Living while Black ep #1: Django is not just a superhero iconic slave character


warning: this post has not been edited and is in it’s most organic form.



The incident:

During my normal morning routine of Facebook posting the first thought that comes to mind and simultaneously checking my email for evidence that I have indeed taken over the world, I get a message from a new friend. The email subject line reads “See you at: Django Girls Workshop.”  In the message the friend expressed that she would be attending this workshop with a woman that she mentors. I click the link to get to the meetup page.

My reaction:
My initial reaction is “WHAT THE HELL?! A Django Girls Workshop run by all white women?!” She probably thought I was really stupid (will explain later). I expressed to my friend that it felt weird to see a workshop hosted by all white women and named after a pop culture slave superhero icon. She did not respond.

My action step:
I googled the name “Django” and found that it is the name of famous guitar player, it means “I awake,” and from the Urban Dictionary it is also used interchangeable with the word “dude.” After reading through the workshop description again I realized that this event was a computer programming/web development workshop for young girls. I was still puzzled about the name so I sent a message to the organizers.

I hope this message finds you well. Someone sent me an invite to your Django Girls event. Initially, my thought was “WHAT THE HELL?! A group named Django Girls organized by a white woman (picture showing in organizer corner) is really weird.” Ultimately, it’s not a matter of it being organized by white people as it is a matter of why the name “Django.” The name means “I awake,” is a nickname for a man or slang for “dude.” In pop culture it will be immediately associated with “Django Unchained.” The cause is awesome. I am hoping that the organizers can understand how it could be viewed and have explained somewhere why the name was chosen. Could you direct me to that space?

Response to my action from other party:
Two organizers responded (hereinafter referred to as O1 and O2).  Maybe O1 was prepared because her response was immediate and cold. She stated that Django was a famous guitarist and sent me two links to the Django programming language site The links included the page that explains the name and the Django Girls project. O2 gave a “+1” (a techie hi-five of sorts) to what O1 sent and added that when the movie came out she recalled thinking of the naming conflict. While O1 placed concentration on correcting my message including “Django Girls Group” vs. “Django Girls Workshop,” O2 at least acknowledged that the naming conflict did exist. I asked that the organizers at least list the two links they’d sent to me in the event description. O1 agreed. I asked a few friends “if you saw a workshop titled “Django Girls Workshop” what would be your immediate thought.” We all had the same initial thought.

Which group of young girls is this workshop targeting? Girls who know Django as a guitarist? Girls who know Django as a programming language? Girls who know Django as more than the pop culture slave icon?

This workshop is being held at Martin Luther King Library. Did anyone think it mattered that a young black girl may be interested in the workshop and not know that Django was a programming language?

Would I be blackballed by the world of DC women programmers because I reacted with my race before my degree (in Computer Science)?

What level of ignorance was I? Ignorant of the programming language? Ignorant of the white culture of great guitarist that I am supposed to know more about than my blackness?

What level of ignorant did the organizers of this event think I was? Ignorant enough to challenge them? Ignorant enough to challenge the idea of at least acknowledging in the description that someone may be as ignorant as I was in that moment?

Does any other culture ever have to think of black people and what they think when perpetuating a thing?

Am I being too overly racially sensitive?

Were these women thinking that I was/am being too overly sensitive and they had no responsibility in thinking of the name of the workshop and black girls? Does the fact that Django Girls already exists as a project make it OK for organizers to believe that this means they don’t need to add links for explanation in their description?

Final thoughts.
After reading through the Django programming language site I felt a little stupid about not knowing it was a programming language. I do not regret asking the organizers to consider that a young girl may see the name and be deterred. The world of computer programming lacks diversity on all levels. If the workshop is truly for young girls it should be considered that a programming language from 2003 that is not being taught in the majority of schools in the DC area may NOT be automatically recognized for what it is above pop culture’s way of dominating Millennial attention spans. I get that O1 could have thought that she owed me or anyone else any further explanation or understanding. For her, it’s a programming language named after a guitarist. She doesn’t have to associate it with anything other than what she knows it for because it’s name is just it’s name. Unfortunately, this is where being black sucks sometimes. I love being black. I do not love the lack of awareness people have surrounding living while black and how this affects everything you experience.

It could be that black life is inaccessible for people like O1. Welp, *shrug*

This post may contain incorrect grammar, typing or spelling errors. Leave me a comment and I’ll correct it OR GET OVER IT!  


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