Girls Who Code CEO on George Floyd trial impact on Black girls

This final week, a jury discovered the previous Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd responsible on all counts. Like many Individuals, my feelings have run the gamut, from elation that some measure of justice was served to intense grief on the irreversible loss suffered by Floyd’s household.

Over two weeks in the past, I assumed the function of CEO of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit working to shut the gender hole in tech. In doing so, I’ve joined the rarefied ranks of Black feminine executives. That the responsible verdict within the Floyd case coincides with this milestone in my very own profession as a Black lady feels particularly poignant.

It additionally crystallizes the duty forward in a manner that little else may. A part of our work at Girls Who Code is difficult in style depictions that inform younger girls, particularly these of coloration, that to be a pc scientist you must be a nerdy man in a hoodie—depictions which have chipped away at their sense of what’s attainable, in order that there are proportionately fewer women coding now than there have been 40 years in the past.


If there’s one factor I do know, it’s that pictures matter, particularly for younger minds.

So once I heard the decision final week, I couldn’t assist fascinated about Darnella Frazier, the then-17-year-old who captured Floyd’s closing moments on video, and her cousin Judeah Reynolds, who was simply 9 years outdated on the time.

I pictured them standing on the sidewalk: Frazier in blue sweatpants and flip flops, Reynolds in leggings and a brilliant inexperienced shirt with the phrase Love emblazoned on it. And my ideas turned to how they’d be impacted by the violence they witnessed. Studies present that kids and adolescents uncovered to violence endure quite a lot of bodily and psychological well being issues, together with worry, melancholy, and nightmares. Frazier testified that she is “haunted” by what she noticed.

We are going to by no means be capable of erase the picture of a dying man from her thoughts, however we should normalize the pictures that give her motive to consider change is feasible.

At Girls Who Code, we domesticate pictures of girls in tech that confound standard narratives. Final 12 months, we have been featured in a Tremendous Bowl advert to problem outdated notions of what an astronaut seems like. We teamed up with American Woman to create a gamer doll, and with Penguin Random Home to create a collection of books about girls in tech. And it’s working—we’re on monitor to realize gender parity in entry-level tech jobs by 2030.

However what has turn into painfully clear to me is that we additionally should counter the every day onslaught of violent imagery that tells our youngsters of coloration (who make up greater than half of our Girls Who Code neighborhood) that the world sees them as disposable.

Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has said, “Tales can break the dignity of a folks” however they’ll additionally “restore that damaged dignity.” We have now seen this remaking within the wake of the deadly taking pictures of 16-year outdated Ma’Khia Bryant by a Columbus, Ohio, police officer. Tik Tok movies of {the teenager} doing her hair have gone viral, an try to interchange dehumanizing physique cam video with pictures of Bryant in all her joyful teenage glory.


We should inform a special story to our Black and Brown kids than the one this interminable ticker tape of violence and despair has constructed for them. A part of my aid at this week’s verdict is that in a small however vital manner, the choice achieves this.

Younger folks across the nation watched as a decide learn the choice, rendered unanimously by 12 jurors, saying that Floyd’s life mattered. They watched as 1000’s of individuals of all colours and creeds poured into the streets, a collective expression of aid and pleasure within the face of what stays an unspeakable tragedy.

Additionally they noticed in Floyd’s household the quiet grace and steely resilience of Black America.

Whereas there may be a lot work to be performed and no single verdict may ever be sufficient for actual change, I select to see hope in these pictures. I would like my son and daughter, the 1000’s of girls in our Girls Who Code neighborhood, and each baby of coloration within the nation to see them and know that change is feasible. I take inspiration from them and all the opposite younger folks demanding a special story—together with little Judeah Reynolds.

Just a few days after watching Floyd take his final breath, Reynolds attended a protest together with her mom. She had made an indication in colourful block letters. It learn: “It may be higher.”

Tarika Barrett is the CEO of Girls Who Code, a global nonprofit group working to shut the gender hole in expertise. Barrett has spent 20 years constructing academic pathways for younger folks at organizations like iMentor, the New York Metropolis Division of Training, and New York College’s Middle for Analysis on Educating and Studying. A graduate of Brooklyn School, Barrett has a grasp’s diploma in deaf training from Columbia Lecturers School and a PhD in instructing and studying from NYU. She serves on the board of McGraw Hill and is a recipient of the Dorothy Peak Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from the NYU Steinhardt College of Tradition, Training, and Human Growth.