Field notes: Decolonizing the Internet 2018 and Wikimania 2018

Earlier this month, members of Equality Labs headed to Cape Town to attended the Decolonizing the Internet 2018 and Wikimania 2018. Organized by our allies and friends at Whose Knowledge?, Decolonize the Internet is “the first ever conference about centering marginalized knowledge online!” and is geared towards making the internet more inclusive and diverse by affecting change in internet governance, design and content.

We sat down with  activists and researchers from around the world to discuss what it means  to represent our communities online. We shared our own experiences as Dalit Wikipedia editors and discussed strategies for building and learning together in the coming months.  

Critically, our explorations revealed to us the limitations of representing broader truths on oppressor founded platforms and we think it’s time to really think about what places created and represented by marginalized people could look like and how it could change the way the Internet itself could look and function. 

Following this, we headed to Wikimania 2018 where Equality Labs’  Executive Director, Thenmozhi Soundararajan was on a panel titled, “Centering Voices from the Margins”.

Wikimania panel capetown.jpg

The panel also featured Stan Rodriguez, Kumeyaay linguist and musician, Persephone Lewis of the Yomba band of the Shoshone tribe, Professor of Practice and Tribal Liaison at University of San Diego, Kelly Foster, a founding member of AfroCROWD UK and Dumisani Ndubane, South African engineer and Xitsonga Wikipedian. The panel was moderated by Siko Bourtese of Whose Knowledge?.

All the panelists  spoke passionately about the struggles of their peoples to be respectfully and rightfully represented on Wikimedia platforms. This was one of the first times that Dalit Wikimedians were present in these spaces and a crucial observation included that delegations from South Asia were otherwise almost exclusively Oppressor-caste led and populated. For us, as a Dalit delegation, this was also indicative of the fact that for some groups of marginalized peoples are not only battling white supremacy, but also internal hegemonies like Caste which has historically obstructed our knowledge creation. Because of this,  its crucial to move beyond just abstract, often superficial ideas of "diversity" and really delve into what decolonizations mean in the context of equal access to online and offline spaces .

 


There’s some good news and some great news!

New Media Ventures just announced the recipients of this year’s round of funding

The good news is that Equality Labs is part of the amazing cohort of progressive startups in New Media Ventures’ biggest investment round yet. The great news is that we’ll be using the funds to strengthen the movement!

We’re incredibly grateful to New Media Ventures for investing in our mission to empower vulnerable communities that are organizing against Caste apartheid, racism and Islamophobia.

Since 2010, New Media Ventures has invested over $50 million and supported over 60 companies and organizations that are working to build movements, increase civic engagement and create new narratives. These organizations include Daily Kos, ActBlue Civics, vote.org, Swing Left, Pantsuit Nation and Hustle, all of which have gone on to become significant players in the progressive movement today.  

Over the last two years, Equality Labs has been building digital self-defense practices with organizers, activists, journalists, and researchers from minority groups across the country. We have also continued learning about the specific risk profiles digital security needs of these communities within the movement. The New Media Ventures investment will be used by Equality Labs to design and develop a product based on these findings and the specific use cases that we’ve encountered in our work. We’re excited to kick-start this new project and begin building! Stay tuned for updates. 


#NoBanNoWall: Equality Labs Stands by Our Muslim Brothers and Sisters

 Image Credit: Design Action

Image Credit: Design Action

 

Today, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s third “Muslim ban” that restricts travel, blocks immigrants and temporary visitors from seven countries—Syria, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Venezuela, North Korea and Somalia. Five of these are Muslim majority countries. 

Equality Labs condemns this decision, especially as one that robs our Muslim brothers and sisters and their families of the right to be safe but also as one that will go down in history as an act of infamy and white supremacy. 

“From Chinese Exclusion Act which first attempted to register immigrants in 1882 to the Korematsu decision in 1944 that targeted Japanese Americans, our communities have survived previous attacks on our civil liberties and today is no different. We will fight not only till the Muslim ban is overturned but till all our families are reunited,”  said Equality Labs Executive Director, Thenmozhi Soundararajan.

In Justice Sotomayor’s dissent she warns that ignoring the racist and islamophobic roots of this ban "erodes the foundational principles of religious tolerance that the court elsewhere has so emphatically protected...It tells members of minority religions in our country that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.”

Equality Labs stands together with our Muslim friends. We are one community and we will not stand for this violence. We stand with families torn apart by borders and white supremacist policy. We stand with individuals who are braving increased hate crimes in their places of worship and with Muslim students battling Islamophobia on college campuses as a result of this administration’s anti-Muslim rhetoric. 

We also stand proudly with our Muslim and South Asian collaborators and allies including Justice for Muslims Collective, CAIR, Asian Americans For Advancing Justice and SAALT, as well as smaller, local organizations whose communities are directly and immediately affected by the ban.

Lastly, we stand with our South Asian Muslim brothers and sisters who are feeling the trauma of Islamophobia not just here, but also back in their home countries( in mixed religious societies like India) and are bearing the weight of American Islamophobia's impacts on their families in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. 

We ask every progressive South Asian American to stand with and carry the water of all of our brothers and sisters who are targeted by this administration Whether it is in the streets, in places of worship, schools, airports, or in all of our local communities. we believe now and forever, No Ban, No Wall, Sanctuary for all. 


Get involved!

Find a local community event that you can turn up to: #StandWithMuslims: Find an event near you has a list of events in more than 20 American cities.

Hear from the community and join the discussion at Community Forum: Muslim Ban, Oakland.

Support our allies at End Family Detention: Women Take Action, Washington D.C.

Learn more about Islam and the effects of Islamophobia with resources from Justice for Muslims Collective

If you are organizing in your local communities and would like to be listed here, please email us at hello@equalitylabs.org.