We’re changing the system with this one”: Black students using critical race algorithmic literacies to subvert and survive AI-mediated racism in school


Purpose – This paper aims to center the experiences of three cohorts (n ¼ 40) of Black high school students who participated in a critical race technology course that exposed anti-blackness as the organizing logic and default setting of digital and artificially intelligent technology. This paper centers the voices, experiences and technological innovations of the students, and in doing so, introduces a new type of digital literacy: critical race algorithmic literacy.

Design/methodology/approach – Data for this study include student interviews (called “talk backs”), journal reflections and final technology presentations.

Findings – Broadly, the data suggests that critical race algorithmic literacies prepare Black students to critically read the algorithmic word (e.g. data, code, machine learning models, etc.) so that they can not only resist and survive, but also rebuild and reimagine the algorithmic world.

Originality/value – While critical race media literacy draws upon critical race theory in education – a theorization of race, and a critique of white supremacy and multiculturalism in schools – critical race algorithmic literacy is rooted in critical race technology theory, which is a theorization of blackness as a technology and a critique of algorithmic anti-blackness as the organizing logic of schools and AI systems.


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T. Chante Tanksley
English Teaching Practice & Critique
Cultural Relevance, Equity, and Diversity
DEI Advisory Resource
Publication Year