"My Brain Database Doesn't See Skin Color"

Jessie Daniels
2015 American Behavioral Scientist  
INTRODUCTION Color-blind racism infuses the business and theory of the popular Internet. The U.S. technology industry is worth over $126.3 billion and accounts for more than 55 percent of global Internet and Communication Technology (ICT) research and development (Galama and Hosek, 2008) . It relies on a workforce of more than 2 million people, a majority of who work in small to medium software and information technology (IT) companies with fewer than 500 employees (Buckley and Montes, 2002) .
more » ... longside this very large, profitable business, a smaller, cottage industry of theorizing about the web has emerged. The IT industry (hereafter, the tech industry) and the cottage industry of theorizing about it share an embrace of color-blind racism. The mechanisms of color-blind racism are evident in the way that people imagine the Internet, the way the industry has created an array of specific technologies known as "the Internet", and in the theories developed to explain the Internet. Within each of these domains, color-blind ideology contributes to the reproduction of racial inequality that, in turn, (re)shapes the Internet as fantasy, technology, and theory. In order to explore the multifaceted dimensions of color-blind racism in the technology industry and the theorizing about it, this paper presents a theoretical synthesis of scholarly literature, the cultural artifacts of technoculture, and popular accounts of the technology industry. To do this, I examine three interconnected notions about color-blind racism and the Internet. The first idea I explore is the PRE-PRINT of: Daniels, Jessie. ""My Brain Database Doesn't See Skin Color" Color-Blind Racism in the Technology Industry and in Theorizing the Web." American Behavioral Scientist 59, no. 11 (2015Scientist 59, no. 11 ( ): 1377Scientist 59, no. 11 ( -1393 2 fantasy that the Internet as a technology is color-blind with regard to race. The second notion is the way that color-blind racism operates in the tech industry. And, the third concept I examine is the way color-blind racism manifests in theorizing the web, by which I mean both popular theorizing of the web and academic Internet studies. In this theorizing, developed both inside and outside the academy, race is either completely ignored, or contained either as a 'variable' in quantitative studies, or in more qualitative studies as an 'identity' that inheres exclusively in people of color but that leaves the way race is embedded in structures, industry, and the very idea of the Internet largely unexamined.
doi:10.1177/0002764215578728 fatcat:edyaytzi3jcjbi36kpwzgqcc5m