Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code

Polity Jun. 2019. 172p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781509526406. pap. $19.95. TECH
Benjamin (African American studies, Princeton Univ.; editor, Captivating Technology) has written a book that follows her previous areas of writing: how technology reinforces or breaks apart power dynamics in the United States as related to race. The author accomplishes this by exploring how demographic information is pulled together by major Internet companies and then used to target people based on, say, where they live—and by their race. In tandem with this, the author addresses the issue of facial recognition software, its failure to recognize the features of persons of color, and the reverse side, when it can be used in surveillance of persons or neighborhoods that tend to get a lot of policing. Benjamin refers to this process as modernized, coded versions of Jim Crow and draws out some of the many features of technology that have built-in personal or cultural prejudices hiding behind the supposed “objective” processing of mathematics and code.
VERDICT Fascinating reading from start to finish. Benjamin’s work is ideal for anyone who is unafraid to look at the historical intersections of racial injustice, technology, and where these topics inform possible solutions for the future.
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