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This month Dr. Ruha Benjamin will join us to discuss her book Race After Technology : Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code, which received of the 2020 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize Nonfiction Award. The text is available at BPL in eBook and physical formats.

Summary, as provided by publisher: From everyday apps to complex algorithms, Ruha Benjamin cuts through tech-industry hype to understand how emerging technologies can reinforce white supremacy and deepen social inequity. Far from a sinister story of racist programmers scheming on the dark web, Benjamin argues that automation has the potential to hide, speed, and even deepen discrimination, while appearing neutral and even benevolent when compared to racism of a previous era. Presenting the concept of the New Jim Code, she shows how a range of discriminatory designs encode inequity: by explicitly amplifying racial hierarchies, by ignoring but thereby replicating social divisions, or by aiming to fix racial bias but ultimately doing quite the opposite. Moreover, she makes a compelling case for race itself as a kind of tool a technology designed to stratify and sanctify social injustice that is part of the architecture of everyday life. This illuminating guide into the world of biased bots, altruistic algorithms, and their many entanglements provides conceptual tools to decode tech promises with sociologically informed skepticism. In doing so, it challenges us to question not only the technologies we are sold, but also the ones we manufacture ourselves.

About the author: Ruha Benjamin is a sociologist and professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.

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Note: The Macon Pageturners read and discuss fiction and non-fiction from across the African Diaspora. This program is offered through the African American Heritage Center (AAHC), housed at the Macon Library. AAHC programs are open to anyone, and everyone, interested in celebrating, exploring, and discussing the African Diaspora. If you have questions please contact Sheena at [email protected] 

This AAHC virtual program will take place via Zoom. For optimal participation, you will need either a computer with audio and webcam or a telephone. A link and number to access the meeting will be sent to registrants one hour before the meeting, so please keep an eye out for the email (and check your spam folder if you don't see it!).  

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