Revolution is not a one time event."
Announcing the 2020 Bold Prize Honorees:
Timnit Gebru, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks
These three Black women in technology are trailblazers behind transformative efforts to build the world we deserve and a future that is safer for all. They led policy and research advances in the field of artificial intelligence to center the humanity of all people, and initiatives to address racism, community safety and pay equity at major technology companies. So many positive and tangible advancements in humane technology can be attributed to the labor and leadership of Timnit, Ifeoma and Aerica.
But what is the cost of trailblazing to the trailblazers?
For these efforts, these women were continuously maligned within their respective companies (Google & Pinterest), experienced tremendous racist, sexist discrimination for doing their jobs, endured continuous gaslighting from management, economic violence, and were subject to terrifying retaliation for sharing legitimate criticism and pursuing accountability. Entrenched mediocrity is entrenched for a reason and each one of these enormously talented women were painfully forced out of their positions.
Speaking out comes with a risk and cost. Timnit, Ifeoma and Aerica’s bravery follow the arc of many Black women who lead out front and endure exhausting, painful pushback. The retaliation these women experienced underscores the risk Black women in technology endure every day for practicing ethical leadership and speaking out against racism and discrimination.
Yet none of these women stayed silent.
They continue to lead with moral clarity.
They continue to bring the dirt up to the light.
The technology industry and the world are better for their leadership.
The fact that these harms are unfolding at companies like Google and Pinterest is incredibly insidious. Increasingly, technology is used to navigate, facilitate and validate our existence as women and people of color in democratic society and public life. But if technology leaders are ill-equipped to reckon with baseline morals and ethics, these structures and systems will continually fail to reckon with the world as it presently exists.
I am uncomfortable observing these abuse and response cycles where harm to Black women is enabled and Black women’s leadership inside institutions are summarily ignored, maligned, and denigrated as a normal course of business. Our humanity is not collateral damage.
It should not have to be this hard.
We deserve better and every modicum of positive progress the technology industry experiences is in large part due to the labor of bold leaders like Timnit, Ifeoma and Aerica and the countless trailblazers before them whose names we will never know.
No one ever asks what is the cost of trailblazing for the trailblazer?
It is so high.
Perhaps it is time we, together, return the grace...
Announcing the 2020 Bold Prize...
There is a cost to speaking out and for perhaps the first time, many of us are awakening to the reality that to create the type of world we deserve, we must call upon bravery again and again and again. As Audre Lorde said, “Revolution is not a one time event.”
Revolutions are not at odds with peace. Revolutions represent a shift, a recognition that there is a gap between the world we have and the world we deserve. I am proud to work with, support and stand with Black women in tech who use their power to bridge revolutionary gaps and advance justice for our communities. Their leadership is the type that should be elevated and championed, and I am proud to create a space to honor those who are brave enough to use their voice to keep our communities safe and build the type of world we deserve.
I am crowdfunding the Bold Prize to thank Timnit Gebru, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks for their leadership, and I am inviting you to join me.
My name is Sabrina Hersi Issa. I am a human rights technologist, an investor and a Black woman executive in technology. In 2019 I created the Bold Prize, a crowdfunded leadership award. The inaugural award celebrated the courageous leadership of Arwa Michelle Mboya, an MIT graduate student who endured backlash for her brave call for the immediate resignation now-former MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito. As I wrote in the 2019 Bold Prize announcement, I did not personally know Arwa then but I have come to know her since; she is a phenomenal leader who continues to lead groundbreaking industry-shifting work. Her future is so bright. I remain inspired by the courage and leadership Arwa continues to model in the world and I am proud to share that she joined the jury for this year’s Bold Prize.
The Bold Prize is intended to lift up and honor courageous Black women leaders. Often Black women navigating painful environments like these feel invisible and isolated. This award is a small gesture to say: We see you. We got us.
Together we are proud to invite you to donate to 2020’s Bold Prize and celebrate the leadership, integrity and courage of Timnit Gebru, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks.
From their example, I know it is possible to reimagine what leadership and power looks like in this country.
None of this will be easy; there is only hard work ahead. Our futures, in business and in the world, are in continuous flux, but opportunities to build a better world still exists.
To meet this promise, we must work together to raise up a new constellation of leadership who embrace complexity and do not evade the hard work necessary to build a future that is great for all people. Timnit, Ifeoma and Aerica each approach their work and leadership in this manner: they are intentional, collaborative, and committed to co-creating solutions in community and with community. This is leadership that is vital in the technology sector to create inclusive futures and achieve radical possibilities.
Join me in thanking Timnit, Ifeoma and Aerica for using their voice and their power to be possibility models for a better, brighter, bolder world.
I know money will not erase the void of ethical leadership at companies like Google or Pinterest, but I hope this gesture will help inspire more people to lead with courage and integrity. The Bold Prize is a collective, crowdfunded effort because it will take all of us to build a better world.
Everyone has power.
How we choose to use our power says a lot about who we are.
Timnit, Ifeoma and Aerica use their collective power to bridge revolutionary gaps.
What story does your power tell about you?
Information & Logistics
- You may donate via this GoFundMe: Charity, ActBlue or Venmo (@beingbrina)
- All money raised goes to Bold Prize honorees.
- If you would like to donate directly or sponsor the Bold Prize, please get in touch here!
- If you are a Googler and would like to put that 3x match for philanthropic donations to good use, I am very cool with that!
- Bold Prize donations are tax deductible.