Racism and the Struggle for Digital Rights

Racism and the Struggle for Digital Rights

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Thursday, Jul. 11 9:00 AM

Ends: Thursday, Jul. 11 10:00 AM

Room: 115B

The struggle for the digital rights of communities of color is a central issue in the fight for racial justice. Large corporations and our government are using digital tools that further cement a white racial hierarchy in our society in the pursuit of profits and political power. Companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google are providing a megaphone for racists to spread hate speech and algorithms that discriminate against people of color. Government agencies are also using the tools of surveillance to criminalize communities of color. Panelists will discuss the actions they are taking to challenge these powerful institutions to ensure the digital sovereignty of communities of color—and what you can do to get involved.


Collette Watson


Collette is responsible for managing and unifying content across Free Press’ digital channels to engage the organization’s 1.4 million members and the broader public. This includes writing, design, multimedia production and content planning to support a variety of campaigns for media and technology equity. A native of Gullah country South Carolina, Collette’s life mission is to create stories, spaces and sounds that make revolution irresistible. She is a proud graduate of Howard University with a B.A. in radio/TV/film production.

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Brandi Collins-Dexter

Brandi Collins-Dexter

Brandi Collins-Dexter is the Senior Campaign Director at Color Of Change and oversees the media, democracy and economic justice departments. She has led a number of successful campaigns for accountability including getting Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor taken off the air; getting R. Kelly dropped from RCA for his repeatedly abusing girls; winning Net neutrality protections; pressuring financial companies to pull funding from hate groups; and persuading Disney not to whitewash the features of their character Princess Tiana.

Brandi is a regular commentator in the media on racial justice. The Hill named her a 2017 “person to watch.” She has written for The Root, The Hill and ESPN’s The Undefeated, and has been featured on the BBC, and in the Guardian, Gizmodo and Pitchfork.

Other sessions: Fighting ALEC's Control of Lawmaking is a Fight Against Racism

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Cayden Mak


Cayden Mak is Executive Director at 18MillionRising.org, a digital civic engagement hub for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). As part of 18MR.org’s founding staff, they were an integral part of developing the organization’s vision, voice, analysis, and playbook. In their previous role as Chief Technology Officer, they were the driving force and product manager behind community-centered design for civic tech project VoterVOX, a community-designed matching tool to help find personalized volunteer translation assistance for limited English proficient voters.

Their organizing history also includes cofounding grassroots media startups (youngist.org), cofounding a statewide student organizing network (New York Students Rising), serving as a union officer and staff organizer (CWA 1104, Education Division), and contributing to organizing the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, MI.

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Erin Shields

Erin is the National Field Organizer for Internet Rights at CMJ. Erin joins CMJ with more than 5 years of grassroots organizing and advocacy experience in the areas of technology, affordable housing, and criminal justice. Prior to working with CMJ, she was a community organizer with Bread for the City, fighting alongside DC residents living on low incomes for equitable redevelopment without displacement. She also previously worked as a government affairs coordinator at the Internet Association on issues of net neutrality, privacy, and Internet governance. Erin recently served as the 2016-2017 co-chair of Black Youth Project 100’s DC Chapter and has committed herself to the work of liberating all Black people. She earned her BA in political science from Howard University and currently lives in Baltimore, MD.

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