Google had Black folks up in arms with its wild error of putting New Orleans rapper Master P’s photo in place of Luther Vandross on the top search engine. The site also mistakenly placed an image of a white person in the Harlem Nights cast lineup for Eddie Murphy.
On July 5, Google erroneously added the photo, and Black Twitter went in. The same day, a Google search of Harlem Nights’ cast rendered the hilarious photo.
Master P, whose given name is Percy Miller, was born in 1970 in New Orleans, while Vandross was born in 1951 in New Jersey. The acclaimed singer also died in July 2005. Although Google hasn’t issued a statement on the hilarious faux pas, the site has put the proper image in place.
Black Twitter wasted no time lighting Google the hell up.
The Harlem Nights nonsense is equally confusing as the Master P and Vandross debacle. Murphy is a dark-skinned Black man– yet Google somehow managed to confuse him with a person that could have been a stand-in for the Wayans brothers in their 2004 hit comedy White Chicks.
Google’s mixup was ironic, considering the mega search engine touted itself in the organization’s 2023 Diversity Annual Report as meeting “its Racial Equity Commitment of increasing leadership representation of Black+, Latinx+, and Native American+ Googlers by 30%.”
While 30% sounds (see page 65) like a viable increase in diversity candidates, the actual numbers are still shitty. In 2014, only 2.4% of Google’s workforce was Black. Fast forward almost 10 years, and its Black employees only make up 5.6%. Google’s white employees decreased from 64.5% in 2014 to 46.2% in 2023. It’s worth noting that Google’s bogus attempt to amplify its diversity efforts has only helped Asians in terms of adding more minority representation. Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans are still at the bottom of the diversity barrel.
Page 70 of the annual report indicates that Google’s leadership diversity has an even longer road ahead regarding being truly diverse. Roughly 70% of Google’s leadership was white in 2014. In 2023, it’s still over 60%. Asians were the only ethnic group to have some significant growth– starting at 24.3% and increasing to over 30% this year. Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans barely make a dent in the leadership, coming in at an abysmal 10%.
With these statistics, it’s no wonder Google keeps making foolish mistakes with Black talent. Representation matters, and as long as Google remains overwhelmingly white, it won’t just be Vandross, Master P, and Murphy the company confuses.
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