How Google has been racist for a while now

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In the Black History Month 2019, Google designed its daily-changing homepage logo to include an image of African-American activist Sojourner Truth, the great 19th-century abolitionist and women’s rights activist.

But what would Truth say about Google’s continual lack of care and respect toward people of color?

People of color are not completely absent, but they are underrepresented on Google’s image search. For example of the first 50 images when searching for “girl,” 46 displayed white girls, three were of Asian girls and only one included a Black girl.

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These well-documented disparities in search-engine results are in part due to the dismally low number of Black women working at Google — only 1.2 percent of their workforce.

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To make matters worse, Google suggests that I narrow down my search results with adjectives ranging from “attractive” to “skinny” to “pregnant.” In contrast, when searching for “men” (a category that also overrepresents whiteness), the first three adjectives are “cartoon,” “hairstyle” and “old.”

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These adjectives may be descriptive, but they also replicate the stereotype that women are primarily valued for their beauty and reproductive organs and men are important for their personality and wisdom.

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Stereotyping is endemic to most any digital technology like Google that aims to replicate how humans already sort information.

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