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“Under Sampled Majority”

Hey all!

We’re almost halfway through the semester (I think) and we’ve been deliberately taking our time. Please DM me if you need any support or feel lost or just want to say hello. I’m here for you and want this asynchronous space to still feel human.

I want to jump back into thinking critically about the fields inside engineering. This goes for everyone, but especially for Computer Science majors — have you considered the ways in which your field has bias? the ways your field has a profound impact on how society is shaped?

I’m not sure if these questions are being raised in your Grove courses (I hope they are! Tell me if they are!) and since we’re considering both rhetoric and composition, these questions must be taken into account. 

For this week, I would like you to watch this 13 minute talk by Dr. Joy Buolamwini about facial recognition and the effects when the sample set skews white and male.

For the module comment, I would like you to consider the following:

Take note of 2-3 rhetorical issues Dr. Buolamwini raises that speak to you. For me, it was her reframing of the “under-sampled majority” as a way to think about who is represented in most technological spaces and who is erased. So often we say “minority” when speaking about the people of the global majority who are not white and that set standard creates an intentional bias which has real implications (think policing, thinking community funding, think incarceration rates)

Have you ever considered algorithmic bias when using your devices?

What are some ways we can shift the dominant data set?

If you have an experience of algorithmic bias that you want to share, I welcome it in this space but it is not required. Or if you want to add your experience to Dr. Buolamwini, I think that would be fantastic.

Thanks everyone for staying engaged and enjoy the rest of your week!

Asynchronous Welcome!

Hi! My name is Andréa Stella, I go by Andréa. I use she/her pronouns. 

And this semester I am trying a fully asynchronous course. I think that in both our current pandemic conditions and also late stage capitalism, in person requirements are wholly inaccessible for most students (and me).

This class is about access. This class is about abolition and the pursuit of collective freedom within/from an inherently harmful institution known as academia, or in the words of Bettina Love “the educational survival complex” that is functioning exactly as it is meant to: as an exclusionary and gatekeeping force that is interested primarily in replicating itself. In replicating colonial oppressive structures of whiteness.

Why am I starting off the semester with this conversation, especially in a Writing for Engineering course with you, STS (science, technology, and society) students? Because these questions and conversations of whose voice is privileged, whose voice goes unheard, and how to function within our respective fields (mine being English Composition and Rhetoric, yours being the catch-all of engineering or “undecided”) is irreducibly linked to how we write (composition!) and who we write for (rhetoric!)

I want to quickly draw attention to some points on the syllabus:

  • If you are enrolled in this course, you receive an A. I added a link to the article that gives more details about this pedagogical approach. TL/DR: grades are gatekeeping bullshit with no proof of supporting anyone’s learning. If you have other professor’s who need to get this memo, feel free to share my email with them.
  • We’ll be doing “Works In Progress” (WIPs) over the course of the semester so that you can practice writing and contemplate some abolitionist theory. Since we’ve already established that you’re getting an A for this course, the WIPs are really for your benefit to get more comfortable writing so that you can play the part when a less accommodating professor asks for you to complete a writing assignment.
  • I am disabled, have a full time job at a coffee company, am a PhD student at the Graduate Center, and mother to two young kiddos aka I am as busy as most of you. I will do my best to have the asynch class posted in a timely manner each week and will be using Slack for most of our communication. OH and fuck grind culture, it’s rooted in *you guessed it* white supremacy. We should all be learning from Tricia Hersey’s Nap Ministry and rest as revolutionary praxis.
  • Best way to get in touch with me is a Slack DM, I’m really responsive on it. Emails tend to get lost because CCNY sends so much spam, and I’m a Gemini so I’m historically shitty responder in the best of circumstances.
  • I’m here for you! Let me know how I can support you within or outside of this class! I offer reference letters, resume editing, whatever you need to get on with your life, please ask me.
  • My citations are a demonstrative Black feminist practice, let this be a jump off point to think about what we cite and why.
  • Curiosity Journal: Send me a Slack DM and this first week just give me a quick introduction, if you want to do a 30 second video or something telling me who you are, what year you’re in, what your major is and maybe if/how you’re coping with the pandemic.

Bibliography

Hersey, Tricia. “The Nap Ministry.” The Nap Ministry, thenapministry.wordpress.com. Accessed 23 Aug. 2021.

Kaba, Mariame. “Abolition Is a Collective Vision: An Interview With Mariame Kaba.” The Nation, 2 Apr. 2021, www.thenation.com/article/culture/mariame-kaba-interview-til-we-free-us.

Love, Bettina. We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom. Beacon Press, 2020.

Reed, Conor Tomás. “A for All (Yes, All!): Transforming Grading during COVID-19.” Medium, 3 May 2020, medium.com/@conortomasreed/a-for-all-yes-all-transforming-grading-during-covid-19-a3a24de4e249.

“STS Program » About » What Is STS?” Harvard.edu, sts.hks.harvard.edu/about/whatissts.html. Accessed 23 Aug. 2021.
Truss, Joe. “Exclusive Interview with Dr. Bettina Love – Music, Politics, & Abolitionist Leadership.” Culturally Responsive Leadership, 26 Jan. 2020, culturallyresponsiveleadership.com/bettina3.

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