The trends are obvious: with the automation of all manual processes on an exponential pathway, tomorrow’s bank heists use brain, not brawn. There may be highly lucrative pastimes for hobbyist mathematicians that obviate the need for brandishing the rolling thunder of this genius rap duo’s quite formidable arsenal.
Will the ultimate legacy of #MeToo be the creation of a new glass ceiling for women? The hashtag evolved from powerful beginnings into an adversarial wave. It needed care; none was taken. Those who plead for caution in the Deneuve Letter were publicly sandblasted. I understood the thrill of score-settling, but a new kind of gender-specific workplace injury was always likely be to the end result.
Whether care was taken or otherwise, a reactionary corporate collective “punishment beating” of sketchy legal standing that hurts all women in the professions is not the right way to respond. At all. You wouldn’t think that sexual harassment itself was all that difficult to define:
In order to head off the problem coming down the track, Sheryl Sandberg has pulled together MentorHer, a kind of “Pence Rule” Kryptonite – designed to facilitate working relationships that encourage the growth of female junior colleagues into more senior roles. That it appears to hinge on goodwill is an issue. The upside being sold to fearful, risk-averse management is diversity: diverse workplaces perform better!The data is in. The case, however, has been poorly made and largely falls on deaf ears.
the hush following @lemnsissay’s plea for diversity at #futr16 was like the awkward silence of an outlaw walking into a bar in a western…
Even if this idea gains traction, diversity itself has become a problematic monocultural paradigm in its implementation. Worse, racial representation is infamously ignored at the company where Sandberg herself makes her name.
Initiatives like #MentorHer need joined-up thinking to succeed – and it can work, but but only if the performance/ profit case for diverse workplaces is made front and centre, reflected in powerful organisations like Sandberg’s own social media colossus which comes up short year in, year out. Money talks.
We must remember the context of the times in which these Great Leaps Forward were being made: the Industrial Revolution, the subjugation of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of millions of innocent people that fuelled it.
Europe was busy carving up the African continent at the time and using it’s military might to destroy great, ancient cities upon which its civilisation were built. Scores of African cities, libraries and centres of learning were razed to the ground by the armies of England, France and Germany.
Our Forgotten History
Malicious, deliberate acts of erasure have Black people, in the absence of records, endlessly re-inventing the wheel – unaware that we pioneered the same fields hundreds and even thousands of years before. The achievements of Ada Lovelace, as mighty as they are, must then be placed into the historical context of a world in which Black flesh and bones were (and still are) expendable.
We were quite simply the consumables that powered the railways, steam engines and funded Brunel’s terrific feats of engineering.
Survival, Resistance, Mathematics
We would do well to remember, if we will, that modernity is built upon a legacy – one of a mathematics and binary principles that emerged on African shores long before Europe emerged blinking from the Dark Ages into the light of the Renaissance. It’s legacy we must build upon if we are to forge our technological independence.
I returned, jubilant!, from a small-but-perfectly-formed conference in The Smoke to a sadness. While we listened, dialogued and wondered whether science could be decolonised – an expression of similar movements on-campus around the world – Chuck Berry died. Damn. Seriously, why man? I’ve tired of asking.
The need to innovate and make that next sh*t is a primary drive in Black cultural production.
We invent new forms, and re-imagine the old:
The same is true of all forms to which African-descent people have access. The question is one of access. The unseen forces, the Dark Matter of Black cultural production bends all to its will, re-making a thing in its own image.
Black Twitter is a force. It’s also not particularly well understood by those who aren’t a part of it. The term is used to describe a large network of black Twitter users and their loosely coordinated interactions, many of which accumulate into trending topics due to the network’s size, interconnectedness, and unique activity.
There’s an opportunity here. I think that Black hackers twist things and invent and bend ones-and-zeroes to their will, the way everything else must obey our cultural vodun.
The point is rhetorical: not to recreate the old, but invent what comes next. We are a force – under-served and under-valued, as per. To assume that coders focused on Black audiences are bound to be ignored, and the things we imagine must be derivative, marginal efforts, doomed for the digital knacker’s yard is off. I say: let’s form all-Black hacker collectives and throw down. I say: what we make blows the fuck up, like always.
The problems I see down the road are different: how do maintain control of the fruits of our labour? The issue is so persistent, it bears thinking about now.
The premise of Jack Hamilton’s deep new study Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination seems like something that’s been on rock history’s tongue for a long time without ever quite leaving it. Chuck Berry, a black man with a guitar, had been a rock and roll archetype in 1960, but by the end of the decade Jimi Hendrix would be seen as rock’s odd man out for being… a black man with a guitar. How did that occur? “Tracing the Rock and Roll Race Problem” an interview in Pitchfork.
The relationship between Europe and Africa, white culture to Black, is that of vampire and victim.
Colonialism is the parasitical asset-stripping of our resources – material, creative, cultural.
Serving the computing needs of Black audiences – domestically and in the Diaspora – is also a hedge against the under-employment faced by computer science graduates who can’t get jobs in Silicon Valley, or face hostile working environments once they do. Given all of that, I’m optimistic. I think we can do this.
This is a really good introduction to the ideas behind Afrofuturism, and why it matters. The first part is here (via Colorlines).
Imagination matters. It takes courage to imagine yourself in a future and define it your way, as a place where you exist, are wanted, and can flourish. You won’t find it on Netflix. We are the underground – but most heroes worth a damn are punching up.
People are kicking back against systemic oppression. Those hard days, marching against deaths in police custody, I wondered if this day would ever come. Technology has networked our minds; the internet has folded experience in on itself and allowed us to share our experiences – and practice. Hashtags allow us to connect our experiences, to join Walter Scott and Eric Garner to Rekia Boyd and Sandra Bland. The struggle is the same as it ever was, but we can more easily compare notes. We know what to do, now. That’s the difference.