Racial Justice

While problems of police brutality and broader challenges of systemic racism are ingrained in the nation’s DNA, more recent phenomena—such as the use of technology to document said violence, the rise of social movements and digital campaigns to advocate for Black lives, and the growth of intersectionality in civil society amongst immigrant rights, queer liberation, and racial justice movements—have catapulted these issues to the fore. As the government’s poor response to the pandemic has disproportionately affected Black and Brown people, the resistance to the current administration’s cruel policies have further fueled the determination and resolve of people of all races to tackle racial injustice head on. 

As we continue the centuries-long journey of tackling racial injustice in the United States, the Carr Center for Human Rights Racial Justice program focuses on reimagining systems, institutions, and movements to promote racial and economic equity for all. The program strengthens discourse connecting domestic civil rights to global human rights frameworks, and brings together faculty, fellows, students, and the broader University community to collaborate.
 

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Upcoming Events

2020 Dec 03

Social Movements and the Mattering of Black Lives

1:30pm to 2:30pm

Location: 

Virtual Event (Registration Required)

Please join the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy for its signature weekly series this fall, The Fierce Urgency of Now, featuring Black, Indigenous, People of Color scholars, activists, and community leaders, and experts from the Global South. Hosted and facilitated by Sushma Raman and Mathias Risse, the series also aligns with a course they will co-teach this fall at the Harvard Kennedy School on Economic Justice: Theory and Practice. 

Panelists:

  • Megan Ming Francis | Associate Professor,...
Read more about Social Movements and the Mattering of Black Lives

Select Publications

Mass Incarceration and The Future: An Urgent Need to Address the Human Rights Implications of Criminal Background Checks and the Future of Artificial Intelligence

Mass Incarceration and The Future: An Urgent Need to Address the Human Rights Implications of Criminal Background Checks and the Future of Artificial Intelligence

Abstract:

Between 70 and 100 million Americans—one in three— currently live with a criminal record. This number is expected to rise above 100 million by the year 2030.

The criminal justice system in the U.S. has over-incarcerated its citizen base; we have 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's prison population. America became known as the “incarceration nation” because our prison and jail population exploded from less than 200,000 in 1972 to 2.2 million today, which became a social phenomenon known as mass incarceration. And along the way, there was a subsequent boom in querying databases for data on citizens with criminal records.

Once a person comes in contact with the U.S. criminal justice system, they begin to develop an arrest and/or conviction record. This record includes data aggregated from various databases mostly, if not exclusively, administered by affiliated government agencies. As the prison population grew, the number of background check companies rose as well. The industry has grown and continues to do so with very little motivation to wrestle with morality, data integrity standards, or the role of individual rights.

This paper address the urgent need to look towards a future where background screening decisions and artificial intelligence collide.

Read full paper here. 

 

: Teresa Y. Hodge & Laurin Leonard | Jul 17 2020
: Examining a future where background screening decisions and artificial intelligence collide.
Last updated on 08/04/2020

From Rationality to Relationality: Ubuntu as an Ethical and Human Rights Framework for Artificial Intelligence Governance

From Rationality to Relationality: Ubuntu as an Ethical and Human Rights Framework for Artificial Intelligence Governance

Abstract:

What is the measure of personhood and what does it mean for machines to exhibit human-like qualities and abilities? Furthermore, what are the human rights, economic, social, and political implications of using machines that are designed to reproduce human behavior and decision making? The question of personhood is one of the most fundamental questions in philosophy and it is at the core of the questions, and the quest, for an artificial or mechanical personhood. 

The development of artificial intelligence has depended on the traditional Western view of personhood as rationality. However, the traditional view of rationality as the essence of personhood, designating how humans, and now machines, should model and approach the world, has always been marked by contradictions, exclusions, and inequality. It has shaped Western economic structures (capitalism’s free markets built on colonialism’s forced markets), political structures (modernity’s individualism imposed through coloniality), and discriminatory social hierarchies (racism and sexism as institutions embedded in enlightenment-era rationalized social and gender exclusions from full person status and economic, political, and social participation), which in turn shape the data, creation, and function of artificial intelligence. It is therefore unsurprising that the artificial intelligence industry reproduces these dehumanizations. Furthermore, the perceived rationality of machines obscures machine learning’s uncritical imitation of discriminatory patterns within its input data, and minimizes the role systematic inequalities play in harmful artificial intelligence outcomes.

Read the full paper.

: Sabelo Mhlambi | July 8 2020
: Tech Fellow Sabelo Mhlambi explores how the Sub-Saharan African philosophy of ubuntu reconciles ethical limitations of artificial intelligence.
Last updated on 08/04/2020

You Purged Racists From Your Website? Great, Now Get to Work

You Purged Racists From Your Website? Great, Now Get to Work

Abstract:

Joan Donovan explains that the covid-19 infodemic has taught social media giants an important lesson: they must take action to control the content on their sites. 

For those who follow the politics of platforms, Monday’s great expulsion of malicious content creators was better late than never. For far too long, a very small contingent of extremely hateful content creators have used Silicon Valley’s love of the First Amendment to control the narrative on commercial content moderation. By labeling every effort to control their speech as “censorship,” these individuals and groups managed to create cover for their use of death threats, harassment, and other incitements to violence to silence opposition. For a long time, it has worked. Until now. In what looks like a coordinated purge by Twitch, Reddit, and YouTube, the reckoning is here for those who use racism and misogyny to gain attention and make money on social media.

Read the full article.

: Joan Donovan | July 1 2020
: Joan Donovan explains that the covid-19 infodemic has taught social media giants an important lesson: they must take action to control the content on their sites. 
Last updated on 08/04/2020
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