Microsoft was lampooned for having "woke" introductions during a corporate presentation this week. Online commenters mocked Microsoft presenters who delivered long-winded introductions about land acknowledgments, preferred pronouns, race, and hairstyles.
The company was accused of engaging in identity politics and social justice activism for woke presentations during the Microsoft Ignite 2021 conference. Tuesday's remote presentation started with product marketing manager Natalia Godyla introducing herself, "Hello everyone. I'm Natalia Godyla. I'm a Caucasian woman with long blond hair, and I go by she/her."
Microsoft Nic Fillingham introduced himself as a "Caucasian man with glasses and a beard. I go by he/him, and I'm a security evangelist here at Microsoft."
Corporate vice president of Microsoft security Vasu Jakkal joined in by saying, "I'm a woman of Indian descent. I have brown hair, brown eyes, and I'm wearing some killer 5-inch heels."
Into Focus: Security (Microsoft Ignite 2021)www.youtube.com
Microsoft – the company with the highest market capitalization at $2.47 trillion – started another presentation with a land acknowledgment.
"First, we want to acknowledge that the land where the Microsoft campus is situated was traditionally occupied by the Sammamish, Duwamish, Snoqualmie, Suquamish, Muckleshoot, Snohomish, Tulalip, and other coast Salish people since time immemorial," said senior program manager Allison Weins. "A people that are still here, continuing to honor and bring to light their ancient heritage."
Weins then described herself as an "Asian and white female with dark brown hair wearing a red sleeveless top."
Her colleague Seth Juarez – a principal program manager of the AI Platform group – introduced himself, "I'm a tall Hispanic male wearing a blue shirt and khaki pants."
The presentations were ridiculed on Twitter, where many pointed out that Microsoft should give the land back if they are so concerned.
Author and mathematician James Lindsay: "Microsoft is on stolen land. It should be seized out from under them and their physical capital sold to fund reparations."
Quillette founder Claire Lehmann: "Will wokeness contribute to the unwinding of globalization? The rest of the world does not want these bizarre sectarian mind viruses exported to them."
Canadian politician Randy Hillier: "Woke BS."
Dr. Jordan B Peterson: "Omg. Microsoft."
Political commentator Kmele Foster: "Utterly bananas."
Author James Surowiecki: "I don't understand the point of land acknowledgments like this, where the indigenous people whose ancestors owned the land you're on are still here. If you feel bad about it, give the land back! Don't keep it and say, 'We know the land once belonged to you, but oh well.'"
Actor Matthew Marsden: "Give the land back to them. Right now. Oh. You won't. Interesting."
Insider columnist Josh Barro: "Land acknowledgments are such nonsense... if you're that concerned, why aren't you giving the land back?"
Daily Caller social media coordinator Logan Hall: "Modern enterprise: >pledge allegiance to the mob >avoid boycotts >profit."
Comedian Konstantin Kisin: "This must be for the visually-impaired? Right? Please tell me that's right."
Author Sam Harris: "It seems like part of the rationale for this must be to help the visually impaired. But, whatever the intentions, this makes Microsoft look like the Cirque du Soleil of wokeness."
One of the Microsoft presenters defended the introductions that described their appearance, as well as pronouns that "create a safe space."
"With the flurry of comments I wanted to pause and say: Hosts and guests at Microsoft Ignite were provided the option to give a visual description," Godya tweeted. "The intent was to provide those who are visually impaired or blind with a mental image for the event. This is similar to how one might provide alt text for images."
"I also provided my pronouns to create a safe space for others, guests included," she continued. "As a queer person, this is very close to heart. While many might not make use of these practices, I want to encourage a positive, safe, and inclusive environment for all -- not just many."
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