Whats really changed?

Print, The Black Experience in Graphic Design, 1968.

It was a hard read/listen but I’m glad to have read through the article which Leena suggested for me.

The Black Experience in Graphic Design: 1968 and 2020, has a number of black designers read through a hard copy article written in 1968 to see how much has changed or rather reflect on how little has changed.

As I started it was a hard read as there was a lot I recognise in my experiences as a designer in the earlier days of 2000. Like most of the designers featured, I stay hopefully too However I also listened/read the wired article – Five Years of Tech Diversity Reports—and Little Progress.

So little progressive… 

George Floyd mural in Manchester's Northern Quarter
At least george floyds mural stays in the northern quarter even today – Oct 25th 2020

Its coming up to 6 months since George Floyd was murdered by the Minneapolis police. One of the things I am planning is a look at all those pledges to make a change by companies to see if they actually did what they pledged.

Part of my work is to extract the data from this amazing presentation. Put into a form where others can add to it, likely a airtable, mutliple google sheets or github somehow? I think what the original authors did is amazing but it they limited its impact by not separating the data from the format. Not a criticism of course, but I could really help if they provided the data or sources.

If you can help or can point at places which might help a XML type person like me, do shout. If you are interested in joining what happens next, drop me a message.

Little update

I started a google sheet, after pretty much manually pulling the data out of the Google Slide. There’s lot of room for adding others. I’ll likely drop the sheet somewhere, so others can add without messing with the existing data.  I’m testing the protected cell feature in Google sheets, although I have a copy if it all goes wrong. This gives me the chance to mess with Airtable I guess?

#blacklivesmatter, why I know this time we may see lasting change

John Carlos and Tommie Smith made headlines across the world when they raised the black power salute on the podium after winning in the 1968 Olympics

A couple of things confirmed to me this time we may see some changes. The question is will there be enough change?

White middle class people protesting in white middle class spaces

I was surprised last Wednesday afternoon, riding through Cholton in Manchester the amount of white people actively protesting on the side of road sides with signs. It was deeply humbling to see people even giving the black power salute and taking a knee.

Its never been a black only problem, and I have a lot of time for protests in places which don’t make the press.

The true horror of the Atlantic slave trade

There has been so many calls to educate people about the horrors of the Atlantic slave trade and people of colour’s history.

Its being taken more seriously and the white fragility which held it back is being pushed a side for the better of society and the future.

 

The deconstruction of systematic racism block by block

Trevor looks at how depictions of police in film and TV can skew public perception of cops and glorify officers who break laws and use violence unnecessarily on the job

Its incredible the long history of the rouge police people who get the job done with violence, pressure and intimidation. We have gotten so numb to it that we just can’t/don’t connect whats happening in cases like the central park 5 and the excessive force in the cop dramas.

The deconstruction of these cultural programming is so important in the take down of systematic racism.

A understanding its not just about the police

Systematic racism will happily throw the police under the tracks, when a good number are actively anti-racist.

The amount of positive searches

Google hasn’t released the exact figures and of course this is well produced in their favor, but its telling and interesting to see if it grows beyond summer?

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man

Emmanuel Acho sits down to have an “uncomfortable conversation” with white America, in order to educate and inform on racism, system racism, social injustice, rioting & the hurt African Americans are feeling today.

Its still early days but I quite like it, especially the discussion with Matthew McConaughey who brings up the notion of “White Allergies” – I have never heard the term

Where we were raised and how we were raised in our history growing up, there’s certain just imported obvious ways that we’re prejudiced in ways that we don’t even understand. We got white allergies and may not even know it. And so, I was sitting there, you know, looking at my own life, and I go, all right. To me, Longview High School, it’s over 50% Black. I applied to Grambling (a historically Black college). I was the first white [person] to ever work at Catfish Station, [a] Black blues bar on 6th Street. I am married to a non-white immigrant. I have Black friends all through my life and still do. But, what prejudices may I have via white allergies that I may not even be aware of?

I think like myself Acho hadn’t heard the term but got it…  He pointed to a example of backhanded compliments, such as “You don’t talk Black,” or ”You’re pretty for a Black girl.”

This reminded me of an experience I had in America on the road while getting some food, I think I was in Iowa or Wisconsin

I walked in to a takeaway place, the white woman with blonde hair  behind the counter. Says to me

“Yo yo brother, whatsup, how ya doin, whatdu want?”

I looked shocked and said in my normal English accent…

Ummmm what….!?

She was so shocked like I had suddenly changed my form completely. I can’t forget the way her face and posture changed.
It was clear she hasn’t heard a black man with a British accent and you could see her world view evaporate like a magician.blowing a puff of smoke.

Systematic racism, a look at the prison system

13th

I recently watched 13th and learned a lot including about ALEC (plus the companies which have dropped support) and the effect of systematic racism on the crime & punishment systems.

Some quotes to think about…

Prison industrial complex, the system, the industry, it is a beast. It eats black and Latino people for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I think a beast is exactly right. The beast no one wants to talk about?

Police violence, that isn’t the problem in and of itself. It’s reflection of a much larger,brutal system of racial and social control known as mass incarceration, which authorizes this kind of police violence.

Exactly what I’ve been saying. This isn’t about the police, its about the system which encourages excessive force as black lives don’t matter.

People say all the time,
“I don’t understand how people could’ve tolerated slavery. How could they have made peace with that? How could people have gone to a lynching and participated in that?
How did people make sense of the segregation, this white and colored-only drinking…
That’s so crazy.
If I was living at that time, I would have never tolerated anything like that.”
And the truth is, we are living at this time, and we are tolerating it…

Its a quote which sums it up. Its hard to see how the status-quo is the problem when you are in it.

Updated

Just today John Oliver from Last Week Tonight, makes clear the threat of Covid19 and people stuck in Jail and Prison where social distancing isn’t an option and nor is soap! As most people in American prison’s are people of colour, it doesn’t take a lot to realize how devastating this virus is in a prison.

Well worth watching if you have access to HBO or a VPN.

Systematic racism

I think this says so much…

Black communities have been telling the nation, for more than a century, that they have been targeted, beaten, falsely accused and killed by the police and other institutions meant to protect them.

They have not been believed until recently, when the rise in camera phones and social media finally enabled them show and disseminate proof.

Even after the video of George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, there remains defensiveness and denial among white Americans and institutions—a defensiveness that prevents change to the root of the problem: systemic racism. In this video, eight powerful voices share perspectives on blackness in America, and why white inaction and white politeness must end.

To learn more about what you can do to end the racist status quo, educate yourself and take action. Here is Robin DiAngelo’s list of resources: https://robindiangelo.com/resources/

Clearview AI GDPR request submitted

Clearview AI

There is so much to say about Clearview AI. If you never heard of them, well put it this way…

They have amassed a database of peoples faces by illegally scraping the likes of facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube, flickr, etc, etc… All the companies have sent legal cease and desists but Clearview don’t seem to really care too much. Recently they were hacked allowing exposing all those pictures and training data to attackers.

Because of this and my experience with the IBM Dif project, I wanted to know if I’m in the database and the best way to find out is to send a GDPR request. This all follows my GDPR request from Houseparty just recently,

I think they have gotten serious about the EU and the UK because I didn’t need to send my usual email. I filled in the form using my junk mail and used my Estonian digital ID for verification.

Look forward to seeing what comes back. I’m expecting quite a lot.

Of course IBM, Microsoft and Amazon have backed away (for now) from their facial recognition systems because the huge amount of bias of the datasets have against black people. We will see how long they will keep this line over the year and next year?

Update
In my inbox from for the two requests…

EU/UK/Switzerland Data Access Form Request
EU/UK/Switzerland Data Objection Form Request

This e-mail is to confirm that we have received your EU/UK/Switzerland Data (Access/Objection) Request. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Team Clearview

Changes due to #BlackLivesMatter

There is a lot happening around black lives matter and sometimes its worth celebrating some of small things as we move closer to a much more antiracist stance (don’t get me wrong I know its a long long way off, but hearing some news it feels closer than ever)

BLM supporter speaks out after carrying counter-protester to safety
When I saw the picture on twitter I was blown away, I read the story and then found the channel4 interview.

Reddit’s co-founder resigns, asks to be replaced by black candidate
This happened quite soon after the first set of protests and I was surprised. Reddit has had its problems in the past and this could be actually a genius move.

Removing slave and master from openZFS, GitHub abandons ‘master’ and ‘slave’ and theres been moves to remove terms like whitelist.
I remember the first time I learned to build a PC being faced with the IDE/UDMA bus with master and slave devices. It bugged me but just lived with it. Its about time it was changed because it can easily be called something else. Its only legacy which has kept it as it is.

Content warning

A number of movies and TV shows have faced up to their bias and racist prejudice. This of course has upset people but they will likely return with a content warning.

List of companies supporting black lives matter (at least on social media channels)
A nice list with a archive which will be very useful to look back in 6, 12, 18, 36 months time.

A friend (thatgirlvim) shared with me this fundraiser for a research study into Diverse & Equal Black Tech

Finally another  good friend floated this lecture series to me recently. Modernity + Coloniality A free online summer course on coloniality and decoloniality. Looks really good but I’m not so keen on the open zoom, after my experience of zoombombing.

More Police brutality in America

I found Trevor Noah was right on the money this week. Especially in the wake of the reaction to the Bristol police’s decision not to stop people pulling down the statue last week.

Warning there are some more shocking scenes of the police throwing their weight around, no one dies (this time).

I also haven’t posted this intense interactive piece on my blog. Its the last 8min 46secs of George Floyd’s life without video or sound. If you haven’t seen the videos including the NYTimes one which I posted about a while ago, this will give you a sense of the last moments of a black mans life, under the knee of the police.

Chief constable Andy Bennett was so right

 

Sorry but Chief Constable Andy Bennett was absolutely right to leave the protestors last week alone as they torn down the statute of Edward Colston.

Any kind of confrontation would have ended up in something far worst. Can you even imagine the police standing in the way of protesters defending a slave owner!

No, Andy Bennett showed incredible cultural intelligence. No matter what anyone else says.

“To arrest suspects would likely to lead to injuries to suspects, injuries to officers, and people who were not involved in damaging property being thrown into a very violent confrontation with the police that could have had serious ramifications for the city of Bristol and beyond,” Mr Marsh said.

“Can you imagine scenes of police in Bristol fighting with protesters who were damaging the statue of a man who is reputed to have gathered much of his fortune through the slave trade?

“I think there would have been very serious implications and whilst I certainly do not condone crime or damage of any sort, I fully support the actions of my officers.

Black lives matters is passing that reflection point into action?

BLM protester uses the knee which killed George Floyd while also giving the black power salute
Powerful pose, using the knee restraint which killed George Floyd while also giving the black power salute

During the Bristol Black lives matter protests on Sunday, Colston’s statute ended up in the docks. I did say there will be larger questions hung around the necks of other slave trade statutes around the UK and maybe elsewhere including America.

A lot of the discussion have been bubbling under but it feels like things are actually changing? Ok so far Robert Milligan: Slave trader statue removed from outside London museum is the only one. But questions are being asked

Cecil Rhodes: Protesters demand Oxford statue removal

The Scottish streets and monuments built on the slave trade

Slave owner statue debate ‘long overdue’ says Sturgeon

Winston Churchill: Hero or villain?

Updated

Bill Thompson made an excellent point to me via another person he knows.

Those statutes were never permanently fixed to the base. Almost like someone knew their day would come one day. So much of what we see seems unmovable but they are built on poor foundations.

Its an analogy which can apply to many different things including the system of racism or the massive tech corps currently in play.

I used to be racist

https://i1.wp.com/www.evangelicalsforsocialaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/v6rxbn.jpg?w=840

I can’t tell you how amazing it was to read a facebook post from a friend. It started with those words…

I used to be a racist…

Obviously I won’t say who, as something like this is something them may be ok with sharing with close friends but not the general public. People will judge although they should likely look in the mirror first.

This person outlined how they were not what you typically think of as a racist but rather someone who would have said 10 years ago all lives matter. They had spent most of their earlier years blind to the reality of inequality of women, different races,, people with disabilities, etc.

With a small number of people, I was named as having a significant impact on their world view. So much so, they were very happy to post black lives matter on their facebook timeline and call for the eradication of racism now. Personally this was incredible to see and read completely out of the blue.

I was blown away by this, and it gives me real hope this time we can together make enough of a dent in systematic racism.  That is what we are fighting not police, not the judges, we are fighting a system of privilege which spans centuries.

Are you culpable or a true ally?

Been back and forth about why black lives matter isn’t something you can sit on the fence with. I personally hate binary choices but its clear the middle ground is a problem. Its a problem because silence works in the favor of the system of oppression against the minority. Exactly why the #metoo movement was/is so important.

There’s been a lot of anger at the police and honestly I was crying my eyes out seeing not only Floyd’s murder but other black people’s death at the hands of police officers. I have had enough bad experiences to be weary of the police (Recently I even did the work for them before they would come and help!). I do think all the police involved in the call to the Floyds murder are culpable/responsible for his murder. Not just the one with his knee blocking his airway. But its not just the police, thats just chipping away at the surface.

Think about the courts which hand out police officer short sentences for killing black lives

Its the system of oppression/systematic racism. A system which is built on white privilege and maintains that state no matter what (shootings, throwing as many black people in prison, whatever it takes). Its even the smaller things like the gig-economy, sharing economy , waiting for a meeting, etc.  There is so much to understand and learn if we are going to change it. I say we, because… The only way to change the system is with unity from all.

This is why its been really interesting to see the amount of white people who have also joined the movement. I’m sure they realised this isn’t just a black problem. The system of oppression affects all, the more true alies the better.

I can’t believe it but Cosmo magazine actually has a really good guide to share with parents and friends who don’t understand the problem. While Vogue has a detailed ally guide.

Black lives matter protest Manchester

George Floyd mural in Manchester's Northern Quarter

I did make it to Manchester’s Black Lives Matter protest via the George Floyd mural in Stevenson Square. I stayed back and watched from a far, as I wanted to make sure I was social distanced.

BLM protest

While walking around Manchester I today I was looking at peoples faces and theres a sense of real anger but also that something might actually change?

Black Lives Matter Manchester

Although I did have an encounter with some folks I knew as I walked back. They were complaining about lots of people protesting and breaking the social distancing guidelines. I explained I was there too and left saying, when people are faced with a system which is killing you, what would you do? They left in silence.

One of the best signs I saw today was this one…

Your activism must continue after this protest

Your activism must continue after this protest…

Be the change

This is exactly where I am, right now. Protest is the first step but the next one is how to make sustainable long lasting change. We need to organize and break down the systematic state of racism.

I have thoughts and currently looking for the others. A few people have also made the point there should/could be a focus on the UK/European problems which is very much the same but sometimes more subtle in nature?