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Ron Eglash to speak at the National Science Policy Network webinar on Afrofuturism in Science Policy and Education

Tuesday, 02/02/2021

University of Michigan School of Information Professor Ron Eglash will discuss implications from his CHI2020 paper "Race-positive Design: A Generative Approach to Decolonizing Computing,” at the National Science Policy Network webinar on Afrofuturism in Science Policy and Education

The paper, co-written by Audrey Bennett (University of Michigan), Michael L. Lachney (Michigan State University)  and William Babbitt (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), looks at the benefits of incorporating celebrations of race into anti-racist curriculum.

"Removing racial bias from algorithms is necessary, but alone it is insufficient,” says Eglash. “The ‘bias’ framework tends to treat race as unwanted noise. Just as feminists developed sex-positive feminism in the 1970s, we now need race-positive design. The 1960s slogan ‘Black is Beautiful’ is a simple but powerful example; AfroFuturism is its contemporary descendent."

Eglash and his co-authors want to expand the focus of decolonizing computing to include “the application and assessment of African fractals, Native American bio-computation; urban artisanal cyborgs and other hybrid forms in which race-positive technology design can make important contributions.”

Elgash says race-positive design does not ignore critiques of racism. “Rather, it enables thinking about race as a positive presence—as cultural capital, histories of resistance, bindings between lands and peoples—and the means by which it can be a generative force in technologies for just and sustainable futures.”

The webinar takes place on Zoom on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. EST. It is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

- Jessica Webster, UMSI PR Specialist