9 Black Art + Tech Projects You Can Support Year-Round
It's time we made Black History Month a year-long affair.
Courtesy NEW INC.
In honor of Black History Month, we’ve compiled a list of Black art + tech organizations that are making strides at both the local and national levels. From archive-driven art collectives to neighborhood-specific cryptology initiatives, our roundup below features nine projects you can invest your time and support to all year round.
BUFU's Tumblr. Courtesy BUFU.
1. BUFU: By Us For Us
BUFU: By Us For Us is a decentralized and collaborative archive dedicated to Black and Asian cultural and political relationships. Founded and run by queer, femme, non-binary artists and organizers, the group works to “facilitate a global conversation on the relationship between Black and Asian diasporas, with an emphasis on building solidarity, de-centering whiteness, and resurfacing our deeply interconnected and complicated histories.” Last November, BUFU hosted a youth summit at the New Museum called "Scamming the Patriarchy." Keep up with them on their website.
Afripedia, one of NEW INC's part-time members, is a visual platform that hosts art, film, photography, fashion, design, and contemporary culture made by creative professionals of African descent from across the world. Founded by Teddy Goitom and Senay Berhe, the group's first project took form in a five-part series of documentary films from the likes of 3D animator Andrew Kaggia and music sensation Wiyaala. The films aired on Swedish television and will be available online soon. In the meantime, you can watch the trailers for their films and stay up to date with what they’re doing on Instagram.
Seher Sikandar, Do I Fit the Description? (2016). Courtesy Facebook.
3. Fit the Description
In a bid to envision "what a healthy and reimagined context for policing could look like," Fit the Description is a documentary series of seven-to-ten minute interviews between Black male officers and Black male civilians. See the resulting conversations for yourself.
"Our mission is threefold," the group explains on their website: "[We want to] shift the national narrative around police officers and civilians by creating space for empathy and vulnerability...to provide a platform for alternative stories and voices to be expressed, and to use this methodology for empathic and honest conversations which disrupt polarized viewpoints around social issues." Folks in the greater New York area can catch a screening at the Brooklyn Museum on Saturday, February 4.
Arts.black is a journal of art criticism from Black perspectives aiming to promote Black voices writing about contemporary art. Founded in the belief that art criticism should be an open, accessible dialogue, co-founders Jessica Lynne and Taylor Renee recently told The Creators Project that they “want ARTS.BLACK to be another imprint in the continuum of black textual production.” Read their latest essays here.
5. Black Girls Code
Black Girls Code wants to increase the number of women of color working in STEM—one million by 2040, to be exact. The nonprofit teaches girls ages 7 to 17 tech and computer skills needed to become leaders in the workplace and in their communities.
The nonprofit's programming includes summer camps, career panels, and presentations like “How to Build a Mobile App in a Day.” Their hackathons invite teenage girls from all experience levels to create solutions for social issues in their communities. Make a donation here, or sign up to volunteer.
Marisol Diaz, NOT OUR STATUE: Speak Out in Solidarity For the Reproductive Rights of Women of Color (2016). Courtesy the artist.
6. The Laundromat Project
Founded in 2006, the Laundromat Project supports community-based artmaking in New York City's Bedford-Stuyvesant, Harlem, and Hunts Point/Longwood neighborhoods. Their flagship program, Create Change, connects artists and communities through residencies that ask artists to create public art projects for local laundromats.
Resulting projects range from Havanna Fisher’s Harlem Motion, a series of stop animation workshops culminating in a community barbeque and talk back, to Salome Asega & Ayodamola Okunseinde’s The Iyapo Repository, a pop-up laundromat museum that exhibited artifacts created by Bed-Stuy residents in a series of public design workshops. You can donate to support their work here, or apply to volunteer.
7. The Free Black Women's Library
The Free Black Women’s Library is a mobile pop-up that serves as an installation for over 500 Black female and female-identifying authors and their texts, often in conjunction with other art and community events. When asked to describe the library for Fusion, founder Olaronke Akinmowo said she often refers to it as a “biblio-installation.” Akinmowo sets monthly themes for her pop-ups, ranging from Afrofuturism to street harassment.
Activating the community-oriented space is a major part of the library’s goal, to which she reminds Fusion: “Black folks are just gonna gather, and fearlessly be like, ‘We’re here. And we’re here to talk about the things that are relevant to us, and we’re here to come up with strategies, and we’re here to connect with each other, and we’re here to solve problems, and we’re here to honor our humanity and our creativity and our intelligence, and either get right, or get left.” You can donate books (by Black women authors) to the library here.
8. Crypto Harlem
Matthew Mitchell, a former data journalist at the New York Times and CNN developer, spends most of his time these days running the Harlem cryptoparty called Crypto Harlem, where he invites attendees to bring their computers and personal devices to learn how to use encryption and protection services like Tor and WhatsApp.
He told The Village Voice last year that the project is much like a public health initiative —"a digital security clinic in Harlem, just like the city mobile dental clinic." In a neighborhood where NYPD surveillance runs high, the cryptoparties are popular and hold local importance. You can join Mitchell via his Meetup group.
The Hidden Genius Project. Courtesy YouTube.
9. The Hidden Genius Project
Founded by five Black male entrepreneurs and technologists, The Hidden Genius Project aims to immerse male high school students of color in coding, web design, and app development programs. Based in Oakland, the project accepts participants for their fifteen-month immersion program, designed to teach teens coding, development, and other leadership and social justice-based skills. You can donate to the project, or volunteer.
Editor: Rain Embuscado