Black History Month 2023

As Black History Month draws to a close, we’d like to recognise some of the individuals, organisations and initiatives, who inspire us through their work challenging racism within tech, policing and our wider society.

Kids of Colour

Kids of Colour is a project for young people of colour aged 25 and under to explore ‘race’, identity and culture. Their advocacy on behalf of the Manchester 10 raised awareness of how online communications and social media can be misinterpreted and weaponised to feed into already discriminatory criminal justice practices, such as certain conspiracy charges and joint enterprise. This practice is being increasingly used by prosecutors to form gang narratives and disproportionately impact young Black men. There’s still lots to still do and we encourage you to follow their work, especially as 3 of the Manchester 10 are having their sentencing appeals heard on 3 November.

Joy Buolamwini

In 2018, Joy Buolamwini and Timnit Gebru co-wrote Gender Shades, which exposed how commercial facial recognition systems often failed to recognize the faces of Black and brown people, especially Black women. Her work has led big tech companies, including Google, IBM and Microsoft, to improve their software and reduce its bias, and deterred them from selling their technology to law enforcement. Watch the excellent documentary Coded Bias to understand more.

Abeba Birhane

Abeba Birhane is a cognitive scientist and one of the people who blew the lid on how harmful data from the darkest corners of the internet is being used to train large language models. She is the keynote speaker at the 2023 AI and Society Forum and Time Magazine has named her one of the 100 most influential people in AI.

Tracey Gyateng

Tracey Gyateng is a quantitative social researcher who has used her experience in the social sector and in the access, collection and management of quantitative data to inform decision making. Her projects have included supporting The Legal Education Foundation to develop The Justice Lab.

Patrick Williams

Patrick Williams’ outstanding work around gangs databases and tech use in policing exposes how racial biases can be embedded within institutions with power and reinforce the marginalisation of communities. Here’s one article everyone should read.

Holding our Own

Only by moving away from policing as a response to social problems, can we tackle systemic racism. Holding our Own, produced by Liberty and other partners, is a guide to tackling serious youth violence in ways that don’t harm communities but give all children a chance to thrive.

Timnit Gebru

Timnit Gebru used to co-lead of Google’s ethical AI team before the company forced her out due to a paper she wrote around the risks associated with large language models, which brought up tensions around a core line of the company’s own research.

Awate/UNJUST UK action

Musician Awate and UNJUST – a small non-profit tackling unjust policing practices – took on the UK’s largest police force and helped expose the legal flaws of the Gangs Matrix – a biased and pre-crime database that subjects a disproportionate number of young Black males to surveillance. They joined forces with Liberty and the Met are now being forced to overhaul the database.

Habib Kadiri/StopWatch

Habib Kadiri, Executive Director of StopWatch is shining a light on stop and search, and campaigning against the over policing of marginalised communities. StopWatch has been a vital partner for Open Rights Groups and many others who are challenging over policing. They have been among those keeping pace and challenging the innovations in and harmful advancement of police tech. Read this StopWatch article on facial recognition in policing.