2019 Critical Race and Digital Studies Conference
May 28, 2019
This one-day International Communication Association post-conference on May 28, 2019, sought to bring together established and emerging scholars of race and technology to critically reflect on ways that race and inequality structurally organizes and manifests in digital architectures, individual and collective identities, local and global communities, cultural practices, and power relations.
Please note that this event may have been filmed or photographed.
Opening & Closing Remarks
Charlton McIlwain is an Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
Charlton McIlwain is an Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. His recent work focuses on the intersections of race, digital media, and racial justice activism. He recently wrote Racial Formation, Inequality & the Political Economy of Web Traffic, in the journal Information, Communication & Society, and he co-authored, with Deen Freelon and Meredith Clark, the recent report Beyond the Hashtags: Ferguson, #BlackLivesMatter, and the Online Struggle for Offline Justice, published by the Center for Media & Social Impact, and supported by the Spencer Foundation. He is currently working on the book Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, From the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter. He also founded the Center for Critical Race & Digital Studies to promote innovative work at the intersections of race and new media technologies. You can read more about his work here.
Panel – What’s at Stake: Race x Technology
9:30 am – 10:45 am
André L. Brock, Associate Professor, School of Literature, Media, and Communication, Georgia Tech University
André L. Brock joins the School of Literature, Media, and Communication as an associate professor. He is an interdisciplinary scholar with an M.A. in English and Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University and a Ph.D. in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His scholarship includes published articles on racial representations in videogames, black women and weblogs, whiteness, blackness, and digital technoculture, as well as groundbreaking research on Black Twitter. His article “From the Blackhand Side: Twitter as a Cultural Conversation” challenged social science and communication research to confront the ways in which the field preserved “a color-blind perspective on online endeavors by normalizing Whiteness and othering everyone else” and sparked a conversation that continues, as Twitter, in particular, continues to evolve.
Meredith Clark, Assistant Professor, Department of Media Studies, University of Virginia
Dr. Meredith D. Clark (@MeredithDClark) is a former newspaper journalist whose research focuses on the intersections of race, media, and power. Her award-winning dissertation on Black Twitter landed her on The Root 100, the news website's list of the most influential African Americans in the country, in 2015. She's a regular contributor to Poynter.org's diversity column, and her research has been published in Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, the Journal of Social Media in Society, and New Media & Society. Dr. Clark is a graduate of Florida A&M University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and comes to UVA from the University of North Texas, where she spent three years as a tenure-track assistant professor of digital and print news. She's a pet mom to two tabby cats, Gabe and Spencer, and a devoted "Grey's Anatomy" fan.
Catherine Knight Steele, Assistant Professor of Communication, University of Maryland
Dr. Steele is a scholar of race, gender and media with specific focus on African American culture and discourse in traditional and new media. Her research has appeared in the Howard Journal of Communications and the book Intersectional Internet (S.U. Noble and B. Tynes Eds.) Her doctoral dissertation, Digital Barbershops, focused heavily on the black blogosphere and the politics of online counterpublics. She is currently working on a monograph about digital black feminism and new media technologies. Dr. Steele also serves as the first Project Director for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded College of Arts and Humanities grant, Synergies among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture.
Desmond Patton, Founding Director of SAFE Lab, Columbia University
Associate Professor Desmond Upton Patton is a Public Interest Technologist who uses qualitative and computational data collection methods to examine the relationship between youth and gang violence and social media; how and why violence, grief, and identity are expressed on social media; and the real world impact these expressions have on wellbeing for low-income youth of color. Dr. Patton is the founding Director of the SAFE lab, a member of the Data Science Institute, a faculty affiliate of the Social Intervention Group (SIG) and holds a courtesy appointment in the department of Sociology. He is the recipient of the 2018 Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work Research (SSWR), and was named a 2017-2018 Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.
Dr. Patton studies the ways in which gang involved youth conceptualize threats on social media, and the extent to which social media shapes and facilitates youth and gang violence. In partnership with the Data Science Institute, he is developing an online tool for detecting aggression in social media posts. Dr. Patton’s research on “internet banging” has been featured in the New York Times,Chicago Tribune, USA Today, NPR, Boston Magazine, ABC News, and Vice. It was cited in an Amici Curae Brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in Elonis v. United States, which examined the interpretation of threats on social media.
Brandi Collins, Senior Campaign Director, Color of Change
Brandi Collins-Dexter is the Senior Campaign Director at Color Of Change and oversees the media, democracy and economic justice departments. She has led a number of successful campaigns for accountability including getting Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor taken off the air; getting R. Kelly dropped from RCA for his repeatedly abusing girls; winning Net neutrality protections; pressuring financial companies to pull funding from hate groups; and persuading Disney not to whitewash the features of their character Princess Tiana.
Brandi is a regular commentator in the media on racial justice. The Hill named her a 2017 “person to watch.” She has written for The Root, The Hill and ESPN’s The Undefeated, and has been featured on the BBC, and in the Guardian, Gizmodo and Pitchfork.
She comes to Color Of Change from the Center for Media Justice. Before that, Brandi worked at Safer Foundation in Illinois, creating state and national recommendations on job opportunities and reentry for people leaving prison.
Brandi holds a B.A. in history from Agnes Scott College, and a J.D. from University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School. She lives with her husband, and in her free time enjoys watching sports and exploring historical sites and quirky roadside attractions.
Panel – Legal & Policy Frameworks for Understanding the Impact of Racialized Digital Technologies
11:00 am – 12:15 pm
How can we begin to address the digital rights of people traditionally covered under legal frameworks for protected classes? Artificial intelligence can entrench existing bias by building targets based on past discriminatory practices. Algorithms intended to help vulnerable populations can be shared with organizations that intend to marginalize them. Large private corporations are managing data about populations that is traditionally considered under the jurisdiction of governments. These and other examples of automatic classifications using predictive technology are challenging existing laws, regulation and public policy. This panel will consider how to shift existing governance mechanisms to provide better accountability for understanding the impact of race and technology.
Jessica Eaglin, Associate Professor of Law, Indiana University
Jessica M. Eaglin joined the Maurer School of Law in 2015 after several years of experience in private practice and as a judicial clerk. She served as counsel in the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and clerked for Hon. Damon J. Keith of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. She was also a litigation associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in New York City. She is an expert in criminal law, evidence, and federal sentencing law.
In addition to her JD degree from Duke University School of Law, she holds an M.A. in literature from Duke University and a B.A. in English from Spelman College, where she graduated magna cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She served as a Law and Public Affairs Fellow at Princeton University during 2017-18.
Margaret Hu, Associate Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University
Margaret Hu is an Associate Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law. Her research interests include the intersection of immigration policy, national security, cybersurveillance, and civil rights. Previously, she served as senior policy advisor for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and also served as special policy counsel in the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), Civil Rights Division, U. S. Department of Justice, in Washington, D.C. As Special Policy Counsel, Hu managed a team of attorneys and investigators in the enforcement of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and was responsible for federal immigration policy review and coordination for OSC.
Hu received her B.A. in East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Kansas and her J.D. from Duke Law School. She is a Truman Scholar, Foreign Language Area Studies Scholar, and recipient of a Duke Law School Merit Scholarship. She clerked for Judge Rosemary Barkett on U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and subsequently joined the U.S. Department of Justice through Attorney General's Honors Program under Attorney General Janet Reno.
Hu has served in various leadership positions, including vice chair, Kansas Commission for National and Community Service, by gubernatorial appointment; Board of Directors, Harry S. Truman Library and Museum; Board of Directors, University of Kansas Memorial Corporation; National Governing Board, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum; and Dean's Advisory Council, Duke Law School.
Tara Ramchandani, Partner, Relman, Dane & Colfax
Tara K. Ramchandani is a Partner at Relman, Dane & Colfax. Tara joined the firm in 2010. She maintains a varied civil rights litigation practice, representing individuals and organizations in housing, lending, and public accommodations discrimination cases. Her work often focuses on combating the predatory targeting of minority communities and ensuring equal opportunity, regardless of protected class, in the provision of housing and other services. Tara has successfully tried multiple cases to jury verdict.
Tara has spearheaded cases tackling the targeting of minority communities with predatory products. Among the most prominent is Saint-Jean, et al. v. Emigrant Mortgage Co., et al., a reverse redlining suit against a New York bank that targeted African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods with predatory home refinance loans. In 2016, a Brooklyn jury found Emigrant liable for discrimination under all counts of federal and state anti-discrimination laws. In Mary Morgan, et al. v. Richmond School of Health and Technology, Inc., the first reverse redlining case against a for-profit college in the country, Tara represented a class of current and former students challenging the school’s practice of targeting African Americans and Hispanics to take on large student loans in order to enroll in educational programs the school knew to be inadequate.
Tara has also had significant victories challenging race discrimination in public accommodations. In Ross v. Choice Hotels, Inc., she successfully resolved a case on behalf of two African-American women denied access to a hotel room. The settlement came after a federal court in Ohio rejected the defendant’s summary judgment motion, holding that a franchisor may be held liable for a public accommodations violation regardless of whether it operates the franchise.
Prior to joining the firm, Tara was a law clerk for the Honorable Algenon L. Marbley on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and then an attorney at Goodwin & Procter, LLP, where she worked on a variety of litigation matters. During law school, she was Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.
Tara’s awards and honors include the Wasserstein Public Interest Visiting Fellowship, Harvard University School of Law (2016) and selection as a Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers Rising Star in civil rights from 2014 to 2019. She is a fellow with the Student Borrower Protection Center and teaches as an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan Law School. Tara also regularly presents on civil rights issues across the country.
Anne Washington, Assistant Professor of Data Policy, New York University
Anne L. Washington is an Assistant Professor of Data Policy at NYU. She applies her expertise in digital government to emerging data governance issues in organizations with a public mission. As a computer scientist trained in organizational ethnography, she unites inductive qualitative research methods with technology tools. At the broadest level, her multi-disciplinary work considers the impact of technology on society through the lens of digital record keeping. The National Science Foundation has funded her research multiple times including a five-year NSF CAREER grant on open government data. She holds an undergraduate degree in computer science from Brown University, a graduate degree in Library & Information Science from Rutgers University, and a doctorate in Information Systems and Technology Management from The George Washington University. She has served as a fellow at the Data & Society Research Institute of New York and the Peter Pribilla Foundation of Munich and Leipzig Germany. She teaches in the Applied Statistics, Social Science, and Humanities department in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University.
Panel - (Re)Defining Technologies: A Roundtable on Interventions & Resistance
2:00 pm - 3:15 pm
This roundtable discussion explores the the varied definitions of technology as it relates to the lived black and brown experience in a networked world. Building on conversations and presentations of CR+DS scholars, this roundtable provides space to further explore questions of interventions in the digital realm or utilizing various technologies for survival. Specifically, scholars discuss how the definition of technology varies and expands as it intersects with race, lived experiences, and community practices.
Christina Aushana, Department of Communication, University of San Diego
full bio pending
Angela Peñaredondo, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing & Digital Media, California State University San Bernardino
Angela's research and teaching interests are the following: Creative Writing Studies; Hybrid Literary Genres; Multi-Ethnic & Queer Literature; The Graphic Novel; Digital Humanities; Visual and Digital Arts; Crtical Race and Gender Studies; Women Studies; Queer Theory & Queer of Color Critique; Queer Filipinx Futurisms.
Kiran Samuel, Department of Sociology, Columbia University
Kiran Samuel is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. Her research interests lie at the intersection of critical digital studies, cultural studies, media studies, and science and technology studies. She is particularly interested in understanding how technology shapes material conditions for marginalized communities, as well as how those communities might use new media to achieve alternative futures. Before coming to Columbia University, Kiran worked as a creative strategist in the advertising industry, with clients including Google, YouTube, and other companies turned subjects of her research.
Tara Pixley, Assistant Professor of Journalism, Loyola Marymount University
Tara is a photojournalist and scholar of visual journalism based in Los Angeles, CA, with an MFA in Photography, a PhD in Communication and over a decade of experience as a photographer for news and editorial organizations. Though she shoots a multitude of subjects for her clients and commissions, her personal photographic and scholarly work focuses on rethinking visual representations of gender, race and sexuality in documentary image-making.
Tara's documentary film work has screened internationally, her writing on media has been published in magazines, academic journals and news media trade journals. Tara was a 2016 Visiting Fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism of Harvard University, researching and writing about how to improve inequities behind the documentary camera. Tara's Nieman Reports cover story on visual journalism's lack of diverse perspectives was awarded the 2017 FOLIO Ozzie for Best B2B Single Article.
Panel - Justice, Inclusion, and Imagining and Building Alternative Platforms
3:30 pm - 4:45 pm
This panel explores the question of how we can use new media technologies for the specific purposes of racial justice and inclusion. Scholars will discuss efforts toward anti-racist interventions, including alternative media productions, archives, hashtag campaigns, and counter-mapping platforms. Building on their wide array of experiences, the panelists will discuss potential lessons, themes, and strategies for a more radically and racially inclusive future of new media and technologies, within and outside of extant pipelines of production, distribution, and consumption. In all, this discussion seeks to engage and learn from extant scholarship-activism aimed at combating the flattening discourses of diversity and multiculturalism.
Matthew Bui, Doctoral Candidate and Annenberg Fellow, USC Annenberg School for Communication
Matthew N. Le-Bui (ABD) researches the social, cultural, and spatial implications of geosocial media and other digital and data-based forms of urban communication. In particular, Matt is interested in examining the logics of racial capitalism embedded within these tools and systems as they are increasingly integrated within local initiatives and policy, in order to extrapolate whether and how they can facilitate data justice and equity. His research has received recognition and support from the International Association for Media and Communication Research, Urban Communication Foundation, Benton Foundation, and Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy (TPRC).
Before coming to Annenberg, Matt worked in nonprofit marketing and volunteered as a mentor for emerging leaders and first-generation college students. He also graduated with honors from UCLA, with a BA in Communications, and completed his MSc in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
The son of refugees, Matt strives to give back to his communities through all of his work — as a scholar, advocate, and activist. For more information, visit http://matthewnlebui.com.
Aymar Jean Christian, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Northwestern University
Aymar Jean "AJ" Christian is an assistant professor of communication studies at Northwestern University. His first book, Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood and the Rise of Web Television on New York University Press, argues the web brought innovation to television by opening development to independent producers. His work has been published in numerous academic journals, including The International Journal of Communication, Television & New Media, Cinema Journal, Continuum, and Transformative Works and Cultures. He has juried television and video for the Peabody Awards, Gotham Awards, and Tribeca Film Festival, among others. He leads OTV | Open Television, a research project and platform for intersectional television. OTV programs have received recognition from HBO, the Television Academy (Emmy Awards), New York Television Festival, City of Chicago, Streamy Awards, and Independent Filmmaker Project (Gotham Awards). Its programming partners have included the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Block Museum of Art, and City of Chicago, along with numerous galleries, community organizations, and universities. Dr. Christian's blog, Televisual, is an archive of over 500 posts chronicling the rise of the web TV market, and he has written regular reports on TV and new media for Indiewire, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Tubefilter. He received PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.
Sarah Jackson, Associate Professor of Communication, Northeastern University
Sarah J. Jackson is an expert in how communication constructs identity and shapes social change in U.S. culture. A scholar of the public sphere, she studies how media, journalism and technology are used by and represent marginalized publics, with a focus on communication by and about Black and feminist activists. Her first book, Black Celebrity, Racial Politics, and the Press (2014) examines the relationship between Black celebrity activism, journalism and American politics.
Lori Kido Lopez, Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Lori Kido Lopez is an Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies in the Communication Arts department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also affiliate faculty in the Asian American Studies Program and the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies.
Dr. Lopez is the author of Asian American Media Activism: Fighting for Cultural Citizenship with NYU Press and a co-editor of the Routledge Companion to Asian American Media with Vincent Pham. She is a Co-Editor at the International Journal for Cultural Studies. Her work examines race and ethnicity in the media through a cultural studies lens, deploying ethnography and interviews to examine the way that Asian Americans and other minority groups use media in the fight for social justice. Her current research examines Hmong Americans and the culturally specific ways that they are participating in the production and consumption of digital media, particularly considering the gendered dimensions of Hmong media cultures.
Lori received a PhD in Communication from the University of Southern California, an MA in Mass Communication from Indiana University, and a BA in Asian Studies and Media Studies from Pomona College. She is mixed race Japanese American and is originally from Portland, OR.
Tonia Sutherland, Assistant Professor of Information and Computer Sciences, University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa
Dr. Tonia Sutherland is assistant professor in the Department of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Prior to joining the faculty at UHM, Sutherland was an assistant professor in the College of Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama. Sutherland holds a PhD and an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing and Information (formerly the School of Information Studies), and a BA in history, performance studies, and cultural studies from Hampshire College. Global in scope, Sutherland’s research focuses on entanglements of technology and culture, with particular emphases on critical and liberatory work within the fields of archival studies, digital culture studies, and Science and Technology Studies (STS),
Sutherland’s work critically examines the analog histories of modern information and communication technologies; addresses trends of racialized violence in 21st century digital cultures; and interrogates issues of race, ritual, and embodiment in archival and digital spaces. In her work, Sutherland focuses on various national infrastructures–technological, social, human, cultural–addressing important concerns such as gaps and vagaries; issues of inclusivity and equality; and developing more liberatory praxes.
Sutherland is the author of Digital Remains: Race and the Digital Afterlife (forthcoming). She is a faculty affiliate of the Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies. She is a member of the American Studies Association, the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, and the Association for Library and Information Science Education. Her work appears in The Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies; The American Archivist; Preservation, Digital Technology & Culture; The Annual Review of Cultural Heritage Informatics; and Radical History Review.
Keynote: Artificial Intelligence and the New Jim Code
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Ruha Benjamin, Associate Professor of African American Studies, Princeton University
Ruha Benjamin is an Associate Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where she studies the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine. Ruha is also the founder of the JUST DATA Lab and the author of two books, People’s Science (Stanford) and Race After Technology (Polity), and editor of Captivating Technology (Duke). Ruha writes, teaches, and speaks widely about the relationship between knowledge and power, race and citizenship, health and justice.
Meredith Broussard, Assistant Professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York University
Data journalist Meredith Broussard is an assistant professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University and the author of “Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World.”. Her academic research focuses on artificial intelligence in investigative reporting, with a particular interest in using data analysis for social good. She is also interested in reproducible research issues and is developing methods for preserving innovative digital journalism projects in scholarly archives so that we can read today’s news on tomorrow’s computers. She is an affiliate faculty member at the Moore Sloan Data Science Environment at the NYU Center for Data Science, a 2019 Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow, and her work has been supported by the Institute of Museum & Library Services as well as the Tow Center at Columbia Journalism School. A former features editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, she has also worked as a software developer at AT&T Bell Labs and the MIT Media Lab. Her features and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, and other outlets. Follow her on Twitter @merbroussard or contact her via meredithbroussard.com.
For media inquires and speaking engagements, please email meredith.broussard.office @ gmail.com. For review copies and course adoption inquiries, please contact Jessica Pellien, pellien @ mit.edu.