Are women and people of color being excluded from cryptocurrency? An examination of the needlessly complex process of obtaining cryptocurrency, and how the space is perfectly designed to keep out women and people of color.

You’ve heard of Bitcoin’s atmospheric rise from pennies to thousands of dollars. TV, radio, internet — it’s everywhere. And maybe you’ve had the thought that you might very well want to become one of these Bitcoin millionaires.

Easy, right? Even the old folks are doing it. Just head on down to the corner shop, buy a few Bitcoins, stash them away and leave your descendants something grander than holiday trinkets and quaint cutlery.

Not so. The process of obtaining Bitcoins is so labyrinthine and headache-inducing that what was proclaimed to be a democratizing system is actually one of the unfairest systems ever devised. As of 2018 it is still the exclusive domain of pasty creatures from dark recesses of the internet, and, recently we learned, even right-wing lunatics.

I overstate the monopolization just a little bit for effect. Some women and non-white folks have fought and elbowed and dimed and hustled their way into the game and they’re making a killing. But spend two seconds finding out who owns Bitcoins and who does not and it becomes painfully obvious that entire groups of people have in fact been excluded from the party and it was all rigged from the get-go. Most affected are women and people of color.

Related: Why Are So Few Black People Using Bitcoin? — The Atlantic

Bitcoins launched in 2009 and women and PoC have been proud netizens since at least the smartphone revolution (2007). Hell, Grace Hopper basically invented that damn internet thing, or rather the code running the machinery.

So how is it that Bitcoins have come to be so overwhelmingly owned by straight white males? Why is it that a group of society that already owns everything got to exclusively benefit from the greatest wealth transfer of this century?

It’s a complex issue that requires nuance. But let’s start to explore it by looking at just a taster of the kinds of exotic terms a Bitcoin hopeful is required to understand before operating in any kind of cryptocurrency space.

Example of a Literacy Test used to suppress PoC participation.

Blockchain.
Satoshis.
51% Attack.
PoW.
PoS.
Nodes.
Forking.
Ledgers.
Hashrate.
Public/Private Keys.

Is your head spinning yet?

And the problematic themes don’t stop with what’s effectively a racist voter Literacy Test from the Jim Crow era.

Fact sheet about voter IDs from ACLU

Because participation in CoinBase, the only source of cryptocurrency for people who don’t feel like sending their credit card info to dodgy websites run by dudes named Igor, requires a valid driver’s license. You heard that right. You’re not getting a single satoshi’s worth of Bitcoin without it.

ID requirements have time and again been proven to be a bar on entry for people of color, and voter ID laws have repeatedly been stomped into the ground by decent courts from sea to shining sea. So severe is that bar that we, rightly, call it racist suppression, and we, rightly, don’t require IDs for democratic participation.

It’s a Literacy Test and voter ID double whammy and basically, we are all fucked. Well, most of us.

Related: Bitcoin: By The Privileged, For The Privileged — ThinkProgress

I think you are starting to form a pretty good picture of what is going on, but remember I also said it’s a complex issue.

People at the top of the power hierarchy in any given society — in our case, straight white males — have always been paranoid of new guys or guyettes knocking them down, especially if they come in a different shade and get jiggy with the dope street vernacular. And what better way to strangle competition than excluding it from participating to begin with?

It’s not purely malice, it’s also simple economics. If fewer people own Bitcoins then the Bitcoins become more valuable. If everyone were able to have a Bitcoin and become rich then Bitcoin’s pale cartel wouldn’t make out like crooks.

So tell me if you are a person of color or happen to bleed once a month and I will tell you if you have Bitcoin.

Because numbers don’t lie. But Satoshi Nakamoto did.

P.S. Are you using Brave yet? Delay the skynet by using the browser that automatically strips all tracking and ads. Brendan Eich (of JavaScript fame) is its CEO.

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Anonymous
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Anonymous

You gotta be fucking kidding me. I might not bleed once a month anymore (thanks, birth control), but as an Asian-American woman, I am outright offended. Seriously, fuck you.

Blockchain. Satoshis. 51% Attack. PoW. PoS. Nodes. Forking. Ledgers. Hashrate. Public/Private Keys.

It takes just ten, maybe twenty minutes of reading to learn what those terms mean. Plug those words into a search engine, click something, and you’re set. Regardless, this is all beside the point! While I highly recommend researching new technologies before trying to use them, you don’t need to know any of this to use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. There are a crazy amount of services available that makes using them even easier than opening a bank account.

Actually, that brings me to my next point. For all your whining about ID requirements, have you done even a few seconds of research before spraying your ignorant vitriol all over this lovely site? Coinbase, like any other bank in the United States, is required by law to request ID due to a set of laws known as KYC (for those of you who find search engines overly complicated, that’s short for “Know Your Customer”). If you don’t like KYC laws, call the IRS, call your representatives, and vote! Don’t mindlessly shit on tangentially related emerging technologies.

Even still, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are decentralized. You can buy them with cash on the street. You can buy them from ATMs at convenience stores. You can buy them using online DEXs (again, for the lazy and incapable, “decentralized exchanges”). There are so many options outside of the centralized banking system.

This isn’t some grand racist or sexist conspiracy. The demographics of cryptocurrency line up with the demographics of the tech industry, and both are becoming more and more diverse by the day. I’ve managed to get many of my friends into playing with cryptocurrencies, many of whom are PoCs like me, many of whom are women like me, many of whom would also be offended by your myopic nonsense.

None of these lovely people were held back by their race or their gender, and I sure as hell wasn’t either.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

You can’t open a bank account or credit card without an ID anyway, so you wouldn’t be able to buy bitcoin anyway, at least through typical sites like coinbase.

There are ATMs with 5-10% fees, but that’s probably a good thing for people incapable of getting an ID… they have higher priorities to tackle than lack of bitcoin.

bitcointalkwin
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Technically speaking, a bank account or credit card isn’t even required to obtain Bitcoin. It would be a pain in the ass, but possible.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

You’re fucking right. Holy shit, we really have to kill whitey right fucking now.

Ron Burgandy.
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Ron Burgandy.

I agree about the drivers license issue. Requiring a drivers license is going to exclude those too poor to own a car, which will disproportionately exclude non-whites. However, saying that the terminology excludes women is ridiculous. Women are already better educated than men.http://time.com/4064665/women-college-degree/ Are we really supposed to believe that women can earn more academic degrees than men, but not master the same technical terms as men?

Cynthia T
Guest

Actually, Coinbase and sites like it also accept state issued IDs that are not drivers’ licenses. I don’t drive because of medical reasons, but I have a Coinbase account. And I managed to figure out how cryptocurrencies work despite my obvious handicap of being a woman.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

This is a shill article, but it does point towards Bitcoin’s biggest failure. The working man would never be capable of using Bitcoin properly: he has a tough time using an eight letter password properly as is. This also applied to women, and perhaps more so, as women are more likely to be technologically illiterate. Perhaps this is why we need fiat.

Ron Burgandy.
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Ron Burgandy.

I agree that it would be better if Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies were more intuitive. However, saying that the counter-intuitive terminology is exclusionary towards women and people of color only makes sense if you think that those groups are less capable of grasping esoteric subjects than white males. In other words, It seems like you are admitting that the white supremacists are right.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

they are dumb af, spending unnecessary money in stupid shit
>it’s whites fault, minorities and women don’t invest for their future
please explain how? Because unless you’re brain dead, getting bitcoins is the easiest thing to do, if you have a job. So stay mad nocoiner idiots, this article is nothing but envy of the ignorant
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Anonymous
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Anonymous

Womyn and beople of color are not being excluded from cryptocurrency at all.

Dumb people however will be excluded from cryptocurrency by their own idiocy 🙂

Yeah
Guest
Yeah

Hey there friends, we made bitconnect for you and now it has x.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

I can see some larger issues that could keep black people out of crypto, namely poverty/fucked up family means you have less access to wealth, difficulty in acquiring ID, and are less likely to have experience with tech stuff meaning you probably heard about crypto later than most people and have a larger hill to climb in learning about it.

The latter two are larger issues for which tougher access to crypto is a symptom of not a cause of and could be described as poverty and intergenerational dysfunction being passed along. Also tech stuff not being “cool” until recently means that people tend to self select out of bothering to learn it. Their loss, can’t blame everyone but yourself for this part.

The former though fuck that, I put in crypto money by saving from my shitty job and living below my means and not spending money on things I can’t afford, like a kid.

Getting money off crypto requires some starting resources but these are not outside the means of someone who even has a more difficult time getting them to acquire. They are understandable, basic parts of participation in society and if you can’t deal with that you are going to have a bad time in other areas of life too. We technically could engineer society in a way to make them less of an issue, but at that point we would be getting rid of a lot of free market and innovation incentivizing parts which are its strength in exchange for a more structured society, which do not have great track records in recent history.

Consider this
Guest
Consider this

I watched a documentary called “debugging the gendergap”, about why girls have a hard time getting into the field. During the doc they addressed why there needs to be diversity in tech fields with an example involving airbags. The people that were designing standardized airbags were all white males at average height and while designing and testing they would use dummies with similar dimensions as the people on their team. Because of this airbags were killing people because they were not designed for more petite women. This is just an example but it caused me to reflect and reconsider my previously held beliefs regarding inclusion. So, thanks for this. Keep in mind if we get women and PoC into crypto everyone will be better off, even the cis white males.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Lol, this is the greatest article I’ve ever read. Whoever wrote this may be the most intelligent human in history.

Editor
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Editor

Thanks for the Gold kind stranger!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Imagine being new to crypto and reading this trash

Alex Jones
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Alex Jones

This is the dumbest article I have ever read. Anyone can buy bitcoin. If you are to stupid to get involved that is on you. Maybe if you were less focused on makeup or the newest Jordan’s you would have caught the crypto currency rush.

SHENEEQUA
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SHENEEQUA

IM A BLACK WOMAN AND IM TOO FUCKING STUPID TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO BUY BITCOIN.

RACIS SEXIS WHITIES R KEEPIN ME DOWN

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Alt-right joining in for some classy “conversating” I see

Andre Anglin kick you off /r/T_D or what’s the matter little boy?
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Anonymous
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Anonymous

>t. idiot who can’t get cryptos because is too stupid
stay mad faggot

Truth
Guest
Truth

>it’s too difficult for me so it must be racist
current feminism in a nutshell

zzz
Guest
zzz

Lol
>Too busy browsing pinterest to pay attention to anything else
>Complain that you missed the boat.

kk

Sergey
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Sergey

Everyone in the cryptocurrency sphere dislikes ID requirements. The government financial regulations forces exchanges to require an ID. It is the government’s racist policy of requiring IDs, decentralized monetary systems (bitcoin) actually want ID-free money, separated from racist institutions. Bitcoin wants freedom, democracy. It is a natural ally of PoC and women.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

This a joke right?

Anonymous
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Anonymous

No, you are a joke,

Sergey
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Sergey

No, I am serious.

Sergey
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Sergey

Go to reddit and see tons of people complaining about ID requirements. Exchanges tell users that it is required by the government, or the government will shut the exchange down and/or fine heavily.

pepe
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pepe

fucking kek

Paul
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Paul

This must be satire. If you don’t manage to buy bitcoin you shouldn’t own any.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

nice research on this. crypto will die without women, because women are the future according to new studies.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

This is the dumbest shit I’ve read all year, and it’s fucking February.

Tyrone
Guest
Tyrone

.MUP DA DOO DIDDA PO MO GUB BIDDA BE DAT TUM MUHFUGEN BIX NOOD COF BIN DUB HO MUHFUGGA

Anonymous
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Anonymous

comment image

Alex Jones
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Alex Jones

Yet this article argues wome and black are incapable of what whites are.

Jay
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Jay

Sorry, but if you could not understand what Tyrone was saying then that makes you the racist. I understood what they commented just fine.