Research & Data Activism
We are data activists.
We are storytellers.
In our world today, big data threatens to run our lives, perpetuating inequality, oppression, and continued colonization without allowing for control or oversight by the people who the data represent. Those who control data, have power. Data activism is traditionally defined as changing the social and technological practices around big data and the forms of resistance to the control and gatekeeping of Big Data access and use. A group called Data For Black Lives calls for the abolition of Big Data, stating “Big Data is part of a long and pervasive historical legacy of scientific oppression, aggressive public policy, and the most influential political and economic institution that has and continues to shape this country’s economy: chattel slavery.” As a BIPOC farming and advocacy organization, we viscerally experience the legacy and looming reality of big data, data capitalism, and colonial data practices, and envision a different reality.
At FrontLine Farming, data activism is paired with community-based research where we are both the researcher and the subjects, the analysts and the analyzed. Our data and research are used to design advocacy efforts in which BIPOC leaders, womxn leaders, LGBTQ2 leaders, immigrants, and other marginalized groups are centered and involved at all stages of the data life cycle. In this way, we examine and redefine data collection and creation - understanding that many of our communities are scientists who gather data through experiences and stories. Moreover, our ancestors were scientists and researchers yet were dismissed, discredited, and erased by colonial ideologies. We revere and respect their data and knowledge, and seek to elevate it.
Metrics and quantitative data are precious in advocacy efforts, but rarely create a comprehensive picture. We create powerful tools and narratives that are useful to our communities at the ground level by approaching data holistically, balancing qualitative and qualitative: story and number. We have embarked on a journey to ensure that data that supposedly represents us are accurate. That we can have sovereignty over our own data. That data is created and used for liberation and that gaps in data are responsibly addressed. We are data activists. We are data storytellers.