Antiracism in the Digital World

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DLINQ is offering this resource page as a small step toward antiracist critical design and pedagogy. While inclusive design and social justice have been integral to DLINQ’s work, we feel that antiracism needs to be specifically named and addressed.

As a cross-institutional group of instructional designers, digital scholars, student interns, and teaching and learning professionals, we are committed to using our platform and our expertise in online learning and digital technology to promote inclusive, antiracist pedagogy. DLINQ works with students, faculty, and staff to develop critical digital literacies needed to combat those threats and help foster a more diverse, inclusive, and just digital world.

On this page we highlight some of the many resources that exist to help educators adopt an antiracist approach to teaching and learning. Below you will find FAQs, resources organized by topic, and links to initiatives on our campuses. This page is not intended to be an exhaustive list and we recognize that we can’t include every potential resource. If there’s something you feel we’re missing that is critical to include, or if you’d like to offer us feedback on our practices and resources, please drop us a line via the feedback form linked at the bottom of this page.

We also want to call out the importance of everyone doing this work. Instead of asking BIPOC colleagues or student peers for resources, we encourage you to start educating yourself by drawing on existing resources. We offer this page as one resource, and we encourage you to take advantage of other resources offered by Middlebury and others (some of which are linked below).

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Our virtual spaces replicate and amplify the dangerous inequities and biases present in our physical spaces. When we think of racism in digital spaces, some of the more obvious examples include the use of racist and offensive language, imagery, or other multimedia. While it’s important to acknowledge the harmful effects of such material, we must also recognize the more subtle ways that racism is encoded in technology.

For example, the very algorithms that drive much of our online activity can reproduce and amplify racist thinking and behavior and cause harm for students on the receiving end. Instances of algorithmic bias include racist search results and facial recognition tools that fail to recognize darker skin tones. The use of surveillance technology such as online proctoring software often encodes those who are not white, cisgender, and able-bodied as “other.” If you’re booted from an exam because your proctoring software’s facial recognition tech doesn’t recognize you as a person, that has both emotional impact (dehumanization) and material impact (potential of a bad grade on test/class).

Microaggressions are another form of racism found in all types of digital spaces. They are “everyday, subtle, intentional — and oftentimes unintentional — interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups” (Microaggressions Are A Big Deal: How To Talk Them Out And When To Walk Away).

Additionally, access to high speed internet and private computers is often correlated with race and income. The choice of technology platforms and modalities for online learning, as well as how that technology is implemented, is also a question of racial equity.

It’s critical that we acknowledge all the various ways online learning can perpetuate racism and that we use this awareness to take action. Read on to find out what steps you can take.

A great place to start is to educate yourself about antiracist pedagogy. There are a wealth of resources on this topic. The Antiracist Pedagogy Reading List and the Student-generated, Annotated List of Resources on Trauma-Informed, Antiracist Pedagogy and Remote Teaching and Learning are two lists worth exploring.

You might also consider attending workshops, lectures, and reading groups to continue learning and discussing these ideas with others. Check the event calendars at the College and the Institute for upcoming programming.

It’s important in the process of learning more that you reflect on your own privileges and biases as well. You should also think about ways to (re)design your courses to be more antiracist. Some elements to consider include the course content, how you communicate with your students and how they communicate with each other, opportunities to give and receive feedback, and your approach to assessment. DLINQ offers an online course design rubric for faculty that includes suggested antiracist practices and resources you can incorporate into different aspects of your course design, from overall structure and organization to specific content, activities, and technology choices.

We realize it can be overwhelming to implement everything at once. If that’s the case for you, we recommend starting with small adjustments, being open to learning and iterating on your changes, and continuing to strive toward an antiracist pedagogy.

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decorative image showing book and article covers

Self-education and self-reflection are good places to start. We’ve included resources on this page to help you get started. It’s important in the process of learning more that you reflect on your own privileges and biases.

Raising your awareness about bias inherent in software, data, and surveillance is also recommended. Become an advocate for yourself and others in revealing and fighting against the more subtle ways that racism is encoded in technology.

We also recommend that you learn to spot microaggressions, recognize when you may be engaging in them, and practice ways to confront them if you see others engaging in them. Microaggressions are “everyday, subtle, intentional — and oftentimes unintentional — interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups” (Microaggressions Are A Big Deal: How To Talk Them Out And When To Walk Away).

If you are experiencing microaggressions or other forms of racism in your online classes or digital spaces (or you see that others are), you can reach out to your instructor, your campus office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (links in the Middlebury Resources below), and/or the Civil Rights and Title IX office at Middlebury (serves all campuses). Students at the College can also report bias incidents to the Community Bias Response Team.

We are committed to continued self-education and self-reflection, individually and as a group. As a team of largely white scholars and educators, we feel it’s important to recognize and call out our own biases and privileges, and to recognize the impacts and privileges we’ve experienced, having lived and been educated in a society rife with systemic and individual racism. Some of the steps we have been taking individually and as a group include:

In addition, through our daily work, student internship program, studio spaces, scholarship, and workshops, we are striving to:

  • Build and improve inclusive, sustainable design and pedagogy practices and processes that center antiracist, equitable, and humanizing approaches to teaching and learning through
  • Model teaching and learning that is antiracist, inclusive, and humanizing, and in which students have the opportunity to contribute their voices, experiences, and identities.
  • Design and nurture spaces, events, and opportunities, both physical and virtual, where staff, faculty, and students engage together in inquiry, research, and cultivation of topics like inclusive design and information environmentalism that help advance social justice.
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ARTICLES & WEBSITES

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BOOKS

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VIDEOS

Safiya Noble: Challenging the Algorithms of Oppression (length: 12 minutes, 18 seconds)

Ruha Benjamin in conversation about “The New Jim Code” (length: 24 minutes, 35 seconds)

MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE, VERMONT

To learn more about antiracism initiatives at the College, please visit:

We also encourage you to visit the College’s event calendar for information on guest speakers, workshops, and more.

MIDDLEBURY INSTITUTE, MONTEREY

To learn more about antiracism initiatives at the Institute, please visit:

We also encourage you to visit the Institute’s event calendar for information on guest speakers, workshops, and more.

FEEDBACK & SUGGESTIONS

If there’s something you feel we’re missing that is critical to include on this page, or if you’d like to offer us feedback on our practices and resources, we welcome your thoughts using the form below.