Centre for Digital Media Cultures members want to express their deep commitment to the radical change needed to address racial oppression, discrimination and violence. We remain angered and appalled by the murder of George Floyd in the USA and we look directly to the structural conditions of violence and inequality that brought about his death. These conditions are present on our streets and harboured in our institutions creating daily experiences of oppression and discrimination for black people, and all BAME communities.
If we are not fighting these conditions, if we are not actively using our platforms to challenge racial injustice, if we do not raise our voices against racial injustice, then we tacitly give permission for racism and racist violence to persist. We must stand in solidarity, not standby. We must catalyse radical change, not allow momentum to subside and attention to waiver.
Art, research, teaching and digital practice are among the most powerfully consciousness-raising acts we can engage in. Through the digital we see how digital co-presence and networked practice enable us to see injustice and take collective action on a global scale. But as digital researchers we also know, as Helen Wachter and colleagues say, that “compared to traditional forms of discrimination, automated discrimination is more abstract and unintuitive, subtle, intangible, and difficult to detect.” Crucially, these authors speak to an absence of “signalling mechanisms” within algorithmic and automated systems for reinforcing fairness and detecting discrimination. As our homes and cities become ‘smart’ and we are increasingly ‘traced’ our specific contribution to digital vigilance and agency will become vitally important to over-turning and intervening in digitally institutionalised racism.
As a deeply interdisciplinary, research centre we understand that collaboration and leadership are central to addressing these issues. In our field, collaboration enables us to create detailed, practical understanding of technology and digital practices so that we can intervene in and over-turn digitally re-produced racism through art and practitioner-researcher co-working. Leadership creates conditions for collaboration and enables the devolution of power and agency to BAME colleagues and communities. As a centre we take seriously our collaborative and leadership responsibilities to promote individuals, amplify voices and educate ourselves and have begun our program of action against racial inequality.
We have a long way to go but fundamentally our position is this: through all our digital, intellectual and artistic practices, through all its engagements with the world, the Centre for Digital Media Culture will fight racism in all its overt, insidious and structural forms.