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Fostering Critical Race Computational Thinking in CS: Preparing Youth to “Talk Back” and “Bring Wreck” to Algorithmic Anti-Blackness in Schools and Technology

Dr. Tiera Tanksley
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Dr. Tiera Tanksley
Identity & Computing Lecture Series

This presentation will highlight the experiences of 3 cohorts (n=40) of Black high school students who participated in a 5-week course called "Race, Abolition and AI." The goal of the course was to foster students' ability to critically examine the ubiquity of anti-Black racism within socio-technical architectures (e.g., code, data, algorithms, etc.) of popular platforms and internet technologies. In addition to discussing material and discursive consequences of algorithmic anti-blackness, the course also examined ways Black communities transformatively resist - or "debug" - algorithmic anti-blackness through the design of abolitionist technologies. Consequently, the course culminated in a design project where Black youth worked collaboratively to dream up and design race-conscious and algorithmically-just technologies that could help - rather than harm - historically marginalized communities.

This presentation will center the voices, experiences, and abolitionist inventions of the youth, and take a closer look at how they used these technology projects to construct new tools and Black digital futures that center life, joy, and communal healing. It simultaneously examines Black life, joy, and joyous learning as an invaluable approach to CS education, and showcases how Black joy was not only physically enacted through the collaborative design process (i.e. students laughed, played, and "acted up" while designing) but also algorithmically encoded into the sociotechnical infrastructures of the final projects (i.e. content moderation algorithms that would flag and delete micro-aggressive content, but hyper circulate Black joy and wellness content).