Addressing White Supremacy: Anti-Racist Technologies

June 4, 2021
Anurika Onyenso, Third Year General Management Major, University of Alberta, Augustana Campus

Congress 2021 blog edition

The Canadian Communication Association’s “How to Make Your Technology Anti-Racist” open event webcast featured Charlton Mcllwain, Professor, Media, Culture, and Communications at NYU Alliance for Public Interest Technology.

Mcllwain recently published a book titled, “Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, From the Afronet to Black Lives Matter'', which focuses on the intersections of computing technology, race, inequality, and racial justice activism.

Mcllwain described his book as a historically written text narrating and connecting multiple decades of relationships between African Americans and computing technologies from a time when racial justice and computer revolutions were occurring simultaneously.

“Anti-racist technologies not only diminish the scourge of racism and white supremacy, but they are imagined, developed and used to affirm the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness among people and communities of colour.” Mcllwain sparked a discussion centred around whether our current or future technological tools will ever enable us to outrun white supremacy.

He believes anti-racist technologies must address and ameliorate aspects of the differential treatment, and disparate racial impacts. These could include differential treatment on the administration of loan payments defaults, or closures and how all of those things are handled.

Concluding he said: “To say that anti-racist technology must address a specific systemic and structural problem means it must be targeted. It must be focused on identifying and mitigating the disparate racial outcomes or ameliorating a specific set of systematic racial problems.”