Facebook Offers a Million-Dollar Solution to Fix Its ‘Black People Problem’

Illustration for article titled Facebook Offers a Million-Dollar Solution to Fix Its ‘Black People Problem’
Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Last week, former Facebook manager Mark Luckie dropped a 2,500 word sermon excoriating his previous employer for its “black people problem.”


Initially released internally as a “fuck you” of sorts prior to his departure, Luckie identified a myriad of ways in which Facebook has condoned, fostered and demonstrated discriminatory practices and behavior within the workplace. He writes:

Facebook’s disenfranchisement of black people on the platform mirrors the marginalization of its black employees. In my time at the company, I’ve heard far too many stories from black employees of a colleague or manager calling them “hostile” or “aggressive” for simply sharing their thoughts in a manner not dissimilar from their nonblack team members. A few black employees have reported being specifically dissuaded by their managers from becoming active in the [internal] Black@ group or doing “Black stuff,” even if it happens outside of work hours. Too many black employees can recount stories of being aggressively accosted by campus security beyond what was necessary.

On a personal note, at least two or three times a day, every day, a colleague at MPK [Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park] will look directly at me and tap or hold their wallet or shove their hands down their pocket to clutch it tightly until I pass. The frequency is even higher when walking through Classic campus or Building 20. To feel like an oddity at your own place of employment because of the color of your skin while passing posters reminding you to be your authentic self feels in itself inauthentic.

He also had plenty to say about how Facebook both mistreats and exploits its black user base:

Black people are finding that their attempts to create “safe spaces” on Facebook for conversation among themselves are being derailed by the platform itself. Non-black people are reporting what are meant to be positive efforts as hate speech, despite them often not violating Facebook’s terms of service. Their content is removed without notice. Accounts are suspended indefinitely .

When these rulings are upheld with little recourse, it upends the communities of color Facebook claims to be supporting. It decreases the likelihood that people will continue to engage at the same level on our platform. Even high-profile figures who are plagued with these issues sometimes have to wait until it’s a major press story for it to be addressed.

In a subsequent interview with New York Magazine, Luckie expounded even further about the sacrifices required to work for Zuckerberg’s hundred-billion-dollar empire:

For a lot of black people, Facebook would present a great opportunity, but they just don’t want to move to the Bay Area. They don’t want to be the only black person in the room. They don’t want to be the only black person in their neighborhood.


In response, Facebook—last valued at $138 billion—dug in their couch and invested a cool million dollars into CodePath.org, “a nonprofit that provides computer science education to female and minority students at universities around the country,” according to CNBC.

“CodePath.org is doing something unique—by offering free, remote computer science courses that will serve from freshman to senior year,” Christian McIntire, Facebook’s lead for computer science education initiatives, told CNBC. “They have the potential to help build one of the largest pipelines of high-performing, diverse software engineers for the industry.”


Since its launch three years ago, CodePath.org has helped approximately 1,700 students across 30 “high diversity” universities, such as Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Jackson State University.

According to CodePath.org founder Michael Ellison, Facebook’s investment will allow his company to expand from serving 400 students to over 1,000 each semester.


“The funding will also allow us to create courses that target underrepresented minorities and women during their freshman year and expand our number of college partners,” Ellison wrote in statement.


Hold up. Then how exactly will these funds be allocated?

CodePath.org notes that each course is taught over a 12-week period for academic credit. Then afterward, students are matched with CodePath.org’s internship partners—such as Facebook—though there is no guarantee that students will be accepted into these internships.


But Luckie isn’t buying it.

“Facebook needs to step up and talk about the things it’s doing internally to create an inclusive space rather than just fixing the pipeline,” Luckie told CNBC. “What my post called them out on is not being addressed so far, and the lack of response from non-black executives is very telling of the problems I outlined.”


Pretty much.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.



No one listens to the troubles of the college-educated Black professional classes. From lack of entry-level opportunity to the ghetto-ization of certain positions to the lack of mobility, it’s still an old-boys club. Except the old boys are now young whites (male and female). Instead of the former excuse of a lack of qualified candidates, they know rationalize active participation in racial employment discrimination as lack of very specific technical experience (while hand-selecting those project participants). HR holds minority employees to the letter of the rules then dismiss them for any small infraction; meanwhile Jenny is off cuz her cat died and Mike has a ‘smell allergy’ so no one can wear perfume or scented shampoo.

Mark Luckie is a warrior for calling out the everyday practices of this behemoth but I can tell you that every racist HR Manager and supervising manager has noted his name. He joins Colin Kaepernick in career hell.