Dear Designer

The 2020 Guide for White Men in Tech

How to use centuries of unfair advantage to make the world a more equal place

Mike Monteiro
Modus
Published in
8 min readJan 30, 2020

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Illustration: Eugenia Mello

WWelcome back, gentlemen. Last year’s guide to white men in tech was one of the most popular articles on this platform, so I’m excited about this year’s. We assume the popularity was for several reasons: The title had a number in it, it was addressed to white men, it was written by a white man, and it was about tech. That’s a Medium grand slam!

(I’m kidding. There was no guide last year. Roll with it.)

Look, I’m walking a tightrope here, kids. First of all, let’s acknowledge, as white men, the privilege we have in society in general and in tech specifically. Then let’s acknowledge that you get that privilege whether you want it or not. You can be super conscious of your privileged place in the world, you can disavow it, you can attempt to cast it off, you can rail against it. And I encourage you to do all of those things and more.

You can either float along thinking you hit a triple when you really just happened to be born on third base, or you can use that privilege to help others

But at the end of the day, you’re still going to get it. You’re still going to be offered more and better jobs and get paid more for them, the bank won’t call the cops on you if you go to deposit a check, the passport office won’t give you side-eye, and your co-workers won’t confuse you for the building’s custodial staff. Finally, I should acknowledge that I couldn’t say half this shit and still expect to have a regular column here if it weren’t for that privilege.

Privilege is unshakeable. Until the world is fundamentally changed so that all people are viewed as equal — which is our goal — you have two choices: You can either float along thinking you hit a triple when you really just happened to be born on third base, or you can use that privilege to help others who have to work much harder than you to achieve even half your success. As the recipient of unfair advantage, it’s on you to tip the scales back to where justice would have them. This will not make you a hero, but it will…

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Mike Monteiro
Modus
Writer for

English is my second language. You were my first.