- The company acknowledged that the notebook was handed out this summer
- Google was ‘not aware’ the line would appear
- A spokesperson blamed the third-party vendor for the blunder
- READ MORE: Leaked Google spreadsheet reveals black staff make $20,000 less than whites
Attendees at a Google summit received a notebook with a bizarre joke about cotton inside the front cover this summer, reigniting questions about discrimination at the tech company.
Upon opening the notebook, attendees saw the sentence, ‘I WAS JUST COTTON THE MOMENT, BUT I CAME BACK TO TAKE YOUR NOTES!’ MUCH BETTER!
When DailyMail.com inquired about the incident, a Google representative pointed the finger at a ‘third party vendor.’
The incident took place at the K&I Black Google Summit, held August 15 and 16 – an event meant to promote diversity and inclusion in the AI community, as well as reinforce Google’s commitment to promoting equity in the broader tech industry.
Google’s notebooks came from a third-party supplier, according to a company spokesperson, and event organizers were not aware of this printing inside
The customizable notebook is sold by multiple online retailers, and the joke seems to refer to the fact that its cover is made of recycled cotton fibers.
The front of the notebooks were inoffensive: an illustration of a sunrise, the event title and date, and the slogan ‘Seize the moment.’
But references to cotton carry strong racial undertones for many Americans, as enslaved Africans were forced to grow and harvest cotton on southern plantations in the 1800s.
Cotton remains the subject of racist taunts to this day.
Observers have noted that someone at Google should have caught this issue, a simple matter to avoid causing offense.
‘It shows a sad carelessness about black perspectives,’ said one Instagram commenter.
The same kind of customizable notebook, made by JournalBook, is available from many online vendors
The reaction to the notebook was first reported by TechCrunch this week.
Commenters on social media have noted that the incident was ‘at the very least an insensitive lack of consideration and respect.’
have failed to catch what should be a simple matter to avoid causing offense, observers have noted.
When DailyMail.com reached out to Google to find out how this happened, a spokesperson said: ‘The notebooks were purchased from a third party vendor and the planning team was not aware the line would appear.
‘We’ve since learned this is a standard line added by the manufacturer about their recycled products.
‘Our post-event surveys showed over 99% positive feedback from attendees about the summit, but we are reviewing our processes to avoid similar situations as we engage with vendors going forward.
‘We understand the line might come across as insensitive and apologize for any unintended offense that was caused.’
Anyone can purchase customized recycled cotton notebooks in large quantities. But should someone at Google have caught the problem with theirs before it was purchased?
Hawkins did not address questions about whether the company has processes in place for vetting the language in event materials, nor about how the company planned to make things right with attendees.
The incident highlights concerns about the tech giant’s efforts to address racial sensitivity in the workplace.
And Google’s diversity, equity, and inclusion issues aren’t limited to notebooks at an event.
Documents leaked in September showed that black employees made an average of $20,000 less than their white counterparts.
And last year a former Google employee accused the company of systematic racial bias.
April Curley, who was hired to help the company hire more black employees, said that instead the company actively thwarted their career ambitions and maintained a ‘racially biased corporate culture’ that favors white men.