Recently at Hack the Hood, we’ve been talking about what joy means. Contrary to what you might assume, these conversations have sometimes been heavy. We are a majority Black and Latinx team, and, in line with Hack the Hood’s impact, everyone on the team is passionate about access, equity, and racial justice.
2020 and the beginning of 2021 have been trying for us. We’ve experienced George Floyd’s murder, the Breonna Taylor ruling, Sean Monterrosa’s murder, November 3–5, and January 6 — all with COVID as the backdrop. For organizations rooted in equity, joy has been difficult to find at times.
When I write of joy here, I’m not referring to the Pollyanna, “everything is wonderful,” kind of joy. Nothing about continued state-sanctioned murder of Black and Latinx people is joyful. Nothing about Indigenous, Latinx, and Black people dying of COVID at disproportionate rates because of a lack of quality healthcare is joyful. Nothing about racism, both external and internalized, brings joy to our communities.
Yet, I have a firm belief that honoring Black History is inherently about joy. It’s an opportunity to celebrate our ancestors and the paths they paved for us and all BIPOC globally. Black History Month is a time to think about the future — what legacy will we leave? What will our contributions be to the thriving of Black lives and Black futures?
Framing February as Black Futures Month is an act of imagination, possibility, and joy for our communities. What’s more resistant and simultaneously abundant than joy?
At Hack the Hood, we are trying to reimagine racial justice as a path for joy in our communities. Black Futures Month means we are learning from our past to build an organizational legacy that will continue to have a generational impact in Oakland, the Bay Area, and nationally.
Our theme for this Black Futures Month is #BlackDataMatters. We highlight Black historians and data scientists, like W.E.B. DuBois (The Philadelphia Negro) and Ida B. Wells (A Red Record). While we may not think of them as data scientists by today’s definition, their early truth-telling through data ensured the voices and perspectives of Black lives were centered. We’ll talk about modern day #BlackDataMatters with quotes from Dr. Ruha Benjamin (Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code) and Dr. Safiya Noble (Algorithms of Oppression). We’ll end the month highlighting the future of #BlackDataMatters by profiling Hack the Hood alumni studying data science who are poised to influence the future of data.
#BlackDataMatters is an ode to Hack the Hood’s new data science curriculum and programming updates. We believe it is our responsibility to design a curriculum that is innovative, rigorous, and human-centered. Our mission is to:
Ensure economic mobility for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous learners by providing them foundational tech and data literacy skills and access to identity-affirming career opportunities.
We envision a world where these communities have equal access to wealth-generating career paths and are at the forefront of creating technologies that support economically and racially-just communities.
With tech foundations and data literacy skills, we want to ensure Hack the Hood alumni are best prepared for the future of work. Beyond these skill sets, we understand the importance of sociopolitical education. We know learning how to thrive — how to find joy — in professional spaces built intentionally to lockout Black, Latinx, and Indigenous peoples is more important than learning Python. You can learn more about how we plan to do this by reading our education philosophy here.
This is the legacy we want to leave. As we honor our ancestors this month, we reflect on the ancestors we want to become. I challenge Hack the Hood’s supporters to find the joy that is inherently rooted in equity work. While we may struggle at this moment, we do this work because we imagine a liberated future is possible — and that is joyful. It’s what drives us. It’s what gives us cause to celebrate this month.
Happy Black Futures Month!