Design and Exclusion

Audio Montage #1

Amy Choi: So, starting off with his experience of feeling excluded, Matt Mullenweg, CEO and founder of Automattic.

[MUSIC OUT]

Matt Mullenweg: We can probably all think of times we’ve been excluded. You know lots of people in tech grew up not being the cool kids. [laughs] I went to a performing arts high school here in Houston and my sort of area of study was jazz. Jazz is especially – well not especially but like here it’s predominantly black and there were times when like you know – everyone I would play with like after the gig would all go some place and would kind of not subtly like be like all right, bye Matt, you know. I was like ohh. Well – when you say it out loud like ohh I didn’t get invited to this party or something like that it feels almost a little trivial, especially  when compared to other things that people experience. But the feelings that you felt then were very very real.

Brian Oduor: Hi I’m Brian Oduor, I’m the Cap of X. I felt excluded when I took 2 of my non-Yale club members to the Yale Club and I was treated as though I didn’t belong there. I wasn’t let in, my friends who weren’t members were let in. I was black, they were non-black. And you know I just discovered that with such high exclusivity also comes exclusion of some other sorts.

Dungjai Pungauthaikan: Hi I’m Dungjai, parter at Once-Future Office. The last time I felt excluded was actually this past Saturday when I was having dinner with my 2 year old daughter. I’m Thai and she is a mixture of Thai, Taiwanese, Chinese. And a kid ran up to her and asked her, “Where are you from?”

Gus Granger: Hi this is Gus Granger and I feel excluded when I show up for meetings and people will assume that the white person that I arrived with is the owner of the agency as opposed to myself.

Jenn Maer: Hi I’m Jenn Maer, I’m a portfolio director at IDEO. I feel excluded when people assume that I’m straight. Also when they assume that I have kids because I am a woman of a certain age.

Phillip Tiongson: Hi I’m Phillip Tiongson and I’m the principal of Potion. So I grew up in Tennessee in the south and I think that exclusion wasn’t really obvious to me. I didn’t really know exactly when or how I was being excluded and I didn’t really know whether it was because I was Asian or maybe it was just cause I was the smart kid or – it was any number of things that – I just I just knew things weren’t right.

Rebecca Lehrer: Hi I’m Rebecca Lehrer, co-founder and CEO of The Mash-Up Americans. So a time I felt excluded was definitely in business where 65% of my classmates were male. Great guys – I met my husband there. But still there were often activities that were just for men. I like whiskey, I don’t know why I wasn’t invited to whiskey night but it would often just be all the men. And a lot of business school is about meeting people and hanging out so that kind of sucked.

Reena Jana: Hey it’s Reena Jana, Creative Lead for Business Inclusion at Google. A personal story of when I felt excluded was when I went to my parent’s home countries in India and the Philippines for the first time. I grew up in a really non-diverse town in the US. And craved connection to my parents’ countries. Yet landing there and spending time there, I realized I never fully felt included. And feeling excluded from all of those 3 places that were supposed to be home was a really intense experience that definitely shaped my life.

Fatimah Kabba: Hey I’m Fatima Kabba, co-founder and head of design at Minimum. I feel excluded any time someone acts shocked when they hear an ethnic name and makes no effort to learn how to pronounce it.

Maurice Cherry: Hi this is Maurice [Cherry]. A time when I felt excluded has generally been at any sort of professional meet up or professional conference. Even though I know as an attendee I come with the skills and the credentials and the know-how to be there as an active participant. I still end up feeling excluded by other attendees and often time by the people that are hosting the effect.

Ti Chang: Hi my name is Ti [Chang], Designer and Co-Founder of Crave. A time when I felt excluded was pretty much most of my childhood growing up in Georgie. My family moved there when I was 6 years old and we were like one of – out of maybe 3 Asian families in the whole town. So growing up I knew I was pretty different and they treated me differently. So I guess in a way that sort of helped me to kind of go deeper into my introverted world that helped me to become the fabulous person that I am today.

Anne Diaz: Hey this is Anne Diaz, lead experience researcher at Airbnb. Honestly the thing that came to mind first was remembering last year, I went to visit one of my closest friends who lives in Battery Park City in NY in this very very fancy apartment building. And I was visiting and I had left, I went to go do a walk, grab a cup of coffee and I came back. And the doorman wouldn’t let me in. And meanwhile people are passing past the front desk saying hello. He was being very friendly, and he wouldn’t let me in. And I kept saying, “You know look I’m visiting a friend, this is her name this is the apartment that she’s in.” And he said, “Look I don’t see your name on the list.” I had been there for a couple days so I didn’t understand what was going on. And then I realized that he had been looking at the list of people who work for people in the building. So the list of nannies and cleaners and didn’t see my name on that because I was on a list of social visitors. This took about 15 minutes and I just – I remember standing there and seeing people walk into the building and just feeling like wow, he really doesn’t think that I belong here in a setting other than being of service to folks who are here.

Ashleigh Axios: Hi this is Ashleigh Axios from Automattic. As a multi-racial woman I feel excluded every time I’m asked to fill out my race on a form and I have to select “other.”