Racism against Black people has a profound impact on daily life in the U.S. Although law can serve as an instrument of justice, historically it has often been used in the U.S. to maintain racial oppression, providing the basis for plantation slavery, black codes, Jim Crow laws, mass incarceration, and other forms of systemic discrimination. While popular accounts present the history of race in the U.S. as a progression toward greater emancipation, with the civil rights era marking a fundamental break from the past, racism has successfully adapted and persisted despite resistance movements and consequent reforms. The resilience of racism in the U.S. can be explained by its ability to manifest itself across a continuum of laws, legal precedents, and cultural narratives employed over time to dehumanize, exploit, and brutalize Black people.
Dominant approaches to racial justice tend to focus on specific incidents of intentional discrimination by individual perpetrators. This approach leaves many other contributory elements outside the frame. Change cannot happen without a fundamental paradigm shift – not only in the way the law is mobilized, but also in how we envision justice. A key strategy for accomplishing this shift is to look beyond individual culpability and intentionality as central organizing principles for racial justice. This project explores racial injustice not only in relation to specific incidents of harm, but also by examining the longue durée of structural injustice that makes these incidents possible. Using data visualization, Visualizing Justice seeks to render visible the legal, political, and cultural policies and practices that connect the various aspects of systemic racism in violence, incarceration, housing, education, and health services. The goal is to usher in new possibilities for visualizing justice.
Beginning from the observation that approaches to understanding racial injustice often focus on specific incidents of intentional racism by individual perpetrators, leaving many other contributory elements outside the frame
Visualizing Justice sets-out to make visible and accessible structural injustice – or, in other words, the historical contexts of law, legal precedents, cultural narratives, and politics which enable contemporary cases of racial injustice.
The series represents a sequence of data visualizations that reveal the social, political, and historical contexts in which racial injustice occurs in the United States
Each film combines media artifacts and original data visualizations to depict deeply-rooted injustices that are often invisible to contemporary legal processes