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Many of you may be wondering why I am writing about the subject of Black Girls Code, and many more may be wondering what the heck is Black Girls Code? Since 1988, National Academy of American Scholars has sponsored merit-based scholarships to African-Americans, blacks, and African-American girls in particular. In fact, the Easley National Scholarships were the first pure, merit-based scholarships that benefitted African-Americans during the Ronald Reagan era.
Therefore, we take an interest in organizations that claim to offer educational services to the African-American college community.
Black Girls Code is more or less a cause that was founded by its African-American woman founder, Ms. Kimberly Bryant. Her exact marital status is unknown. However, it is believed that she is either divorced or never married, and is now raising a daughter alone. Ms Bryant states that she “studied electrical engineering at Vanderbilt University.” It is unclear whether or not she officially graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree.
According to Kimberly Bryant, the stated objective displayed on the website of Black Girls Code is that "By launching Black Girls Code, I hope to provide young and pre-teen girls of color opportunities to learn in-demand skills to at (sic) a time when they are naturally thinking about what they want to be when they grow up."
In writing this article, I will address two specific areas of concern. First, I will address whether or not Black Girls Code is a Scam and whether or not Black Girls Code is a racist promotion. I am not privileged to have any prosecutorial powers, or tangible evidence either proving or disproving that Black Girls Code is a scam, and therefore any statements made hereon are purely a matter of opinion and should not be relied upon as facts.
FundRaising Techniques by Black Girls Code
Black Girls Code relies upon Internet-based promotions via Facebook, Twitter, and many of its corporate partners and/or sponsors to solicit funds based upon the stated mission of helping black-girls learn coding, and specifically programming languages such as Scratch or Ruby on Rails. Generous free publicity by main-stream publications such as the Huffington Post, Scientific American, local San Francisco newspapers, and several other publications have also helped Black Girls Code gather public donations. With this free publicity, and keen race-based marketing, “Black Girls CODE” now claims to have reached 2,000 students through chapters in half a dozen cities, including New York, Memphis, Detroit, San Francisco, Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa. Web-based traffic is no doubt being generated by off-line free publicity, and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter.
As of the date this article was concieved, Black Girls Code claim to have raised a staggering sum of over $100,000.00 in a relatively short period of time. However, few of those dollars (if any) have apparently been re-invested to create a professional desktop or mobile website. What’s more, the amount raised is barely enough to cover an annual teacher’s salary but is plenty for a single person who simply wants to pocket the bulk. Thus far, the only managerial or administrative face that appears to be connected to Black Girls Code is the face of its founder, Kimberly Bryant.
Although fundraising material repeatedly asserts women of color as a target of its mission, my perception is that Black Girls Code uses a race-based theme that largely targets black or African-American girls.
Why Sponsors and Persons are sympathetic to Black Girls Code
From outward appearances and presentation speeches by Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls Code is on a mission to help women of color in general, and black girls in particular, to develop skills that will supposedly help these girls and women compete for jobs and/or work in the Silicon Valley. Ms. Bryant states that black girls do have an interest in programming, but have not been exposed to programming and this results in a lack of presentation of African-American girls in programming.
Naturely, American corporate sponsors and individual donors see the benefit in diversifying their workforce. Helping women of color and African-American girls to program computers, or to become computer scientists is a wonderful idea when supported by the right motives, and a comprehensive business plan. Who can argue about not supporting black, hispanic, or women or color who want to code computers?
As we are aware, mathematics, science, engineering, and technology (a/k/a STEM) have been critical areas of study for every nation on earth. America and Europe have used the so-called STEM areas as important and strategic steps to help them achieve technological superiority over developing and third-world countries. Indeed, the monumental development of the nuclear bomb by Robert Oppenheimer, Albert Einstein, and many other men, was certainly a project of extreme engineering, high-level mathemtics, science, and at least $2 billion worth of science.
Certainly, no one is expecting the efforts of Kimberly Bryant to match the affects of the Manhattan Project. However, Kimberly Bryant does recognize the importance of STEM in reaching her target audience. Kimberly Bryant also is adamant that the The world needs Black Girls who CODE!.
Although I applaud the efforts of Black Girls Code, and I genuinely share the vision that America and the world needs a diverse base of women, girls, and minorities who can represent their respective communities, I notice that there is very little mention in the Black Girls Code marketing literature that mentions, references, or even cites statistics related to the serious issues affecting young African-American men; or, even poor working-class “white-girls.”
Black Girls Code Offers No Tangible or Express Support to African-American boys
Note: Notice how the promoter emphasizes black girls and seems to deliberately omit black boys. Notice how the promoter fails to qualify the omission of other races. Apparently, we must assume that Kimberly Bryant does not believe that the world needs any Black Boys who code, and neither does her organization clearly state an affiliation with an organization that specifically supports Black Boys who code.
The very name of Black Girls Code suggests a racial division or some sort of rebellion. As the name suggests, it should not be any surpise that Black Girls Code offers very little support to African-American boys. My perception of the public literature suggests that the Black Girls Code organization does not even acknowledge the existence of problems affecting the black male youth. Then again, the reader may have a different opinion.
Technical Critique of the website of Black Girls Code
I gathered screen shots of the Black Girls Code website and was surprised that many of the pages seemed to be programmed in an old version of .HTML instead of the more advanced .PHP or HTML5, or Ruby on Rails. For example, these pages of the Black Girls Code website have a .html extension:
I consider it inconsistent for any organization that promotes a subject like Black Girls Code when the principal website of the promoter is programmed in an inferior language that is more than 20 years old. Very few advanced programmers are programming their website in the old version of .HTML
Upon examination of the programming code of the Black Girls Code website, it is apparent that the programmer (whom I suspect to be Kimberly Bryant) used a cookie-cooker HTML authoring tool that is designed for novice or beginner website programmers. Since I did not detect a person as claiming to be the webmaster, I can only assume Kimberly Bryant is the webmaster.
Virtually no professional website coder uses something as basic as a site-builder web programming tool. However, according to Kimberly Bryant the money that her Black Girls Code is soliciting is used for "programming". The fact is that you do not need $100,000 to use a $30.00 site-builder application.
The desktop website of Kimberly Bryant and her Black Girls Code has many other suspicious signs, and tell-tale signs of un-professionalism. It would appear to me that a person promoting a concept like Black Girls Code and mobile app development would at least either pay a website professional to create a custom website, or have the ability to design a professional-looking website that does not use cookie-cutter, site-building, or plain scripts. Having raised over $100,000, in a few short days, certainly Ms. Kimberly Bryant can afford a professional website and an assistant for her Black Girls Code organization.
Technical Critique of the Mobile website of Black Girls Code
The mobile website of Black Girls Code is quite different than the desktop website, except that both websites emphasize the call for DONATIONS more than what has been allegedly produced WITH the DONATIONS.
The mobile website of Black Girls Code appears to be single mobile landing page. The dominate message is the call for DONATIONS. When I last reviewed the page, there were no links to mobile apps or mobile websites designed or published by a single "black girl" that learned from the Black Girls Code organization. Moreover, I tested the mobile website of Black Girls with an Android operating system, and it became almost impossible to leave the mobile website. Perhaps, it was a programming error on the part of the mobile site creator.
It is not uncommon for unscrupulous website promoters to lock a visitor into a website and refuse to release the lock until a favorable action is executed by the site visitor. I have no evidence that the mobile website of Black Girls Code is an unscrupulous website, and neither is it suggested herein. I am merely relaying my personal experience that it was difficult for me to exit the mobile website, and documenting the tactics used by some unscrupulous promoters.
Legal Challenge to Criticism of Black Girls Code
Within days of this article appearing, I received an email message directly from KImberly Bryant challenging my legal right to post public criticism of Black Girls Code. Ms. Bryant claims the article is libelous or slanderous. OMG! If someone can point out what is exactly slanderous or libelous about this Black Girls Code group, please let me know.
I find it quite odd that an alleged non-profit organization would dare challenge the U.S. Constitutional Rights of ANY taxpayer to question the affairs, and/or operations of a non-profit organization.
A legitimate non-profit organization welcome these sort of professional review articles, has nothing to hide, and accepts a public review of its affairs, and finances. Instead of trying to use an attorney to silence, chill, and manipulate coverage of Black Girls Code, I encourage Ms. Kimberly Bryant, and her supporters to address the serious issues raised in this public review, as well as comply with my demands for evidence of compliance with I.R.S. rules.
Summary of Black Girls Code Review
I do not believe in race-based special favors. I do not believe that our standards should be lowered for any person simply because of their gender or race. I believe that true competition and equality is achieved when America moves beyond race in terms of merit and achievement. The central message of the website of Black Girls Code appears to be "Black Girls Code" and constant requests for "donations." I did not detect any form requests for businesses or direct emails for consumers or businesses to reach out to one of the over 2,000 black girls that Black Girls Code has allegedly trained and educated to develop custom websites, or mobile apps.
Based upon the purported $100,000 that has been raised thus far, when is Kimberly Bryant going to publish a public accounting of how the funds were used? Expenses? Salaries? Etc?
When a non-profit organization threatens legal action against tax-payers or reporters for merely questioning an organization's motives or intent, or affairs, then that is a major red-flag.
If Kimberly Bryant is capable of writing a better article, or capable of producing a better video, then she has the ability to articulate a free-speech response. Unfortunatley, I am not willing to apologize for my superior FREE SPEECH, and the attention that it attracts, and neither am I willing to give Kimberly Bryant a free pass simply based upon her race and gender.
Although women's groups, and others may applaud the works or efforts of Black Girls Code, I simply do not believe that we need to be creating more race-based organizations that divide male, and female by race. At what point in time, do we finally stop creating more race-based organizations? If a black boy and black girl both showed up at the foot-steps of a corporation, asking for donations to help each group write computer code, which group should the corporation support? According to Kimberly Bryant, the donation should be given to the Black girls because the "world needs Black Girls who code".
I have no records that Black Girls Code is a scam per se. However, neither have I examined their Form 990 tax returns. Based upon an examination of their marketing literature, statements of Black Girls Code, and the historical reservations of educating African male youth even in times of slavery (preference was provided the Negro (black) girl because she was more susceptible to conrol and manipulation), I have serious doubts and suspicions about the motives and intentions of Black Girls Code. I also have serious reservations about the motives and intentions of the companies that are sponsoring this cause.
One can argue that Black Girls Code is a ploy to marginalize the achievements and aptitude of African-American male youth by proclaiming that The World needs Black Girls that Code. One can be argue that Black Girls Code is a deceptively racist organization by implying that the world DOES NOT need Black boys or African-male youth, or other racial groups, who are trained in science, engineering, technology, or mathematics. One can also argue that Black Girls Code does not like public criticism of its affairs, and will resort to "legal" action to silence or manipulate its critics.
One can argue that Black Girls Code is a legitimate non-profit organization that seeks to support only Black Girls. There are many arguments to choose from supporting or questioning Black Girls Code.
The fact there is no visibile African-American male or legitimate organization like the National Society of Black Engineers listed as a sponsor, or partner, gives me further reason to doubt the intentions of Black Girls code.For more interestng articles written by Ron Thomas, please review our Scholarship Blog: