It’s not a moment, it’s a movement.
On June 19, 2020, CCRi clarified its commitment to resisting anti-Black racism and prejudice in all its forms. Don Brown, a CCRi founder, issued a statement calling on employees to consider what they could do to eliminate systemic racism and promote equality and justice. Employee ideas were gathered and a group called the “Anti-Racist Action Committee” was formed to take specific action.
That this announcement was made on June 19 is significant, not only because this was shortly after the murder of George Floyd and in the midst of the ensuing BLM protests, but also because it was on Juneteenth, which yesterday became a federally recognized holiday. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 when more than 250,000 enslaved people in Texas finally found out that they had been freed by the emancipation proclamation of January 1, 1863, issued more than two years earlier. The slow delivery of this news demonstrates a general lack of urgency on the part of those tasked with the job to communicate it as widely and quickly as was necessary. There is a lesson here: the kind of effort that is needed to achieve full equality for all people will require action on the part of all of us who believe in this vision. We must do the work of listening to each others’ stories, creating opportunities, and pushing for structural change to dismantle the vestiges of white supremacy in our society.
To that end, the Anti-Racist Action Committee at CCRi has worked throughout this year to stand against all forms of racism. We met once a month in a book study to learn about anti-racism and to gain insight into our colleagues’ backgrounds and experiences. We teamed up with the CCRi Ethics Working Group to hear from Heather Krause from We All Count about the Data Equity Framework. We made connections with several community organizations that serve students of diverse backgrounds and income levels, like Computers 4 Kids, PVCC, and We Code, Too. We supported events run by Charlottesville Women in Tech (CWiT) and Women in Computing Sciences (WiCS) at the University of Virginia to support women of all backgrounds with an interest in technology, and we invited volunteers to participate with Code for Charlottesville to advance technology projects that aid non-profit organizations in our community. We continually seek out opportunities to discuss Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at CCRi and how we can transform our practices to be more welcoming.
While many of our actions and community connections are still in their infancy, we remain as committed as ever to work for equality. We invite all to join us.
by Melissa Phillips, GA-CCRi Data Scientist.