Death and taxes used to be the only two certainties in life. But no matter how much progress it feels like we’re making sometimes, the sad fact is you can probably slide racism into that list. Are we in a moment of uprising that feels like it has the potential to create real, systemic change? Yes. Do people and organizations still show their ass on a daily basis? Oh, most definitely. And to keep tabs on all that ass-showing, we’re pleased to introduce our weekly racism surveillance machine. If you already get our newsletter, Minority Report, you’ve likely seen this, but now the rest of the internet can get a taste.
🗑 Great, now the machines are racist too
Oh, Twitter. Like so many other social media platforms that give us fire memes but have also contributed to the frightening erosion of social norms and even democracy itself, we love you and hate you. And we always assumed you felt the same way about us; now, though, we’re beginning to think it’s a little bit more of the second one. Late last week, Canadian PhD student Colin Madland discovered that Twitter’s algorithm had cropped an image of him and a Black co-worker so that only his (White) face showed in the image preview. That began a deluge of people’s self-administered experiments, and time and time again Twitter’s algorithm failed the tests — displaying Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell instead of former President Barack Obama, a golden retriever instead of a black Lab, and even The Simpsons’ Carl instead of Lenny. This is by no means the first instance of this sort of thing: Face-recognition software and algorithms have long been terrible at reading Black folks’ faces, and Madland only stumbled on his find because he was trying to figure out why Zoom kept erasing his co-worker’s head. Twitter has since accepted the blame for not doing a stringent enough analysis of its new feature. No word yet on apologizing for the whole downfall of society thing, though. (The Guardian)
🗑 New York school board president definitely knows what “White privilege” means (mostly because he embodies it)
Welcome to this week’s episode of Local Elected Official Gets Big Racist on Facebook! After last season’s cliffhanger — would local elected officials continue to embarrass themselves by being wild racist? — we’re all relieved to discover that yes, yes they will. In fact, they seem genetically unable to stop! This time around, it’s Thomas Corbia, president of the Port Chester School Board in New York’s suburban Westchester County. Seems ol’ Thomas Corbia was tickled by a Facebook post his (also old, White) friend shared. “I’m selling my White privilege card,” read the post. “It’s just over 77 years old, and it hasn’t done a damn thing for me. No inheritance, no free college, no free food, no free housing, etc. I may even be willing to do an even trade for a race card. Those seem way more useful and more widely accepted.” See, because White privilege doesn’t exist if you bought a house or paid for college — in fact, it was just as difficult to get those things as if you were Black! Yup, redlining and educational bias are just as mythical as White privilege. Anyway, Corbia commented on his buddy’s post to say “you are the f****** best and whoever doesn’t like that post, well they know what they can do.” He was right, people did know what they can do: put his ass on blast! Now, of course, ol’ Thomas Corbia is saying he got hacked. And he’s doing so in the language of someone who definitely knows what hacking is and is definitely telling the truth: “I was hacked into the internet and then hacked again I guess sometime in late August or early September,” he said during a virtual school board meeting last week. So, ya know, next time your phone’s acting up, call your buddy Thomas “Geek Squad” Corbia. He’s got you covered. (News 12 Westchester)
🗑 Trump calls anti-racism “child abuse,” which makes him, what, Santa Claus?
For whatever reason, President Donald Trump has decided that the only thing left to endear him to voters is to level attacks at the 1619 Project — and indeed, at anyone who acknowledges that the laws and history of this country might not be as fair and just as [checks notes] the draft-dodging son of a Klan-defending racist slumlord thinks. In his most recent angry tirade, Trump claimed that he’d be issuing an executive order forming something called the 1776 Commission, which, like this country itself, depends on slave labor and exists only because of the genocide committed against its land’s original inhabitants, will create a “patriotic curriculum” for schools. Sounds promising! The problem, Trump continued, was that teaching the way race and racism informed our history was “a form of child abuse in the truest sense of those words.” The truest sense, like the way Republican Congressman Jim Jordan allegedly covered up rampant sexual abuse of college athletes when he was a wrestling coach? Or the way Trump wished Ghislaine Maxwell, who for years helped Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage women, well? The truest sense of child abuse is in teaching them the truth, we guess. Thanks for saving us, DJT. (NBC News)