Critical Race Theory for HCI

Ogbonnaya-Ogburu, Ihudiya; Smith, Angela; To, Alexandra; Toyama, Kentaro
Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

The human-computer interaction community has made some efforts toward racial diversity, but the outcomes remain meager. We introduce critical race theory and adapt it for HCI to lay a theoretical basis for race-conscious efforts, both in research and within our community. Building on the theory's original tenets, we argue that racism is pervasive in everyday socio-technical systems; that the HCI community is prone to "interest convergence", where concessions to inclusion require benefits to those in power; and that the neoliberal underpinnings of the technology industry itself propagate racism. Critical race theory uses storytelling as a means to upend deep-seated assumptions, and we relate several personal stories to highlight ongoing problems of race in HCI. The implications: all HCI research must be attuned to issues of race; participation of underrepresented minorities must be sought in all of our activities; and as a community, we cannot become comfortable while racial disparities exist.