2019 Critical Race and Digital Studies Conference

On May 28, 2019, CR+DS hosted an ICA post conference to convene scholars, scholars, and practitioners to discuss race, technology, and the future. The day-long event was recorded by C-SPAN. If you missed the event, the videos are publicly available.

Tuesday, May 28 at NYU Washington DC (1307 L St NW, Washington, DC 20005)


This one-day International Communication Association post-conference on May 28, 2019, seeks to bring together established and emerging scholars of race and technology to critically reflect on ways that race and inequality structurally organizes and manifests in digital architectures, individual and collective identities, local and global communities, cultural practices, and power relations.


9:00 am – Coffee and Breakfast

9:15 am – Introductory Remarks by Charlton McIlwain (Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University)

9:30 – 10:45 am – What’s at Stake: Race x Technology
With Meredith Clark (Assistant Professor, Department of Media Studies, University of Virginia); André L. Brock (Associate Professor, School of Literature, Media, and Communication, Georgia Tech University ); Catherine Knight Steele (Assistant Professor of Communication, University of Maryland); and Desmond Patton (Founding Director of SAFE Lab, Columbia University); moderated by Brandi Collins (Senior Campaign Director, Color of Change)

11:00 am – 12:15 pm – Legal & Policy Frameworks for Understanding the Impact of Racialized Digital Technologies
With Jessica Eaglin (Associate Professor of Law, Indiana University); Margaret Hu (Associate Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University); and Anne Washington (Assistant Professor of Data Policy, New York University); moderated by Tara Ramchandani (Partner, Relman, Dane & Colfax)

How can we begin to address the digital rights of people traditionally covered under legal frameworks for protected classes? Artificial intelligence can entrench existing bias by building targets based on past discriminatory practices. Algorithms intended to help vulnerable populations can be shared with organizations that intend to marginalize them. Large private corporations are managing data about populations that is traditionally considered under the jurisdiction of governments.  These and other examples of automatic classifications using predictive technology are challenging existing laws, regulation and public policy. This panel will consider how to shift existing governance mechanisms to provide better accountability for understanding the impact of race and technology.

12:30 – 2 pm – Break

2:00 pm – 3:15 pm – (Re)Defining Technologies: A Roundtable on Interventions & Resistance
With Christina Aushana (Department of Communication, University of California – San Diego); Mychal Odom (Department of English, San Diego University); Angela Peñaredondo (Assistant Professor of Creative Writing & Digital Media, California State University San Bernardino); and Kiran Samuel (Department of Sociology, Columbia University); moderated by Tara Pixley (Assistant Professor of Journalism, Loyola Marymount University)

This roundtable discussion explores the the varied definitions of technology as it relates to the lived black and brown experience in a networked world. Building on conversations and presentations of CR+DS scholars, this roundtable provides space to further explore questions of interventions in the digital realm or utilizing various technologies for survival. Specifically, scholars discuss how the definition of technology varies and expands as it intersects with race, lived experiences, and community practices.

3:30 – 4:45 pm – Justice, Inclusion, and Imagining and Building Alternative Platforms
With Matthew Bui (Doctoral Candidate and Annenberg Fellow, USC Annenberg School for Communication); Aymar Jean Christian (Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Northwestern University); Sarah Jackson (Associate Professor of Communication, Northeastern University); and Tonia Sutherland (Assistant Professor of Information and Computer Sciences, University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa); moderated by Lori Kido Lopez (Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

This panel explores the question of how we can use new media technologies for the specific purposes of racial justice and inclusion.  Scholars will discuss efforts toward anti-racist interventions, including alternative media productions, archives, hashtag campaigns, and counter-mapping platforms.  Building on their wide array of experiences, the panelists will discuss potential lessons, themes, and strategies for a more radically and racially inclusive future of new media and technologies, within and outside of extant pipelines of production, distribution, and consumption. In all, this discussion seeks to engage and learn from extant scholarship-activism aimed at combating the flattening discourses of diversity and multiculturalism.

5 – 6 pm – Keynote: Artificial Intelligence and the New Jim Code

With Ruha Benjamin (Associate Professor in the African American Studies, Princeton University) and Meredith Broussard (Associate Professor of Journalism, New York University)

6:00 – 6:15 pm – Closing by Charlton McIlwain (Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University)

6:30 – 7:30 pm – Reception & Syllabus Launch

Organizing Committee: Meredith Broussard, Matthew Bui, Brooklyne Gipson, Rachel Kuo, Lori Kido Lopez, Charlton McIlwain, Tara Pixley, Karla Reyes, Catherine Knight Steele, Erique Zhang