These Developers Are Building The Future of Social Justice
Photo Credit: Closeup shot of an unrecognizable woman using a laptop while working from home
Over the past few years, social justice movements have continued to pop up across the country. Activism is often thought of as something that takes place through protests or other forms of direct action. However, developers are also using tech as a way to combat social injustices.
Tech is a powerful tool that can be used to tackle a large number of issues throughout communities. From crowdsourcing bail funds to helping people gain access to water again, many developers are bringing technology into the social justice sphere.
Here is a list of five apps that you should know:
There is a growing movement to end cash bail within the United States. Every single day, hundreds of thousands of people remain in jail without a conviction because they cannot afford to put up bail money.
Bail is yet another way in which the criminal justice system further penalizes poverty. After all, poor people are more likely to be criminalized and in a country with an ever-growing racial wealth gap, Black and brown people are more likely to be impacted.
Founded in 2017 by Tiffany Mikell and Dr. Kortney Ziegler, Appolition is a bail crowdsourcing app that helps pay bail for people who cannot afford it. The app works by collecting spare change. Essentially, you connect it to your bank account, and each purchase is rounded up to the nearest dollar. Once you reach at least 50 cents in spare change, it’s automatically donated.
Police violence is an unfortunate part of every day life. According to Mapping Police Violence, police killed 1,147 people in 2017 with Black people making up 25 percent of the victims. The following year, there were only 23 days where someone wasn’t killed by the police.
Keeping track of all that information is important, but nearly impossible for a single person to do. That’s why founders Rachel Green and Mark Nyon developed End Bias (EB) Wiki. The platform relies on community contributions to gather information about people of color that die as a result of police action.
“Our goal is to provide a space where users can learn more not just about the initial incident that led to the victim’s death, but also any later activity such as legal action or a department policy change,” the founders told AfroTech. “Our hope is that by shining a light on these cases we can spark conversations about public safety, criminal justice, and institutional racism.”
3. Human Utility
You need water to live, but communities of color are often denied access to it. In cities like Detroit, activists have called out the city’s policy of shutting off water in people’s homes.
Developer Tiffani Ashley Bell founded the Human Utility after hearing about the water crisis. The website helps connect people with overdue water bills to donors to clear their accounts. Bell didn’t intend for her efforts to turn into an entire organization. She started out helping Detroit families and has since expanded to Baltimore and other areas.
In an interview with AfroTech, Bell had a message for other Black people:
“Don’t shy away from doing this kind of work. There’s a lot of noble and empowering work that can be done on the social side with tech.”
4. Clear My Record
When you have a criminal record, it can impact every area of your life — from your ability to find a job or even housing. Most states have clearance laws that allow you to get things off your record, but it’s not easy. Founder Jazmyn Latimer developed Clear My Record to help people in California navigate that process.
“Over the past four years I’ve talked to hundreds of people who can’t move on because of their criminal records and all their stories have a similar thread,” Latimer said. “They feel left out, they feel discouraged, they feel overwhelmed. I do this work to show people who have a record that they matter.
Since April 2016, Clear My Record has connected over 11,000 people with attorneys. In addition, people are now hearing back from attorneys in a matter of days instead of having to wait months.
For Black patients, connecting with Black doctors is one way many people can feel comfortable and heard within the medical industry. Although finding Black doctors can be a bit of a challenge, Kimberly Wilson founded HUED to make the process easier, which she was inspired to launch due to her own experiences with fibroids.
By using HUED’s website or mobile app, patients are able to find and book appointments with Black or Latinx healthcare providers.
“Nobody is going to take care of us, but us,” Wilson told AfroTech. “Research shows that people of color are not getting the health and medical care they need because of fear, access to quality healthcare and distrust of doctors. But more importantly, our pain and traumas are being dismissed.”
HUED has started small with matching platforms in New York City and Washington, D.C., with plans to expand nationally.