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

This project challenges the racialized consequences of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning on Black and brown communities in the South and other impacted jurisdictions.

Public and private actors are increasingly deploying new technologies that expand social inequality and racial subordination. Artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as facial recognition, drone surveillance systems, and fintech lending platforms are routinely used in ways that reinforce racial disparities and deepen structural disadvantages for communities of color and other marginalized groups. This project deploys strategic litigation and policy advocacy to expand the capacity of community-led efforts to resist algorithmic injustice.

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 aspires 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 Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Clarence has:

  • Investigated a school-based predictive policing system in Pasco County, Florida, and supported a local coalition to end the sharing of confidential student records with law enforcement.
  • Enforced a monitored agreement that assessed the fair lending outcomes of a fintech company by relying on artificial intelligence and alternative data to facilitate access to credit programs.
  • Launched an investigation of the proliferation of police surveillance technologies in a major city in the South through open records requests and other activities.
  • Helped develop congressional testimony and agency comment letters on issues including facial recognition and AI bias.

Next Steps

In the next year, Clarence plans to:

  • Continue to develop litigation challenging algorithmic injustice.
  • Continue investigations into jurisdictions embracing new police surveillance technologies.
  • Support policy advocacy at the federal state, and local levels to combat algorithmic injustice.
  • Develop and distribute self-advocacy resources and public education materials to communities directly harmed by algorithmic injustice to help demystify and democratize knowledge about the threats that these technologies can present to Black and brown communities.


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