Republican governors embrace lies and longtime racist tactics in cutting off unemployment aid

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (circa 2017), USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

The flood of Republican-controlled states cutting off the federal unemployment benefits supplement will lead to nearly 2 million people losing payments before the September cutoff passed by Congress. The nearly 1.4 million people in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance programs will lose everything they're currently getting, while people on traditional unemployment insurance will lose the $300 a week above their state's regular benefits.

"These changes have the potential to drastically scale back assistance to jobless workers far too early in the recovery," Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation, told CNN. "Nationally, there are still 16.8 million workers on one of the unemployment programs, and the nation is still short 8 million-plus jobs from the start of the pandemic."

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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.

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