'They are not the Central Park 5': Ava DuVernay’s series restores humanity of wrongly convicted boys

By usbotschaftberlin - https://www.flickr.com/photos/usbotschaftberlin/16316295157/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40671404

We spend the hour with Ava DuVernay, whose damning new four-part television series “When They See Us” tells the story of five teenagers of color from Harlem—four African-American and one Latino—who were wrongfully accused and convicted of raping and nearly killing a white woman out for a jog in New York City’s Central Park. The night that would come to define the boys’ lives was April 19, 1989, more than 30 years ago. In the sensational trial that followed, they became known as the “Central Park Five.” Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam and Raymond Santana served between six and seven years, and Korey Wise, the only teenager tried as an adult, served more than 13 years. In agonizing detail, “When They See Us” exposes the inner workings of a criminal justice system designed to fail people of color, laying bare the decades of trauma triggered by the boys’ wrongful convictions. It also looks unsparingly at those responsible for the miscarriage of justice, including Linda Fairstein, the head of the Sex Crimes Unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, who spearheaded the case, played by Felicity Huffman. Since the series premiered, Fairstein has been forced to resign from several boards, including Safe Horizon, the Joyful Heart Foundation and her alma mater, Vassar College. Glamour magazine, which named Fairstein Woman of the Year in 1993, issued a statement saying, “Unequivocally, Glamour would not bestow this honor on her today.” Ava DuVernay says that her series reveals that “the system’s not broken; the system was built this way.”

Read More Show less
ACLU By ACLUSponsored

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:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up