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Talking about race

In this video, Abadesi and Efua talk about acknowledging prejudice and we share some resources that can help aid these honest conversations.
<v ->I feel like the work of addressing racism</v> in technology is the same as addressing racism in any workplace and in any society. I think we as individuals need to, first of all, have a better understanding of, like, what racism is. You know, racism is kind of like a spectrum, or like a constant, as opposed to a yes or a no, binary kind of thing. So, you know, we’re all a bit racist, basically. Some of us less so, some of us more so. On any given day, week, month of the year it might be extremely, or not so much.
And being able to have healthy dialogue about treating others differently because of their race, or seeing people differently, perpetuating stereotypes, whatever it might be, just being able to have a really healthy dialogue around racism and how racism manifests in society is really important. I try to think critically all the time, not just when building products, about the language that we use, and the way we describe things, and I think that can be super impactful. You know, challenge problematic terms, and call them out, replace them, have a conversation. Doing the work of being anti-racist everyday in your life will immediately start to have impact in the way that you’re anti-racist in technology.
<v ->I think that question for me,</v> there are a few ways I can approach that, and I think the first is, if you’re asking because you maybe are not from a minority race and you want to start talking about race, you gotta ask yourself what you want to know, and if you can find that information out elsewhere. So, if you can find that information out in something else, like books, an own device first, go and look at that and how you can educate yourself before trying to approach the conversation.
If you’re finding it hard to approach the topic, because you are worried that you might offend someone, or that it’s difficult, I would suggest that, you know, be prepared to be uncomfortable, ‘cause it’s not necessarily a comfortable conversation, and be really open to listening to other people’s experiences. If you are somebody who is potentially of a minority race and your are in an environment where you find it uncomfortable to broach that subject, I would probably advise going to find groups and areas where you have safe spaces where you can talk about that, and you can get advice on what to do.
<v ->On a really simple level by individuals learning more</v> about their own levels of racism and their own levels of bias. All of us have some level of prejudice and discrimination. Most of it, unfortunately, we are very unable to see. So, I think it’s really, really important for us to raise awareness around these issues, and of course, educate us. Very few people actually consider how many decisions they have to make on any given day. But, you know, by the time most of us get to lunchtime, it’s thousands of decisions. Very few of those decisions did we actually objectively break down, unpack, and think through, and then optimise for inclusion.
So, I think employees and individuals should really just think about the decisions they make each day, the conversations they participate in, and think about how to make each of those conversations and each of those interactions as inclusive and equitable as possible.

In this video, Abadesi and Efua talks about how we’re all prejudiced in various ways and to varying degrees. We have already discussed why it is important to be actively anti-racist and the importance of talking about race, even though it may be uncomfortable to do so.

Below are some resources that can help you explore and begin a dialogue on race.

In the comment section below think back to the poll you took part in before watching this video and discuss whether hearing from Abadesi and Efua made you feel differently?

Further resources:

  1. Courtney Ahn, 2020. A guide to white privilege.

  2. Layla F. Saad, 2020. Me and White Supremacy: A 28-Day Challenge to Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor.

  3. Brene Brown, 2020. Brene on shame and accountability.

  4. Mutale Nkonde & Charlton McElwain, 2020. All tech is human: building anti-racist technology and culture, The Radical AI Podcast.

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Anti-Racist Approaches in Technology

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