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Playing: 5: Burnout with Tatiana



Tatiana Mac

5: Burnout with Tatiana

August 28, 2019

In this episode, we talk to Tatiana Mac about burnout through the lens of the events of the React community over the last week.


Tatiana Mac

Tatiana Mac is an American designer who builds inclusive, accessible, and ethical products with thoughtful practices.


Kurt 0:09
Hello, everyone and welcome to Fullstack Health, the podcast exploring mental and physical health in the tech industry. I'm Kurt.

Amberley 0:16
And I'm Amberley. Today we're talking to Tatiana Mac. Normally we close out the show with information about the organization we'll support thank our guest, but because of how important we feel this episode is, we really just want to end with our conversation with Tatiana instead.

Kurt 0:34
We're also changing our approach to how we thank and support our guests for their time, and we'll talk more about that in the episode.

Amberley 0:41
So let's go ahead and dive straight in.

Amberley 0:50
Alright, today we're continuing our conversation about burnout with Tatiana Mac. She posted a twitter thread after we recorded our last episode on burnout that made me feel like we weren't quite done with the topic.

Amberley 1:07
So I'll talk a little bit more about that in a minute. But first, welcome, Tatiana, thank you so much for talking to us today. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Tatiana 1:18
Yes, hi, I'm Tatiana, Mac and I use she/they pronouns. I am from Portland, Oregon. And up until this week, I was a designer. I probably still am a designer, but yeah, professional designer.

Amberley 1:35
Well, thank you for joining us. Again, to go back to a little bit how we, how we ended up here. In a previous episode, we talked a little bit about burnout and quitting when it became sort of too toxic to take. And I saw later a thread that Tatiana had about "not everyone in tech is rich", which of course is true. But it was something that I didn't factor into sharing my experience of, you know, being able to quit in that situation.

Amberley 2:14
And I felt like that left a hole in talking about burnout and how people, not even just in tech how people in general have to deal with burnout in the workplace. And so I wanted to ask Tatiana if she would share her perspective on burnout from that side of it. But then also, after the planning of taping this episode, there's been a lot of other turmoil in the community that we can chat a little bit about here, too, as well, that has resulted in, as you said, you're, I think you're still, you're definitely still a designer.

Amberley 3:00
But, you had a tweet where you have decided to leave the tech community, essentially. And do you want to tell us a little bit more about that too, would love to hear from you.

Tatiana 3:18
Yeah. So the burnout conversation is so ironic because yes, as you said, Amberley, we are, we were slated to talk before the events unfolded over the last couple of days. And I think that the tl;dr, if I were to go back in time, and in my DeLorean, I would probably say that -- thank you for laughing -- I would probably say that, that the burnout is not only something very real in tech and in many industries, but I think there's something unique in tech where because of... I want to identify as a symptom of startup culture and the idea of bootstrapping, which ties into broader systems of like the American dream, and picking yourself up by your own bootstraps. I would say that tech is unique in this burnout space, because we so often will tell ourselves, most importantly, and then each other, that if we can't figure something out, we need to figure out a way to do it, that we can get scrappy, and we can get through anything. And that that ideology is not only supremely unhealthy for our mental health, but it becomes increasingly so when we take into consideration people that are neuro-divergent people who are disabled people who come from racially-minoritized groups, people who are in gender-minoritized groups. So yeah, I, I guess that's what I would have said then and I still stand by that now.

Tatiana 4:58
But this burnout means something else to me now that the burnout beyond the emotional physical burnout that I think we all experienced this week has illustrated to me that there is a level of burnout that is literally active, that it's not just us doing this harm upon ourselves. But that because we've created this culture of "well, just figure it out" we actively use that as a torch, and we gaslight people with it, and then we burn them out of the industry. And that's what I feel like happened to me. Was it my choice to leave? You could say yes, and we don't have enough time to get into free will in this episode, but I do feel as though the events that happened this week, are making... made me feel like I had to leave right now. That my exit was accelerated dramatically by the events that unfolded this week.

Amberley 6:07
Do you... I realize that the events of this past week, and that are continuing... I get the impression for a lot of people that it some of it came up, like, out of nowhere. And I'd like to acknowledge that it is part of something much broader and much longer term that has been surfaced, now, to a lot of people. Would you like to go into any more detail about sort of generally about the broader context of what has, however you want to say it forced you to quit the industry or prompted you to leave the industry?

Tatiana 6:55
Yeah. So I want to acknowledge for any listeners, who don't know what's going on in tech, broadly, but specifically within the React community, I have coined it -- and I think previous events have been coined this as well -- but I've coined it "Reactgate". And thanks to my colleague, Carlos Erickson, we put together a timeline of events that summarizes all of the, essentially tweets, is what it is. A timeline of tweets that happened that led to my departure from tech.

Tatiana 7:34
Dan Abramov and Ken Wheeler's, temporary deactivation of their accounts -- they've since come back. That's what I'm referring to as "Reactgate". All those details are online. And we won't focus too much attention here today on on the minutiae of those events, but in the context of the broader systems at play, something I speak about a lot or have spoken about a lot in the past is the connection between everything that happens in tech with the broader systems. I just gave a talk at Clarity Conference, about systems of systems and examining how the design systems that we create, and the frameworks and the infrastructures are all tethered to the systems that we live in. Whether that be the social systems, the financial systems, the health infrastructure, the way that we categorize people, all of those things are interconnected. And I've been experiencing in my career in tech now, for over 10 years I've worked in tech-adjacent, creative agency and then tech proper. I've experienced a lot of this, the ill-effects of the system, the system being the white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy, and it's a system we all live under whether we acknowledge it or not.

Tatiana 9:00
And that system is sadly one that I wasn't aware of until a couple of years ago when I finally hit this breaking point was like "I need to figure out my racial identity". And I had a racial awakening. And I had this while I was very much like climbing in the tech community. And that's why now that I've seen it, it's like the FedEx arrow. Now that I've seen it, I can't unsee it. And so it's just, my work up until now has been trying to tie together the way that we build these systems within the broader system and illustrating to people why we need to take such great care when we do that.

Amberley 9:42
Would you want to talk anymore about... you're were talking about this breaking point and racial awakening happening as you were climbing the ladder, building your career. Do you want to talk any more about what led up to that?

Tatiana 10:01
Yeah, so speaking of burnout, I did what I call a hard reset on my life. In 2017, I was working at an agency. And I had grown the team from two designers to a cross-interdisciplinary team of designers, frontend developers, writers, content strategists. And agency life has many similarities to startup life. So even though agencies can be long established, they maintain somewhat of a startup model in that they exploit a lot of labor, and they work really long hours. And they are beholden to the financial model of winning new work and doing whatever the client wants them to. And that's maybe a pessimistic or realistic view of the... Let me start over, that might be a pessimistic view of the creative agency culture, but I do think it's somewhat accurate and some agencies do a better job of mitigating those systemic influences and some worsen them, unfortunately.

Tatiana 11:20
So I was working this job and I was working effectively operating as the creative director. But that was not my title. And I finally decided I can't do this anymore. I was working 60-70 hour weeks I was making okay money, probably like, if you're looking at Bay salaries I was making, what like someone who just graduated from college would make as a junior product designer. And just to show that the contrast of finances there and I decided I'm just going to do a hard reset on my life. I'm going to Control-Alt-Delete this, terminate my lease, break up with my boyfriend, quit my job. And then I'm gonna buy one way ticket to Europe, whatever is the cheapest one I can find. And I'm gonna live out of a suitcase for a while. So I did that for about three months. I timed that very badly, by the way, if you're going to do that, do that when the weather's nice, I did it September where the weather is still somewhat nice, but it gets quite cold when you go to Northern Europe. And then by the time November hit, I was in like, you know, Eastern Europe and I'm like, fuck this noise like this is cold.

Tatiana 12:31
Because I'm a weenie. I'm from Portland and we have the most temperate weather. It's like distinctly four seasons. If it snows half an inch like the community turns into complete chaos. Cars, like roll down hills. Anyone from the Midwest is like embarrassed to be here. So yeah, well, I did that hard reset on my life. And that's, that's like my first big experience with burnout.

Amberley 12:58
And so you had the, at that point the financial foundation to be able to say, you know, table flip, I'm done. I'm going to take some time?

Tatiana 13:11
Um, no.

Amberley 13:13
Just in context of this conversation about, you know, burnout and the relation with like a financial foundation.

Tatiana 13:21
Yeah, then I would say I had more money than I do now. If you were looking at debt ratio, I had less debt then, than I do now. And I had a small amount of fluid cash in my savings. But I did not plan for it. I know that there's been some folks that are pretty prominent in the tech industry who have gone on year long hiatuses where they're traveling the world and I get the impression that they plan for it, which is the smart thing to do, maybe. But I did it my way. I mean, I basically maxed out every single credit card.

Tatiana 13:55
By the time I came home -- this is kind of an embarrassing story -- By the time I came home, and flew into SFO, I stayed with one of my best college friends. And she had left for the day, she has to take an hour and a half commute to work, because she lives in, basically, north of East Bay. I don't know if they can still consider that East Bay, but she lives far away. And I decided I can conquer any public transit system. I've been in Europe for three months. So I tried to get myself into the city without her. And I did not I did not have enough fluid cash to like get myself a bus ticket. So I had to do like a cash advance on the last credit card where I had like $20 left to cash advance on that credit card. And that was like my last $20. And so that's to give you a sense of how fluidly financially broke I was. I had to go into like a Chase Bank and it was really weird and sketchy what I was doing. Yeah, so so that that was probably the most broke I had been until... I guess I have fluid cash now. So I've more debt now, but I have fluidity so I can pay for things. But that was, yeah, that was probably the most broke I've ever been.

Kurt 15:16
Uh, yeah. So I kind of wanted to jump back into burnout and not into depth about this, but about the issues from this last week. So Amberley and I are both pretty active in the React community, you could say, and so over the last couple days there, you know, there's been an explosion of essentially... Basically, like you said, all the tweets from everybody about this subject, but how you were tying it in, you know, with your talk "Systems of Systems", that was really interesting to me, and I was hoping we could actually talk a little bit more about some of those higher systems that affect what we do because like, in ways I took part in this whole situation this this weekend at first without even realizing it.

Kurt 16:10
So yeah, it's just like interesting to me and I want to make sure that I can learn you know more about be more aware of this more aware of my actions you know, so like there was a tweet that talked about essentially the intersection of weightlifting, gun culture, you know, some some other things that are considered toxic and especially contribute like towards a mindset of white supremacy. And so for me, I immediately saw this and I saw like weightlifting, you know, mixed in with these different things, and definitely, like, reversed it and made it about myself. And I was like, "Hey, I, you know, talk about fitness. You know, Amberley and I do this podcast like Fullstack Health". You know, it's not it's not to like be "bro-ey", but it's just more or less just trying to spread awareness about like, all styles of Health.

Kurt 17:02
But I definitely flipped the conversation on myself and and, you know, tweeted this whole thread about it and what happened was like a lot of other people did the same thing. And so essentially we drowned out you, we drowned out other people who were trying to have important conversations about this. So I just wanted to know if like, you know, you could spread some light on on how that, you know, whole situation was affected for you, or affected you and if, if at all contributed to like this extreme burnout.

Tatiana 17:32
Yeah, absolutely. I want to step back for a second because we talked about examining systems. And I want to note that the ways in which Nazis specifically, well, fascism, I guess we can start at the beginning with Benito Mussolini, and a lot of fascist techniques. I wish more people would examine fascist propaganda and how information and misinformation and gaslighting tactics were used during the events that led up to the Holocaust, because it is, it gets so meta. I'll try to tell a short story but I was... before, after I gave my talk at Clarity, I was hanging out with a really cool group of people where I was kind of like, "Is this my life? Am I hanging out with Charlie Gerard right now like, this is wild", but, trying not to, trying to be cool and not fangirl, basically. But it was a really awesome group of people. And we were talking about another thing that also was very toxic, which was the 30 to 50 feral hogs.

Tatiana 18:46
Again, it is a situation where in something that seems so innocuous, and the feral hogs thing has no tethering to a childhood game. So it's it's one level removed from bullshit, I guess. But the 30 to 50 feral hogs for those of you don't know, some dude tweeted something about, oh, if 30 to 50 feral hogs came running into his yard, how would he, like use an assault weapon to make sure that he shot the hogs and not his kids? That's probably a poor paraphrase, but something to that effect. And of course, as the tech community does, we took that and we made it into jokes, made it into memes, someone made it into a game on Codepen, like, there were there... it was to the point where I think everyone was muting, like "30 to 50" if they were sick of it.

Tatiana 19:40
I pointed out that 30 to 50 totals to 80, and 30 to 50 is a really weird and arbitrary number, right? Like, I think we can all agree on that fact.

Kurt 19:51

Tatiana 19:52
Yeah. Right. Like you would maybe you would say like, oh 50+ or like 30 to 40, 40 to 50, but 30 to 50 just seems so weirdly specific, but also very easy to say, no, that seems normal, but it adds up to eight. And you all may know this, but eight is a hateful number, because it usually was used in the context of eight eight, which, the eighth letter of the alphabet is HH, which stands for Heil Hitler.

Tatiana 20:24
So often, when you see white supremacists on 4chan, or in my case, I will see people in the street who are proud boys who have eight-eight tattoos, that comes from somewhere. Now, I studied math. I know the number eight is abundant. I know the number 88 is abundant. Many people were born in that year so maybe their Twitter handles have the number 88 and it's all innocuous and fine.

Tatiana 20:54
But I feel like this is how that happens. That there is always plausible deniability that it's racism. There always will be. But that is part of their communications strategy is to make it so that well intentioned white people which needs to be an abbreviation at this point WIWP are out here being like, "but I do this" and to pick on you, Kurt, that's what you did, right? Like you were like, "but wait a minute, like I do these things. I'm not a racist".

Kurt 21:25

Tatiana 21:26
And that's why my work is in. We need to stop using empirical terms like "racist" or "not racist" or "white supremacist" or "not white supremacist". I don't give a fuck if you're and I don't know if you're allowed to cuss on this podcast.

Kurt 21:42
You can now.

Amberley 21:43
Let's just say yeah.

Tatiana 21:46
I don't, I don't care. You can cut this however, I get, I don't care if you're a white supremacist or not. Because what does that label even mean? It doesn't really just as just as meaningless as all of our titles are, being called a white supremacist or racist doesn't do anything. Because here are the two scenarios. If you are a white supremacist and you're actively doing white supremacist things you wear that label with as pridefully as you can. If you're out here and you're quote unquote, not a white supremacist and you're doing white supremacist things, that label means something bad to you. But regardless of that, the white supremacist and the not white supremacist could be doing the same thing for harm.

Tatiana 22:29
And when it's something as innocuous as 30 to 50, or putting up the okay sign, how am I to know which you are? I don't know. And you could lie to me. So all I can see is your actions and your words. So that is why I value people on their actions and on their words.

Kurt 22:51
Yeah, and another thing I would like to mention is that it puts the burden onto you as well, like now you have to you know, either assume one way or the other, or do the work to figure it out, right? And you know, that in itself is a problem as well.

Tatiana 23:06
Exactly. And many of those times these are not... On Twitter, I'm at home. It's fine. But when I'm out in the street, and someone throws that hand gesture up, I am worried for my life. And even on Twitter, I'm still worried for my life because I don't know how many of these people that are like so nonchalantly throwing out about 4chan and 8chan and they're like, "oh, you're being hoaxed by them." How many of those people have had their address listed on those websites so that people can come dox them? That is a very real thing that happens, like....

Kurt 23:43
Oh it happens all the time.

Tatiana 23:45
Yes, but not to the people that are like identifying it as a hoax. I don't see any white on white crime. Not not in this context. So it's, it's really really, really terrifying to see that hand gesture, and then on Twitter even when it's a little yellow, cartoony, cute emoji, it's triggering. Because I see that and I think every time I see that, I'm worried, I'm worried if that person's going to hurt me.

Amberley 24:18
I will admit that, I know now in reading through a lot of the history that, how the okay sign was sort of co-opted. But I, I don't remember when I became aware of it initially, but it was like maybe a year plus ago. So for someone, and by someone, I mean, me, or someone like me, who, who didn't know until later, and perhaps that's not perhaps maybe I should have known earlier. How, how do I help? Like, how do I take responsibility for that and I don't use that emoji anymore. I used to use that emoji a lot for like, "Okay, cool. Sounds good." And I've had to train that out as myself, after becoming aware of the fact of how it's been co-opted. But aside from not using it anymore, which is a given, what... what's a constructive response? Like? And because I know, I know that you've explained how, you know, you take these seemingly seemingly innocuous things, and so people will continue to use them and that's a way of spreading it. What can people who don't intend to do harm, do?

Tatiana 25:44
I think acknowledging that you made a mistake, and when you were talking about not knowing it's like we can't know everything in the world, that's not possible. And it's so meta because this is the very problem with the way we educate new developers, is that we write these tutorials based on assumptions of their baseline knowledge.

Tatiana 26:07
I remember when I was trying to figure out a static site generator, and I'm an okay developer, I'm, I, I'm not a, I'm not a great developer, I'm an okay developer. And I'm reading through this documentation and they're just presuming a lot of knowledge about it. And I think that that's a lot of the problem with these conversations is that I, being someone who's on the receiving end of a lot of issues around race and being multiply marginalized. I forget how I have to change my vocabulary how I described it to my friend, is that sometimes being a person of color and having these discussions with white friends, is like being, is like talking to a toddler that's not yet formulated communication skills and having a PhD and constantly having to adjust your vocabulary so that the toddler understands.

Tatiana 27:13
And it's really hard because then what you have to do is you then have to teach the toddler all of the words, how to use them how to construct sentences, and you do it over and over and over every single day for the rest of your life. When, unfortunately, these people aren't toddlers, they're adults. They could be doing the work to advance their own vocabularies to be having richer sentences and to be had to be a capable of having advanced thought we can advance this conversation on race, because y'all don't even know the vocabulary.

Tatiana 27:49
And so I think that where people can do more work, white people, and all people really but especially white people, is to read more to surround yourself with information around this discussion about race. Like, you have to choose to lean into it. I have to actively lean out of it that like in order to not chronically be thinking about race, like, I have to dig into the deepest depths of like the most inane Netflix show, to give myself a break from thinking about this stuff, because it harms me every day. You have to choose to want to do the work because that's a luxury you have.

Tatiana 28:28
It's a privilege to opt out. Yep. It's a, it's not even, It's not a privilege to opt out. It's that you are intrinsically already opted out of the email list and you have to choose to opt in. Because you could live the rest of your entire life, having absolutely no... doing no work. You could live a fine life doing no work. I maybe could too because I have relative privilege being an Asian woman and being part of the model minority myth. I could probably have an okay life increasingly less so because I have this chronic fear of being not a natural born citizen, that my citizenship will be revoked. But I have a lot more privilege than my darker brown and black friends for sure.

Amberley 29:16
Yeah. And on that, also, I just want to thank you for, you know, all the work that you've done on Twitter, to share this type of thinking about what people what people can do, especially the other day, you shared a thread on the books people can start with to self-educate and learn. And, you know, you don't have to do that, but I appreciate you doing that.

Tatiana 29:43
Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, I mean, I, the thing that I have to acknowledge is that so many people in this situation, deactivated their Twitter accounts after it happened. And I'll start with, I understand, especially those folks that did have over 20,000 followers. I mean, I don't even know how many Dan has. Hundreds, I think, of thousands. I have like, I don't know, 10s of thousands, I guess at this point. It is, notifications are a wreck. If you don't use an app that suppresses likes, your notifications just become like a monstrosity. It's more than a full time job to manage. And you compound that with mental health. You're just getting like inundated with, for me, like hateful comments, like people are writing about, like, just really hateful things about the fact that I have my gender pronouns and that they're wrong. You know, like, it's, it's everything I'm being told that no one wants to fuck me, you know, like, these are the things that show up in my mentions and are getting thrown into my, my responses and it's very taxing on mental health, so I get them deactivating their accounts, I really do. And I support anyone doing what they need to do to set boundaries.

Tatiana 31:08
I chose not to deactivate my Twitter account for a couple of reasons. One of them is that I don't, I didn't want the message that went out about Reactgate to be controlled by everyone else. Because I don't know if you all read the Reddit thread. And then like, "why is JS mad", the the parody account? Those are, those are them controlling the message. And guess who writes those messages? White people. So they don't have the vocabulary to have this discussion. Even if they had the best of intentions and we're trying to help, they don't have the vocabulary. And in those situations, I'm not sure that they did have the best of intentions.

Tatiana 31:45
So I had to stay to, to basically control my own message and to be as factual as I could about recounting exactly what went down and also I, I need to be on Twitter, to protect myself to know what's going on, if I'm getting death threats. And also it's how like, it's how I'm getting help like how people are helping to financially provide support or to stay connected with people, like so many people have sent me lovely messages on Twitter, and apologies and promises to do better. Like, they don't do a lot but they do something. So I don't feel like I had the choice to deactivate even with all of my mental health challenges that I experience. I just didn't feel like it was a choice that I could make.

Kurt 32:44
So something interesting that you mentioned was how actually, even though Twitter causes like a lot of issues for you as well, you also have to stay on, like you use it, you said for like financial support, which is really interesting and kind of brought something up for Amberley and myself, which is we like to offer donations for, for people to come on to the podcast, kind of like our way of paying them for their time. But really, it's a very, I guess, like biased or ignorant way of doing it because it makes the assumption that everybody's financially stable enough that instead of actually wanting money for their time that they would love for us to like, donate it to some charity. And that just brings back, you know, to your initial tweet about how not everybody in tech, you know, is like living this cushy life and can afford to just like leave a job when they have, you know, fight, like burnout, you know, so I was just curious if you could talk a little bit more about that.

Tatiana 33:44
Yeah, I think that's great one that you all I don't like to give out "ally cookies". So this isn't really a cookie. Don't eat it.

Tatiana 33:54
But, I think it's great that you all are acknowledging the fact that this is something that you did and it is something that you now will change now that you know better. And I think that's the big thing with this whole conversation at large is that it never goes as badly if you acknowledge your mistake and own up to it, and apologize sincerely and commit to doing better, as if when you double down. I think we've all seen enough celebrities like to divert this conversation a bit. I think we've seen enough celebrities who have like, done something awful and then double down, sometimes triple down, sometimes quadruple down. I have to pick on Rebel Wilson. She's very good at that. Same with Alyssa Milano, like those two white ladies like mastered the quintuple down. I'm like you go for it. Like I will learn as many ordinal numbers as I need to because you're septupling down at this point. But that aside, yeah. So I appreciate that you're acknowledging that yes, absolutely would be a privilege to just say donate my money.

Tatiana 35:01
And I stayed on Twitter financially... I mean, it's it's it's twofold. It can be many things. One aspect is yes, I do need to still make money, I still need to honor the contracts that I've already said. And I do need time and financial support in order to truly transition into whatever I do next. And being visible on Twitter and having access to people that are willing to support me in those ways is critical to my survival, financially. So I choose to do that, but it comes at a cost. And that cost is definitely my mental health and well being. I'm learning new ways to set better boundaries with Twitter, using platforms that don't... using platforms that minimize the harm as much as possible is one place that I start, and also limiting the amount of time I spend on it.

Tatiana 35:58
Obviously this week, I spent more time on Twitter than ever wanted to. But the other aspect is like, community. That as much as I am, you know, leaving tech in a lot of ways, you can't just leave people that have become your colleagues and friends that instantaneously. And I don't know that I want to. So while I might be leaving tech, philosophically, I still have many friends that will continue to work on it. And I want to be able to support my friends and to observe tech from a different standpoint, maybe. But yeah, the financial aspect is really real that I you know, the the tweet that we initially talked about where I said, not everyone is rich in tech like, that was selfish for me too, because I'm definitely not rich. And I know how my life looks. I am literally going to fly to Helsinki today to do a talk, but people don't realize context for everything right that like, yes, I'm giving this talk and they'll give me a generous honorarium for it and they're paying for my travel. But that, you know, when you're there the food, you have to buy food, and you often do things socially. So then you're going out and I could just stay in my hotel room, I guess that's been paid for and only eat meals that they've covered for me. But that's a weird. I mean, one, I think that's kind of sociopathic and weird and two, like, I want to be able to travel and enjoy myself. And I also recognize that that looks a certain way to people on Twitter, particularly people, of which I'm learning how many more there are, who want to tear me down and who want to show the ways in which I'm a hypocrite.

Amberley 37:36
Well, coming to the to the end of our time here, one thing that I would love to ask you if you'd like to answer is whether or not... as you've said, you have contracts and things to fulfill through 2020. My question would be is, is there anything the tech community, the React community, could do at this point to prove that we deserve to have you in this community because, you know, for me, finding you, you've been a vital and vibrant voice. And I've learned a lot. And thank you for that, from following you, and I appreciate that a lot. Is there anything, anything that we could do as a community to prove that to you?

Tatiana 38:29
I don't want it to be proved to me, I want it to be proved to all of the marginalized people that are still hanging on in this industry that don't have the choice to leave. As much as it was hard for me to make that choice. It was still a choice. And I didn't get to choose that I had the choice -- this is getting meta -- but I didn't get to choose that I had the choice but I at the end of the day have the choice to leave and many people, whether it be because they have chronic illness, and they need to maintain their health care as someone in my life who I care, one of my best friends and you know, that's the case and whether it be because they have children, or whatever circumstances, you know, or they're caring for someone, whatever circumstances that are beyond their control. I have a lot of privilege in this arena because I'm single, I don't have any children. My parents don't depend on me financially. I don't have chronic illness. So it's, I'm fine. I mean, am I saying that I will never ever come back to tech? No, I don't believe in making absolutely declarative statements that someone can screenshot later and use against me. But I think it's about proving to the people that are still there. And the ways to do that are to first and foremost start with yourself into unpack all of the institutionalized racism, able-ism, anti-queerness, anti-disabled, or I already said it ableist, but I think one of the ways in which to do that is to unpack the internalized racism, able-ism, anti-queerness anti-transness, anti-muslim, all of the "anti-" bigotry that is packed into everyone because it's been systemically so. That whether we realize it or not, that's the society that we operate in. And it takes white people actively. And I say white people plus abled people plus non-Muslim people plus, non, you know, you got the idea. Basically, anyone that's in a centered, majority overrepresented group has to make the opt-in choice. I used to work in email so I like this analogy is that you will have to choose to find the email list to subscribe to, and then you have to subscribe to it. You have to read it and then you have to go and do something about it. For the rest of us. We've been auto opted in to this and we are spammed with these emails daily. Day in and day out. And some of us have enough privilege as I did before I realized these things to kind of get those emails and just send them straight to spam. But we don't have that, that that privilege for long, because eventually for most of us catches up with us. But for all of you who got to choose, it's about opting in. And that starts with reading books. I did a Twitter thread that had a bunch of books that folks can start reading that mostly centered around race reading, and understanding the stories and the lives of people with disabilities. People who are immigrants, people who live in poverty, though, you know, people who are not white, all of those things are things that we need to do to educate ourselves better because I don't know how many times I saw this week people are like, why does, why does tech have to be about people?

Kurt 41:56

Tatiana 41:58
Who are we making this technology for if not for people? So we don't understand people and their lived experiences and we and we isolate them when they share them because they're different than our own. We will constantly make tech that injures and harms and kills people that aren't making the tech alongside of us. And that's why in accessibility we say nothing about us without without us. We need to have those people in positions of power making the tech because they have all that lived experiences. And we also need to not put that burden solely on them. That what people need to do and people like Dan, Dan has spoken out and he said, like the React community has no room for hate. And I love that. And I see that they're examining their buried code of conduct, which is essentially a glorified inherited Code of Conduct from Facebook, which I'm sorry, but I don't know how much I trust a Facebook Code of Conduct at this point, given the conduct that they've shown. They need to write a better code of conduct for react 1,000% as do many sub communities, it's not just, I'll throw a bone, not all white people, not all tech frameworks, sure, but you all can write codes of conduct and learn from each other, and then reinforce those codes of conduct. And that's not just in, in, in settings where we feel legally or morally obliged, like conferences, codes of conduct need to exist in the workplace, they need to exist in communities, they need to exist, you know, on GitHub within open source projects that we work on. And then the reinforcement can't just happen in those spaces. The reinforcement needs to be a cultural reinforcement that people like you two who are in the React community need to stand up when you get you know included in this idea of weightlifting and and making fun of intersectionality you need to have the vocabulary to say, hey, you're appropriating vocabulary that has been used by minoritized people to to speak about their real experiences and being at the intersection of multiple, multiple aspects of marginalization. Here's why that's a problem. I don't stand for that. And then you need to have actions. If that person's in the community and they are getting paid for their work, if they're your co-worker, if they're part of yeah, like an open source community, if they're part of any sort of community, if they're invited to speak, then you need to take action and not give them the platform, whether that's their, them being on a conference stage or them being able to contribute to an open source community, or whether that's them being part of your team. You need to take away the amplification of what they're saying, and you need to take away their money because we all live under capitalism, in one way or another, even a socialist countries have, are largely impacted by capitalism. So you need to take away their money and give it to someone else who is working hard to create a inclusive and kind and caring and welcoming community. And typically, those are the people that have been most hurt in the communities that exists today. So those are the multiply marginalized, black indigenous people of color who are non-binary, who are trans, who are queer, who are immigrants, who are Muslim, those are the people that are doing so much of the emotional labor, not getting paid as well not having their projects funded, not getting the promotions, not getting the jobs, not getting the opportunities.

Tatiana 45:34
Earlier today, I tweeted that like, that talent is evenly distributed across the world, but opportunity is not. So I think that the call to action is to use your privilege to find ways to take opportunities from hateful people, or I should say people doing actively hateful things and saying hateful things and then giving them to people that are doing kind inclusive, welcoming things. That's where the work is.

Kurt 46:01
Yeah, I mean, again, I just want to say like, you know, even this like is like answering just answering this question is like more, you know, as you're talking about the email and like you can't put it to spam, more emotional labor. And so I just, I just wanted to say again, like, thank you so much even for taking the time to talk to us.

Amberley 46:19
Yeah, we really appreciate it. Before we wrap up here, is there anything that you would like to say additionally, before we close out?

Tatiana 46:28
To close out? Yes, thank you. I love reading works by black scholars, specifically, black feminist women scholars. But there is a quote by a black theologian, who's a man, who I want to share with you all today, because I think it's very apt is that "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

Tatiana 47:04
I think that the only thing that I would add to that because I think it's powerful on its own, is that it's quite kind that Desmond Tutu here has said that the elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, because I think what's actually happening is quite more gory than that. The elephant is stomping out massive amounts of mice, that we have carcasses of mice all over our community. And yet we look to the elephant and say, "Is your toe okay? Are you, are you okay? I think you stubbed your toe." I think I would leave it at that.

Amberley 47:39
Well, thank you for sharing that for us to end on. And, again, can't tell you how much we appreciate you sharing your perspective with us.

Tatiana 47:50
Thank you for having me. I think that there was a small part of me that wondered before we entered this today, I was like are they going to bail on our podcast cause of everything that went down? They might. So I'm glad that you all chose to do it anyway, thank you.

Amberley 48:07
I was actually worried about the same for you. And it's it's, as you've said earlier, I just want to acknowledge how hard it is to continue to show up in these conversations. So I'm glad that we that we all showed up for this conversation.

Tatiana 48:24
And now we need to show up tomorrow to have these conversations again and again.

Kurt 48:29
Absolutely. And yeah, I just hope a lot of people get to listen to this and then they can also start showing up as well.