UNC Punishing Student for Protesting Pro-Slavery Monuments

Maya Little has spent a year protesting—in nearly every legally sanctioned way—the presence of a Confederate statue named “Silent Sam” on the campus of her college at UNC-Chapel Hill. On April 30, frustrated by the University’s continued inaction, she finally took the only recourse available to her. Little poured red ink and her own blood on the statue’s pedestal, the mixture a symbolic representation of the blood of African-Americans that already stains the monument to the Confederacy.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
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