Black women in civil society #StandWithTimnit
Photo: Kimberly White/Getty Images
We, the undersigned, stand in support of Dr. Timnit Gebru, who we believe has been unjustly fired from her position as Staff Research Scientist and Co-Lead of the Ethical Artificial Intelligence (AI) team at Google. Her dismissal can be seen as retaliation after Timnit was doing what she has been hired to do — ensuring AI technologies at Google are ethical, after she asked for further information potentially pertaining to the censorship of her co-authored research paper.
In the tech industry, power is localized and skewed toward white males enabling a culture that marginalizes and often alienates Black folks. As Black women, we are far too familiar with navigating this dynamic and actively working to hold companies accountable for making structural and cultural changes. When we witness another Black woman reach the level of success that Timnit has, we know it has not come without many battles. Timnit’s research and work on ethical AI has been groundbreaking — and it has, and will, open up space for many other Black women, and other marginalised people to work in this space.
As women who work in civil society — organisations responsible for pushing back against Big Tech and holding them accountable, we believe we cannot try to improve folks online democratic experience without calling out Google’s silencing tactics towards Timnit for doing her job. Google has immense power and has a history of illegal behaviour towards workers.
We cannot critique Google’s harmful tech, without also critiquing their behaviour towards employees. Although Google has, and does fund some of (the critical) work needed in this space — this does not absolve them of responsibility. They cannot and should not be able to buy civil society's silence. To do so would make us complicit. We will not be complicit in the silencing of another Black woman.
We stand in support of Dr. Timnit Gebru.
We support the Google Walkout organisers and we agree with their demands.
Neema Iyer, Pollicy
Sydette Harry, Civic Tech
Mutale Nkonde, AI For The People
Tawana Petty, Data 4 Black Lives
Yeshimabeit Milner, Data 4 Black Lives
Linda Denson, Data 4 Black Lives
Jamelle Watson-Daniels, Data 4 Black Lives
Nakeema Stefflbauer, FrauenLoop & Tech in Color.eu
Bernease Herman, University of Washington
Kishonna L Gray, University of Illinois - Chicago
Ayanna D Spencer
Apryl A. Williams
Maya S Malik, Pittsburgh Native and Social Worker
Erika Gisela Abad
NII NOI ANUM
Joy Buolamwini, Algorithmic Justice League
Inioluwa Deborah Raji, Fellow, Mozilla Foundation and Algorithmic Justice League
Gaopalelwe Phalaetsile, Feministing While African
Brandeis Marshall, DataedX
Esther Mwema, Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity
Natalie Schluter, Senior Research Scientist, Google; Associate Professor, ITU
Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, The Sadie Collective
Nyah Macklin, Afros In AI
Elizabeth M. Adams
Rhoda Njeri Maina, Women's Empowerment
Francesca Sobande, Cardiff University
Carielle Doe, Phoenix Creations, Inc