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CANCELED: Scholarly Commons Speakers Series: Abolish Big Data feat. Yeshimabeit Milner

Event Type
Scholarly Commons of the University Library
220 Main Library, 1408 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL
Apr 16, 2019   4:00  
Yeshimabeit Milner, Founder & Executive Director of Data for Black Lives
No Cost
Originating Calendar
Library Calendar


Big Data is more than a collection of technologies, more than a revolution in measurement and prediction. It has become a philosophy, an ideological regime, one that determines how decisions are made and who makes them. It has given legitimacy to a new form of social and political control, one that has taken the digital traces of our existence and found ways to use them to sort and manage populations. Big Data is part of a long and pervasive historical legacy of scientific oppression, aggressive public policy, and the most influential political and economic institution that has and continues to shape this country’s economy: chattel slavery. Algorithms and other data technologies are the engines that have facilitated the ongoing evolution of chattel slavery into the Prison Industrial Complex, justified the militarization of schoolyards and borders alike, and continued the expansion of contemporary practices of peonage. This talk serves as a call to action to reject the concentration of Big Data in the hands of a few, to challenge the structures that allow data to be wielded as a weapon of immense political influence. To abolish Big Data would mean to put data in the hands of people who need it the most.

Yeshimabeit Milner is the Founder & Executive Director of Data for Black Lives. She has worked since she was 17 behind the scenes as a movement builder, technologist and data scientist on a number of campaigns. She started Data for Black Lives because for too long she straddled the worlds of data and organizing and was determined to break down the silos to harness the power of data to make change in the lives of Black people. In two years, Data for Black Lives has raised over $2 million, hosted two sold out conferences at the MIT Media Lab and has changed the conversation around big data & technology across the US and globally.

As the founder of Data for Black Lives, her work has received much acclaim. Yeshimabeit is an Echoing Green Black Male Achievement Fellow and joins the founders of Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street in the distinguished inaugural class of Roddenberry Foundation Fellows. Yeshimabeit has a BA from Brown University and serves on the board of the historic Highlander Center for Research & Education.

Data for Black Lives is a group of activists, organizers, and mathematicians committed to the mission of using data science to create concrete and measurable change in the lives of Black people. We seek to mobilize scientists around racial justice issues, bringing together data scientists, computer programmers, and racial justice activists to discuss the role that data can and should play in Black communities. http://d4bl.org/

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