What is the role of (open and big) data in enacting, facilitating, and/or limiting racial justice within an increasingly datafied society? This talk explores the relationship between marginalized communities of color and data, foregrounding questions about power, inequality, and justice within the aspiring “smart” city of Los Angeles.

First, I will briefly touch on a study that proposes a typology of community-based engagements with data for racial justice: namely, data use, re-use, refusal, and production. Building on this work and considering the politics of data re-use and refusal to keep powerful actors accountable, I will discuss in detail a second study, which leverages an original Yelp dataset to construct and deconstruct a novel indicator of urban displacement, using coffee shops as a flashpoint for urban change.

This work theorizes and conceptualizes “urban data justice” as a community-engaged vision and praxis while also articulating and exploring a more politically engaged, grounded, and mixed-method approach to “data-driven” research and policy. In all, I ask: how do we tell stories with—and about—data? Who benefits from dominant narratives? How can we subvert unequal power relations within—and of—data?