The Future of the Intersection of PoC and F/LOSS
F/LOSS is hard. Working with PoC in a space that hasn't optimized for us is even harder. We have a question - the community needs to put actual effort into taking it on.
Kat proposed a question that gave me a bit of pause (thanks Josh for highlighting it). I figured for a question with this kind of weight deserved a longer space.
The F/LOSS space gave me my stay into technology. I started on Windows ME because that's what came on the Compaq my mom bought. But when I couldn't update the system past Vista and it begun to really slow down, Ubuntu was there - a bastion project that shows what Open Source software can do when we have people and companies backing it. I have a lot of faith in the power of free and open source software. But there's a reckoning that needs to occur.
Free software is defined by the Free Software Foundation as "software that gives you the user the freedom to share, study and modify it". It's commonly described as "free as in speech". Open source software's a bit more defined as code that's licensed as freely available, permitting anti-discriminatory distribution, providing non-encumbering and non-specific application to the software being used and technology neutral. With these definitions, you'd think that organizations like these and their backers would be very open and willing to take on people who are conventionally pushed out of places that gate-keep knowledge and resources.
I rarely had problems online until people saw the face associated with it. I've gotten unlogged comments on FreeNode about people being "shocked" that I'm Black. On the flip side, I felt safer and more comfortable seeing and working with very welcoming people (hey Paul!) that kept me in the space. This does NOT excuse or dismiss Richard Stallman's explicit endorsement of misogyny, pedophilia and sexual assault. If the FSF wants to continue a notion of being a safe intersectional space, RMS has to be removed. Full stop.
I don't know much about issues and complications within the OSI but no place is perfect or devoid of things if they haven't been discussed or addressed. It'd make sense for them to employ a company culture team to weed it out in advance.
Where Does the Future of F/LOSS stand?
To shortly answer Kat's question, I think that the FSF itself does not stand to help, support or reach out to marginalized people in the ways that they claim to by endorsing and employing people who actively cannot live to those values. The concept of free software isn't a novel one either, there's facets of it that can be seen in indigenous cultures (the Taíno and Arawak immediately come to mind). But as they stand, they force a lifestyle and behavior that people of color (myself included, tbh) can find extremely difficult to uphold and be ostracized for attempting to do so. As someone who does his very best to uphold these ideals because I believe that they can put people first, I don't think that we'll have the best chance to continue the crusade against hyper-proprietary solutions or combating bigoted people if we maintain the status quo. It's not sustainable.
No, Seriously, What Do We Do?
We got amazing people laying out how the visible vanguards of movements are actively harming people in the space (if not directly then by endorsement and support of those who do - it's called being an accomplice). I'm thinking that it's nigh time that we actually give up on things of the GNU. Our endorsement and support is going to further give them a head count that, in this space, is implicit power. And I refuse to give them that knowing that this behavior has been going on for more than a decade.
I think it'd been more advantageous for people of color who have the resources, capability and time to begin divesting from these systems and look to build our own. Greenfield projects are difficult but they can yield more beneficial in the end than spending more energy attempting to refactor a system that's actively resisting changes to grow. This is my personal (unwavering for now) stance about this and that's the answer I'll give in response to Kat's question.
What are You Going to Do?
The larger community also seems very willing to defend and support people who perpetuate these behaviors to no end. There's threads on THREADS about this on Twitter. Sarah Mei has been telling y'all for the longest. The stuff I'm spending time and energy on is not something I'd want to attribute to abuse and I'd like to optimize to reduce. And I don't have the energy to explain to people anymore why they need to go back and read what people have said in the past.
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