Mountains_ by Tracy Kidder (on the recommendation of a LiveJournal friend!), a biography of Paul Farmer -- who, along with Ophelia Dahl, founded Partners in Health -- and it has affected my thoughts, if not yet my actions, ever since. Paul Farmer's belief in and work towards providing the same health care to poor people that (say) a Silicon Valley software engineer like me would expect for themself or for their friends and family is challenging and is a source of hope. I also appreciate that while PIH is non-sectarian, it's inspired by liberation theology; _Mountains Beyond Mountains_ quotes Farmer as saying that he knew there had to be something to religion, because rich people hated it and poor people derived strength from it. I like that. And PIH gets stuff done (plus, Ophelia Dahl graduated from my alma mater, Wellesley, reminding me that not everyone from my school becomes an investment banker).

Transgender, Gender-Variant and Intersex Justice Project

There are big-name organizations that call themselves "LGBT" when the "T" really stands for transmisogyny and the B is silent, but the TGI Justice Project is the real thing. Just as PIH focuses on providing health care where it's needed the most, TGIJP focuses on the needs of that subset of the "LGBTIQ" cohort who need justice the most: trans women of color who are or have been incarcerated or who are targeted by the criminal justice system.

Having written this list, now I'm looking forward to having my debts paid off so I can support all of these organizations more thoroughly! If you particularly want to support organizations whose work is of a global nature, Partners in Health and All Hands Volunteers are your best bets on this list. Most of my favorites are US-centric, though, since I believe in helping with the needs that I'm most familiar with (since who else is going to but the people who are affected?)

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