Google pumps $2.35 million into racial justice projects, including #BlackLivesMatter video app

One of the founders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and three racial and social justice initiatives in Oakland and San Jose are sharing $2.35 million in grants from Google’s philanthropic arm.

Of the four grants, Google.org is awarding two of them — worth $500,000 each — to Oakland’s Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.

As my colleague Tammerlin Drummond wrote last month, one of those will go to a new community center, Restore Oakland, that will open in East Oakland next year and aims to help formerly incarcerated and low-income workers find high-paying careers in Oakland’s burgeoning “foodie” economy.

The other Ella Baker grant will help Los Angeles activist Patrice Cullors, one of the creators of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag on Twitter that propelled a national movement against police brutality, continue to develop and promote the Mobile Justice California smartphone app that lets the public record interactions with police and send to lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The levels of police violence, the levels of disparate treatment within the criminal justice system, is something that is becoming increasingly hard for folks to ignore,” said Zachary Norris, director of The Ella Baker Center, in an interview Tuesday. “We’re excited that Google is investing in the Ella Baker Center as we take on one of the more intractable issues as it relates to racial equity.”

Zachary Norris, the new executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, is photographed in his office in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. Raised in Oakland and educated at Harvard and New York Universities, Norris brings to his new role a long history in East Bay activism. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

Zachary Norris, the new executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, is photographed in his office in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. Raised in Oakland and educated at Harvard and New York Universities, Norris brings to his new role a long history in East Bay activism. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

The tech giant is also awarding $650,000 to Silicon Valley De-Bug for its work to help South Bay families navigate through the criminal justice system to reduce harsh prison sentences, and $750,000 for the Oakland Unified School District’s African American Male Achievement Initiative.

Google just recently awarded $5.5 million to Bay Area nonprofit organizations, and funded the Ella Baker Center several years ago, but the company describes this as its most concerted effort yet to support racial justice causes.

The donations come as Google and other Silicon Valley firms have pledged, after persistent calls to improve workplace diversity, to increase the number of black and Latino workers in engineering roles; and amid rising concerns about tech-fueled residential displacement in Oakland and other cities.

“It’s a time of intense change in the Bay Area and Oakland is being impacted heavily by that,” said Norris, who views the Restore Oakland initiative as one way of helping longtime Oaklanders stay in town and secure living wage jobs in the fast-growing restaurant industry.

“Our basic assessment is most people would respond to economic opportunity rather than turn to underground economies,” Norris said.

Google plans to announce the grants on Tuesday night at a San Francisco screening of “3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets,” a documentary about the fatal shooting of black Florida teenager Jordan Davis by a white software developer in 2012. Among the guests will be the teen’s parents and family members of Oscar Grant, the unarmed black man fatally shot in Oakland by a BART police officer in 2009.

Above: The Mobile Justice California app, which lets the public record interactions with police officers and sends the videos to the ACLU. (Photo by Brooke Anderson)

 

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  • alrui

    Just another great reason to avoid Oogle, clueless wonks!

 
 
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