Clarence Okoh

  • Hosted by NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Sponsored by Equal Justice Works Text-to-Give
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Racial Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Clarence challenges the discriminatory use and impact of artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies on communities of color and low-income communities within the criminal justice and economic justice context through litigation, community education, and policy advocacy. 

Public and private actors are increasingly relying on new technologies that undermine the civil rights and economic security of low-income communities of color. Artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as risk assessment models, predictive analytics, and automated public benefits systems are routinely used in ways that expand mass surveillance, lock-in patterns of residential segregation, systematically deny access to public benefits, facilitate racial discrimination and deepen the over-criminalization of poor people of color.  

Clarence’s commitment to racial and economic justice is a direct consequence of his family’s history in the Deep South. Clarence is five generations removed from slavery, three generations removed from sharecropping, and two generations from state-sanctioned segregation. Clarence’s aspiration is to bring us closer to the day when no subsequent generation of Black people suffers the dual indignities of racial injustice and poverty in America.  

This project enables Clarence to defend the rights of his community in the place he calls home. 

Fellowship Plans

During his fellowship, Clarence will launch an extensive investigation of algorithmic discrimination, with a focus on low-income Black communities in the Deep South. He will build the capacity of legal service providers, policymakers and tech activists to challenge the discriminatory use of these tools. He will also work to bring broader public awareness to the systemic, racialized harms of algorithmic technologies.

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