“Why I Code”: The Black Developers Learning How To Build The Future


Everyone has a different path to coding. For some people, coding is an outlet to express yourself and be creative, while others seek out programming skills that will help increase their earning potential. And for many folks, coding is a tool that enables them to address problems and inequalities within their communities.

In honor of Black History Month, we’re celebrating the Black learners in our Codecademy community who are helping to shape a more diverse and inclusive tech industry. Here, a few of them share the reasons why they pursued coding, the advice that they wished they had when starting out, and the Black leaders in tech who are inspiring their journeys.

Samson R., front-end developer

Why I code: “I am someone who can generate tons of ideas and wants to get started on everything. I started coding because I believe it allows me to pursue passion projects. Not having to look elsewhere for a coder saves both time and money, plus it means I can keep changing and redesigning as my idea develops.

“Outside of the implications of coding that look good on a resume, I think coding actually does boost my skills, which are actually useful to most jobs. Problem-solving and logic are the main two. Learning to code is like an exercise session for the ‘left’ side of my brain.”

What I wish I knew: “Like everyone else who started programming, the only thing I cared about was writing code. For me, coding was some kind of magic: You type something on a keyboard and a computer instantly shows your result on the screen. This magic started to come to the end when I began to face real-world problems. The number one thing I wish I knew was that programming is not about coding, programming is about solving problems with coding.”

Black programmer, technologist, or mentor who inspires me:Ivy Barley.”

Jalyn A., student

Jalyn A., Student

Why I code: “I started coding because I wanted to explore the different ways I could use technology to solve problems within my community. Technology is flexible, accessible, and powerful. Learning how to code opened the doors to an entirely new way of thinking and solving problems.”

What I wish I knew: “It is not as scary as you think it is. When I started learning to code from scratch, I was really scared and overwhelmed, because I knew absolutely nothing about coding and it looked really complicated. However, I realized that once I became familiar with how to code in different languages, everything was not as difficult as I originally thought it would be.”

Black programmer, technologist, or mentor who inspires me: Joy Buolamwini.”

Tyra C., front-end engineer

Tyra C., front-end engineer

Why I code: “I started coding because I wanted a career where I can express my creativity, be challenged, and where failure isn’t a bad thing.”

What I wish I knew: “It’s okay if you don’t land your first tech job in six months, it’s far more valuable to understand the programming fundamentals and principles, rather than tutorial hopping.”

Black programmer, technologist, or mentor who inspires me:Bukola on YouTube.”

Fialeta M., student

Fialeta M., student

What I wish I knew: “I wish I knew about better resources to learn how to code (like Codecademy!) and also about Black coding groups for support.”

Black programmer, technologist, or mentor who inspires me: “I see a lot of Black software engineers working at a FAANG [Facebook (Meta), Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Alphabet (Google)], company, and they inspire me to keep pushing towards my ultimate goal.”

Tiffani G., executive assistant

Tiffani G., executive assistant

Why I code: “I’ve always been interested in technology since I was little. My family says I could work the remote as a 1-year-old. When I found out that coding allows you to build apps and websites, I’ve wanted to learn. I took some coding courses in school but didn’t realize I could do that for a living.”

What I wish I knew: “Failing is okay, and in fact, encouraged. In school, it’s so taboo to get things wrong. You miss points and get bad grades when you fail. You don’t always get credit for trying. But in learning to code, it’s okay to fail, because in failing, you’re actually learning. And then you’ll fail less and less until you’re great at a concept or language. Then you can move on to the next thing and start failing your way to the top again!”

Black programmer, technologist, or mentor who inspires me: “I really look up to Jeremiah Peoples, Bree Hall of Bytes of Bree, and Nicole Young. Their YouTube channels have really helped me on my coding journey and they inspire me to keep learning.”

Donté L., product marketing for Codecademy

Donté L., product marketing for Codecademy

Why I code: “I wanted to increase my earning potential in the tech industry by learning increasingly desirable technical skills like HTML, JavaScript, and SQL. I also wanted the ability to build my own website and automate personal tasks, such as updating my personal budget.”

What I wish I knew: “There are multiple ways to achieve a result in the coding world. Different programming languages can be used to build a piece of software. It’s just a matter of personal preference (in the case of a professional job, it’s a matter of what the company uses).”

Black programmer, technologist, or mentor who inspires me: “Black women in tech inspire me the most. That includes people like Arlan Hamilton, who founded Backstage Capital, Morgan DeBaun, who founded the digital media company Blavity, and Kimberly Bryant, the founder of Black Girls Code.”

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