No, I Am Not Lost

No, I Am Not Lost

A Black woman’s experience in the Stanford Computer Science Major
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As a Black female CS major at Stanford, I hate walking around the halls of the Gates Computer Science Building.

It’s not because the Gates interior reminds me of 1970 even though it was built in the 1990s. It’s not because of the memories I have of CS107's Heap Allocator turning me into a nocturnal Gates inhabitant. It’s because inevitably, whenever I walk into Gates, I always get hit with the four words every non-tech minority thinks whenever they see an unfamiliar minority in a tech space:

“Hey, are you lost?”

I turn around. Today the culprit is an amicable looking Indian girl I’ve seen from class. Yesterday it was a very concerned white guy. “No, I am not lost.” I know exactly where I am going — to office hours.

Note to self, new start-up idea: sell t-shirts for black folk in tech with the words “No, I am not lost” in bold on the front.

But seriously, sometimes I make it a game for myself: count how many purposeful steps I can take towards my Gates destination before someone questions why I am there.

Elsewhere on campus, the feeling of tech exclusion pronounces itself in less overt but more disturbing ways. Stereotype threat and feelings of isolation are huge obstacles many students of color face in my major. There is still a palpable feeling in computer science here that minorities are inferior, and therefore finding lab and study partners in homogenous computer science classes proves difficult. To deflect against the constant micro-aggressions, my fellow Black female computer science friends and I have learned to align our class schedules so that we always have a lab partner or someone to study with, especially in the CS major's core courses.

These issues are further exacerbated by classes which do not yet understand that tech has a diversity problem. It is no secret that CS107, the introductory “weed out” class of the Stanford computer science major, hemorrhages out computer science hopefuls with abandon. Too often, however, this means that by week six in the ten week quarter system, the class enrollment makeup drops dramatically from being optimistically diverse to being exclusively male, white and Asian.

Being a woman of color who has graduated CS107 is almost like being a unicorn, and that’s pretty f'd up.

Stanford University Computer Science Major Demographics

credit: Jorge Cueto

All that said, I do enjoy being a computer scientist at Stanford. I love learning how to become self-sufficient when it comes to building out my ideas into actual products and apps. In addition, the race and gender demographic for computer science majors here appears to be slightly more balanced compared to peer institutions. And the Stanford name comes with a ridiculous amount of power. It is a luxury to be able to drop it in conversations whenever I need to immediately be taken seriously. It is my hope that, with some of the projects I am working on this summer, I can put that power to good use by creating more spaces for minorities in technology to thrive and feel welcome.

In the mean time though, if you see me in Gates, ask me about the newest javascript framework I'm building an app in or about what I'm teaching my students this week in my CS106a section.

Just don't ask me if I'm lost.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.
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In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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10 Men That Will Change Your Mind About Hair Loss

It happens to the best of them, but these men look better with a bald head!

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Hair loss is such a common thing for men to face as they get older. As a society, I feel as though we typically frown upon it. This is probably the case due to the amount of hair transplants and hair products to stop hair loss and start hair growth. However, there are some men who can make the hair loss turn into a great thing because of how good they look bald. So, I have found the best looking bald men (in my opinion, of course!) and put them all into one list for your viewing pleasure!

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1. Will Smith

First of all, I am extremely bias because I believe that Will Smith is the best looking man on this planet (even my boyfriend knows this!). Second, Will Smith is not always bald, but when he is, he tops the list of all bald men. In his role of Deadshot in Suicide Squad, Will was rocking the bald cut and looked absolutely amazing while doing so. 10/10, would recommend.

Will Smith: Deadshothttps://batman-news.com/2016/12/13/deadshot-movie-...


2. Idris Elba

Once again, another man that is not usually bald but when he is, he sure does kill. Idris Elba is such a great looking man and has an even better sounding voice. What is better than a man with an accent that looks good bald?


Idris Elbaidris-elba-hairstyle


3. Dwayne Johnson

We all know that the Rock is a favorite among women. He is tall, handsome and has the big strong muscles. Not to mention he plays the sweet father role well and has a great sense of humor. But the most impressive part of him is that he can be bald and pull it off VERY well!

Dwayne Johnsonhttps://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/f...


4. Morris Chestnut

Such a beautiful man with an amazing smile. I am not sure how someone could not love the appearance of Morris Chestnut. Did I mention his smile?

Morris Chestnutmorris-chestnut


5. Shemar Moore

Another man with no hair that steals the show with a great smile is Shemar Moore. His bald head stands out in a great way and I think it would be impossible to have this type of list without Shemar on it.

Shemar Moorehttps://mymajicdc.com/3632803/see-the-photo-that-h...

6. Kobe Bryant

Not only is the MVP of basketball but he might be the MVM (most valued man) of the bald men out there! Once again, another beautiful smile. Not to mention, he's extremely talented.

Kobe Bryanthttps://www.kcra.com/article/nba-legend-kobe-bryan...


7. LL Cool J

A singer and an actor, representing the best of the bald men out there. Such a beautiful smile (are we seeing a trend here?) and an even better looking man. Could not leave LL Cool J off of this list either.

LL Cool Jhttp://comicbook.com/2014/10/29/ll-cool-j-says-hes...


8. Tyrese Gibson

Another man who can definitely give a positive view on being bald and losing your hair, Tyrese has been doing the look justice for a long time now.

Tyrese Gibsonhttps://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/tyrese-gibs...


9. Vin Diesel

We all know him from the Fast and the Furious, but let's recognize that he is a great looking man, rocking the bald head look. We love the movies and we love him. Go you Vin Diesel, keep rocking out and winning over all of our hearts (and eyes!).

Vin Dieselhttps://pagesix.com/2017/12/29/vin-diesel-named-fo...


10. Common

What common lacks in hair on his head he gains in facial hair. I swear he has one of the best beards ever. Also, those freckles? Hello? So cute!

Commonhttps://www.grammy.com/grammys/news/common-becomes...


Hopefully, after seeing as these wonderful men absolutely slaying the bald look, you'll think twice about hair loss (whether you're a man or a woman!).

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