Black Boys Code in the Media

Black Boys Code Closing Racial Divide in STEM

Ryersonian
Black Boys Code robotics

Black Boys Code, a not-for-profit organization that introduces young black boys to coding, is making major strides towards closing the racial divide in the computer science field.

The organization hosts computer science and STEM-related events for boys between the ages of eight and 17, including one-day and two-day workshops, hackathons, after-school and summer programs.

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The Peak
Black Boys Code class

Written by: Giovanni HoSang, SFU Student

I have been in the Bachelors of Science in computing science at SFU since transferring here from Jamaica’s University of the West Indies in 2015. In that time, the culture shock I’ve experienced has been massive. I’ve found it rather difficult to be comfortable in certain spaces as the (at most times) only Black student amongst other students, some of whom don’t particularly understand certain issues in the Black community, sometimes belittling our experiences.

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Throughout his career in telecommunications and technology, Bryan Johnson experienced the same thing, over and over.

“I’ve always been the only person of colour in the room,” Johnson said. “ … I’ve lived in four different provinces, and I’ve always been the only person of colour in the room.”

So two years ago, Johnson started a non-profit, Black Boys Code — now operating in Toronto, Durham, Hamilton, Calgary and Vancouver — “dedicated to introducing young, Black boys to computer science.

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Workshops introduce black youth, boys to possibilities in sector. 

Bryan Johnson is used to standing out for more than just his skills and work ethic.

Johnson, who spent 20 years working in technology at UPS and later Aeroplan, recalls a trip to the UPS head office in Atlanta, Georgia, where a third of the population identifies as black or African American.

“There was 14 regional managers and I was the only black person in the room.”

While Canadian statistics are scarce, just 11 per cent of U.S. computer science grads identified as black in 2013-14. Only one per cent of startup founders are black, Johnson adds.