I simply don’t enjoy the remote bits as much as I thought I would. Following a series of Zoomy webinar formats (for scheduled speaking events) I felt hollow. Although I request attendees be allowed to raise hands and leave their video and mics live--not one host has acquiesced. Interactivity is paramount to engaging with your data or your data questions no?
Maybe you don’t realize how weird it is but basically you are talking to your own face for 45 minutes to an hour. Narrative stories need an audience--not a theoretical invisible one--a curious and engaged group lobbing questions over the fence. Especially when topics hover around racial bias or underserved populations.
It seems only yesterday I was toying with ideas in search of meaningful dialogue. Finding true merit in a deep river was one such post but there are many. Before COVID I was teaching the data curious how to use CENSUS data to ask meaningful questions around poverty--not the almost 60 year old definition, but actual poverty. I am currently using the blog and newsletter as a data diary. It allows me to get a few ideas out in the world to re-examine once I need to create several talks a month. Maybe I should think of it was an idea library...
I rely on IPUMS Current Population Survey data for granularity around food insecurity. These variables are the “grammar” you need to create a powerful story.
I am often asked to talk about diversity, under-served populations, and bias in healthcare algorithms. Digital racism although well meaning, ignores the system level problem. While we are frantically shining flashlights in the darkness of our ignorance--there is a menacing commonality to all of the chest pounding and activism.
We were founded by racism. Plain and simple. The sooner we all get onboard the sooner we can create policy to address these social constructs that marginalize and limit opportunities for all of our citizens. Did COVID really create a racial divide in education, healthcare, and economies? Or did it reveal what has always been there? Providing meals, safety, upward mobility, socialization, an education--a daunting task for the nation’s poor.
Think of the evictions. How many of you have heard of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act? It is the primary legislations responsible for educating at-risk children and those facing or experiencing homelessness. Yes, it is easier to blame floundering governors and mayors for keeping schools closed, then opened, and then closed again.
We need to revisit what is contributing to homelessness--A wave of evictions is on the horizon. What impact could they have on kids' education?But I suggest the story is around how “access” is being defined and how already cash-strapped communities are intended to fund additional support.
And when we discuss remote learning there is historical precedence and research we need to consume. Where Platform Capitalism and Racial Capitalism Meet: The Sociology of Race and Racism in the Digital Society
As the state legitimizes the use of digital and algorithmic decision making, it also creates new data worlds (Gray 2018; Milan and van der Velden 2016) to which few sociologists have access. The inaccessibility of these data is part of their value to state and capital interests. Private data worlds where decision making can be veiled from democratic inquiry fuel economic and political commitment to more datafication. This brings about more secrecy.--Tressie McMillan Cottom, Where Platform Capitalism and Racial Capitalism Meet: The Sociology of Race and Racism in the Digital Society
The Gini index below shows how black populations experience higher rates of inequality. Yes, there is a little more to it but you can see how developing skills around data sourcing and formulating meaningful questions can add much to curating empathy and insights.
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In a world of "evidence-based" medicine I am a bigger fan of practice-based evidence.
Remember the quote by Upton Sinclair...
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”