Letter from the CDH

The staff at the Center for Digital Humanities stands with the Movement for Black Lives in dismantling the institutions that uphold systemic racism. We are committed to bringing hidden systems to light, to empowering and supporting research that works toward social justice. We ourselves re-commit to self-examination, self-education, and self-critique in a world where whiteness upholds both economic and informational power structures.

We follow the work of Safiya Noble, whose Algorithms of Oppression taught us that there is no such thing as a neutral algorithm. Ruha Benjamin’s Just Data Lab works to “rethink and retool data for justice,” and her portal on “Policing + Abolition” helps us see how technology has empowered and continues to empower white supremacy, but also how it can be thoughtfully and creatively deployed in the service of a better world. Technological and informational bias is everywhere, and powerful projects have begun to correct it, from Mimi Onuoha’s Missing Data Sets project to our three-year engagement with Jim Casey and Gabrielle Foreman’s Colored Conventions Project, and the annual Douglass Day transcribe-a-thons that bring thousands of people together to expand the historical record.

We know that it takes awareness, imagination, and hard work to interrogate the seemingly objective world of data science, especially in the still-exclusionary environment of the Ivy League. But reading about the countless examples of racism documented by the #BlackintheIvory hashtag on Twitter should remind those with privilege and power in academia that there is much work to be done.

These antiracist resources have been developed by librarians, digital humanists, community organizers, and technologists. We offer them here as the starting point of a much longer conversation, as an invitation to faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduates to divest from racist practices and to build networks of responsibility and accountability. We will continue to update that page with new suggestions.

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