You’ve heard of the old Jim Crow laws; how about the new?
The modern form of America’s past pernicious discrimination policies is called “jim code.”
Such news come from the University of Michigan, which is determined to crack the code with a wallop of wokeness.
As relayed by The College Fix, UMich is hiring three new instructors.
At issue: “professorships in racial justice and technology.”
UM announces the endeavor courtesy of its Center for Ethics, Society, and Computing (ESC), which is “dedicated to intervening when digital media and computing technologies reproduce inequality, exclusion, corruption, deception, racism, or sexism.”
“We are invested,” ESC’s webpage points out, “in the social, cultural, and political dimensions of digital technologies. We intercede in structures of power and inequality. We work with educators, workers, industrial practitioners, and policymakers.”
And now, the Center’s “partnered with three schools at the University of Michigan to coordinate a new cluster of tenure-track faculty hiring across the University of Michigan on the topic of Racial Justice in Technology.”
The openings are phrased as follows:
Professor of Racial Justice in Science & Technology Policy
Professor of Anti-Racism by Design
Professor of Anti-Racist Data Justice
Is there “structural racism” in America?
Progressively, politicians and entities offer a “Yes.”
Curiously — so far as I can tell — no one has actually identified a specific mechanism so it may be forthrightly removed.
Nonetheless, U of M confirms our structural foe and aims to battle it with binary code:
This faculty cluster in Racial Justice & Technology coalesces an emerging interdisciplinary field of research that centers structural racism produced and reproduced by information technology, design, and technology policies.
At center of the fight, among other maladies: facial recognition software.
The school explains the wicked workings of jim code:
Computational technologies such as data science, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital fabrication are touted as new enablers of efficiency, control, and objectivity. Tech companies offer facial recognition cameras marketed as accurately identifying criminals. Others sell algorithms purported to be anti-racist: they claim to improve hiring decisions and “level the playing field” for people of color. Governments are using “data-driven” tools to allocate social services. Automotive and agricultural industries hope to solve labor problems through automation.
UM asserts there is “growing concern” that such systems “reproduce and accelerate racist exclusions, violence, and exploitation via what is variously referred to as ‘surveillance capitalism,’ ‘algorithmic inequality,’ and ‘the new jim code.'”
It’s surprising the word of choice wasn’t “inequity.”
Either way, the university is leading the way in wokeness.
As I covered in September, its Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy launched the Center for Racial Justice.
Regarding race, the Center’s Racial Justice Student Initiative Fund “provides financial support for student-led racial justice initiatives that advance a more critical understanding of the social and political conditions that impact Black, Native and Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian American and Pacific Islander peoples.”
Additionally, a course is letting socially-conscious novices become masters:
The Masterclass in Activism is a widely advertised event series in which the center’s director will be in conversation with noted activists and thought leaders who have made significant marks on the policy landscape. The center will feature two speakers each year, one per semester, to participate in the masterclass series.
And earlier this month, UMich kicked a Pulitzer finalist from the classroom due to complaints of him screening a film from 1965.
It turned out that Shakespeare was too much for students to take — a white man wearing dark makeup made for a space insufficiently safe.
So how far along is the school in constructing its triumvirate of racial justice?
The Fix reports it was told progress isn’t publicly released.
However, per spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald:
“The Anti-Racism Hiring Initiative is a three-year initiative aimed at enhancing the university’s capacity to develop cutting-edge scholarship focused on dismantling systemic racism. The positions are tenure-track faculty positions.”
More from TCF:
The initiative “will ultimately add at least 20 new tenured or tenure-track faculty members with scholarly expertise in racial inequality and structural racism to schools and colleges across campus,” according to a post from The University Record, a UMich administration-ran publication that provides news to faculty and staff.
As alluded above, it seems to me social justice efforts would be better spent first finding systemic racism — that is, detecting an exact embedded racist gear in the machine — and then uninstalling it.
Wouldn’t proving structural racism’s existence be Step 1 in making it no longer exist?
The Powers That Be appear alternately intent.
Systemic racism, to semi-quote an 80’s song: One way or another, we’re (maybe) gonna find ya. We’re (possibly) gonna getcha getcha getcha.
Though, with respect to that band — and considering white privilege — we’ll preferably accomplish it without help from a blondie.
University of Michigan is on the case — times three.
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