Session: Race in a Digital Age: Exploring the Ways Digital Technology Inform Our Understandings of Race (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

306 Race in a Digital Age: Exploring the Ways Digital Technology Inform Our Understandings of Race

Sunday, January 19, 2020: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Treasury, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Race and Ethnicity (R&E)
William Frey, MSW, Columbia University, Cameron Rasmussen, MSW, CUNY Graduate Center, Patricia Kim, MSW, Columbia University and Kirk James, PhD, New York University
Digital technologies are becoming ubiquitous throughout our lives. Smartphones, computers, tablets, and video game consoles allow us to access information from seemingly limitless sources and communicate with incalculable amounts of people across the world. Along with enhancements in our abilities to communicate, "the digital is altering our understandings of what race is as well as nurturing new inequality along racial lines" (Nakamura & Chow-White, 2012). From videos of mass shootings driven by white supremacist racism going viral on social media, leading to vicarious trauma experienced by Black and Brown people iteratively digesting this content and search engines reinforcing racism (Noble, 2018), to Instagram models ‘Blackfishing' (people pretending to be Black using makeup) and video gamers being inundated with racist slurs while trying to enjoy themselves. When seeking to understand the current nature of racism and evaluating movements towards both reconciliation and justice, digital technologies--both as contexts where racism is proliferated and experienced, and artifacts and projects that are not racially neutral--must be considered. There remains an ever present need for social work scholarship that addresses the following questions: How do digital technologies (e.g., social media) inform our current understandings of race/racism? When considering advances in digital technology, what theoretical and practical shifts are required in racial justice work? What intersections of race, racism, and digital technologies warrant further study? What opportunities and consequences do digital technologies provide for racial justice organizing, practice, and policy moving forward? This workshop seeks to continue conversations rooted in the work of Lisa Nakamura, Safiya Noble, Jessie Daniels, danah boyd, Desmond Patton, Courtney Cogburn, and other scholars addressing digital spaces as social contexts where racism and racial inequity are enacted. Participants will engage with four main questions: 1) What have you learned about race from the digital technology throughout your lives? 2) How have your experiences in digital spaces informed the lenses through which you engage race as identity and race as a sociopolitical constructed reality and system? (3) What opportunities and concerns arise at the intersections of race and digital technologies? and 4) Does the ubiquitous nature of digital technology warrant a shift in our social work scholarship, research, and practice, specifically as it relates to race and racism? If so, what do these shifts look like? The aim of this workshop is to stimulate reflexive and responsive discussion to further scholarship and practice that explores digital technologies as: 1) not racially neutral, and 2) a critical social context impacting our contemporary understandings of race and racism; while raising questions about the intersections of digital technologies and the constructed racial reality in which we live. We will employ various pedagogical techniques to create and hold space for participants to bring their complete, authentic, and vulnerable selves. These techniques and methods include: embodiment exercises to support our participants being present; dialogic pedagogy to build moments for critical reflection, listening, and process; and cultivating a space for everyone to be challenged and consider their own role and positionality in regards to race and digital technology.
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