Writers' fund black history month - twitter

In September, we put out an open call for Black writers to use data to tell a story or tell a story about data. The ODI has a history of exploring data issues through art and creative writing, and we wanted you to be a part of it.

From a shortlist, our judges – Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Rob Berkeley, Dr Mahlet (Milly) Zimeta and Sir Nigel Shadbolt – chose 3 winners to receive the £500 fund to develop their proposals and have their finished pieces published on the ODI site.

We are delighted to be able to share their work.

The dividing line: how we represent race in data – Eleanor Shearer


Eleanor Shearer is a mixed race writer and consultant with a particular interest in racial justice. She has a Master’s degree in Political Theory, where she specialised in the history of Caribbean slavery and the politics of reparations. She now works for a small consultancy that helps public sector organisations harness the power of new technologies such as AI, and in this role she has published a report on racial bias in Natural Language Processing. She also writes fiction, with her first flash fiction piece published in The Fiction Pool this October.

Eleanor's piece is an essay that explores the difficult relationship between data and race, and puts forward three important questions researchers should be asking themselves when collecting data around race.

Read her piece here: The dividing line: how we represent race in data – Eleanor Shearer

i Am A.I. and Thou – Anne L. Washington


Anne L. Washington teaches data ethics at New York University as an assistant professor of data policy. The National Science Foundation has funded her research multiple times including a prestigious 5-year NSF CAREER grant on open government data. Her current work investigated COVID19 classifications in open data.

Anne's piece is poem which invites the audience to observe the ambiguities of a simple form and reflect on how well data represents their lives. About her poem, Anne said 'This piece was given several times at open-mic events in New York City because art reaches minds sometimes faster than academic papers.'

Read her piece here: i Am A.I. and Thou – Anne L. Washington

Facing Decisions – Danni Youziel


Danni Youziel is a software developer with interests in data and security. She has spoken at Black Hat Europe about bias in biometric authentication and impact on people and their privacy. Danni has been fascinated with this area of technology ever since she saw someone pay for coffee with their face. She is passionate about diversity in tech and is a mentor as part of Coding Black Females.

Danni's piece is a short story set in a future where facial recognition is used to keep the peace within a kingdom, but data cannot predict everything...

Read her piece here: Facing Decisions – Danni Youziel