Meet 3 Black women pushing for inclusivity in tech

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“Creative technologist” is perhaps a role you’ve never heard of, but an example of Ashley’s work may better explain what she does: Currently, Ashley is using slime mold to raise awareness of society’s structural inequities. That’s right, slime mold. “Slime mold has the capacity to be multicellular in its structure and distributes nourishment equitably,” Ashley explains. “It’s a natural example of how mutual aid positively impacts communities.”

Through her project, called Slime Tech Lab, Ashley brings actual terrariums of slime mold to schools and organizations that typically don’t have access to science and technology resources. Using a Raspberry Pi, Ashley measures and tracks the slime mold’s movement, and the result is part art piece, part science experiment, part social metaphor. How the slime mold acts can teach us about community cooperation, Ashley explains. “I’ve found that non-Black communities I bring this to have an increase in empathy, and I think it could lead to more thoughtful conversations around topics like immigration and borders.”

A huge part of Ashley’s workshop centers the goal of offering the Black community science and tech skills coupled with creative speculations on the future through storytelling. “If you live in an environment with no visibility of the way out of an oppressive structure, you have to use your imagination,” she says. “Imagination builds resilience and paints a future you can walk toward as a Black person.”

Chanelle Hardy, head of civil and human rights at Google

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