• AI, Aint I A Woman?

    By - Joy Buolamwini


    My heart smiles as I bask in their legacies
    Knowing their lives have altered many destinies
    In her eyes, I see my mother's poise
    In her face, I glimpse my auntie's grace
    In this case of deja vu
    A 19th century question comes into view
    In a time, when Sojourner truth asked
    "Ain't I a woman?"

    Today, we pose this question to new powers
    Making bets on artificial intelligence, hope towers
    The Amazonians peek through
    Windows blocking Deep Blues
    As Faces increment scars
    Old burns, new urns
    Collecting data chronicling our past
    Often forgetting to deal with
    Gender race and class, again I ask
    "Ain't I a Woman?"

    Face by face the answers seem uncertain
    Young and old, proud icons are dismissed
    Can machines ever see my queens as I view them?
    Can machines ever see our grandmothers as we knew them?

    Ida B. Wells, data science pioneer
    Hanging facts, stacking stats on the lynching of humanity
    Teaching truths hidden in data
    Each entry and omission, a person worthy of respect

    Shirley Chisholm, unbought and unbossed
    The first black congresswoman
    But not the first to be misunderstood by machines
    Well-versed in data drive mistakes

    Michelle Obama, unabashed and unafraid
    To wear her crown of history
    Yet her crown seems a mystery
    To systems unsure of her hair
    A wig, a bouffant, a toupee?
    Maybe not
    Are there no words for our braids and our locks?

    Does sunny skin and relaxed hair
    Make Oprah the first lady?
    Even for her face well-known
    Some algorithms fault her
    Echoing sentiments that strong women are men

    We laugh celebrating the successes
    Of our sisters with Serena smiles
    No label is worthy of our beauty.