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Reflections on Black in Computing

By Q. Brown, T. Grandison, J. D. Burge, O. C. Jenkins, T. Dillahunt

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 64 No. 4, Pages 23-24

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In June 2020, a community of Black people in computing from around the world published an open letter,a initiated by the authors, and a call for actionb to the global computing community. The letter began with, "The recent killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police has sparked a movement that began at the birth of our nation. Though George Floyd may have been the most recent instance, we should not forget the lives of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Philando Castille, Tanisha Anderson, Atatiana Jefferson, Eric Garner, Charleena Lyles, Eula Love, Michael Brown, Khalif Browder, Botham Jean, Tamir Rice, Latasha Harlins, Amadou Diallo, Mary Turner, Emmett Till, and too many other Black people who have been murdered …"

At the time, we reflected on this history of the killing of Black people in the U.S. and noted that these killings not only show the ultimate outcomes and harms that racist systems and institutions have on Black people, but they also spotlight the constant emotional and psychological strain that Black Americans endure. The accumulated experience of the Black computer science community highlights the magnitude of injustices that countless members of our community experience. During the course of performing our jobs, we endure general mistreatment and we face a lack of support, demonization, and erasure of our (Black) academic and professional expertise. We know it is important that we persist in raising concerns about discrimination and prejudices that Black professionals experience, which are often common practice in the field. Further, we are acutely aware that organizational policies are currently optimized to exclude non-white males.


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