Race, Tech, and Civil Society

Critical Conversations for Times of Crisis

The global pandemic gives new urgency to conversations about race, technology, and civil society. Existing inequities are exacerbated by the disease and exploited by the response to it. Technologies contribute to inequity, but also offer ways to restore justice. This crisis offers a moment to ask the types of questions that will strengthen our collective response and build resilience in our society. As we depend on digital communications for every aspect of our daily lives, who is left behind? How are technologies being used to surveil communities of color – and how do communities respond to such surveillance? Why is it critical for people impacted by technology to have a voice in how that technology is regulated and employed by governments? How are activists, researchers, and policymakers seeking to create equity in this digitally dependent world? These questions are rooted in our histories, impacting our present moment, and critical to our futures.


Join us for conversations with scholars, practitioners, activists, and policy experts to explore these issues and more.

Events in this series

June 3 - Legitimizing True Safety

In 2016, the Detroit Police Department rolled out a real-time surveillance program called Project Green Light. Since COVID-19 hit the city, a program that is supposed to be used to “deter, identify, and solve crime,” has since been turned against Detroiters accused of violating social distancing orders. Join this conversation about surveillance, community response, and building a new vision of what it means to be “safe.”

DCSL Fellow Tawana Petty in conversation with Eric Williams, Detroit Justice Center; Clare Garvie, Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law; and Cierra Robson, Harvard University.

June 24 - Protecting the Black Vote during COVID-19

COVID-19 promises to have a significant impact on the 2020 US Presidential Election. This involves a complex web of issues including the communities that have been impacted, how citizens are casting their ballots, and the trust that Americans have in the local, state, and federal government. Join this conversation on the use of coronavirus disinformation to sow resentment and distrust of government among Black communities, with the aim of reducing Black voter turnout for the general election.

DCSL Fellow Mutale Nkonde in conversation with LaTosha Brown, Black Voters Matter Fund;  Chalrton McIlwain, NYU Steinhardt School; and Maria Rodriguez, Hunter College.

#RaceTechCS Twitter Chat

Following the first two events in our Race, Tech & Civil Society series, Digital Impact (@dgtlimpact) will host a Twitter chat to explore these and other questions curated by the community. Join the conversation with #RaceTechCS on July 9th at 11am PT, respond to questions in real time, and see what others are saying.

We now depend on digital communications for nearly every aspect of our daily lives. As our dependencies on digital technologies increase, so do disparities in equity — especially for Black, Brown, and Indigenous people. These communities are leading responses to these inequities, building on their collective wisdom and trusted relationships, and welcoming new allies in this fight.