Databite SeriesMay 25 2022

Race, Surveillance, Resistance

Tamara K. Nopper,

Alyx Goodwin, Raúl Carrillo, and Chaz Arnett

Databite No. 149

“We need to push through the noise to be able to effectively tackle these systems.” —Chaz Arnett

Race, Surveillance, Resistance
Datafication is closely related to social control and surveillance. We see this clearly in policing and criminalization, and credit scoring and monitoring systems, among other areas. The widening net of surveillance, and the increasing use of automated detection and enforcement tools, maintains racial and class hierarchies and expands state power — with disproportionate impact on Black communities and people of color. Yet there is also resistance: Communities and organizations are pushing back against the Datafied State, including through efforts to regulate data collection, organize against harmful data initiatives, and advance policies for more ethical data processes.

About the Speakers

Tamara K. Nopper | @tamaranopper

Tamara K. Nopper is a sociologist, writer, and editor. She is the editor of We Do This ‘Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice, a book of Mariame Kaba’s writings and interviews (Haymarket Books), as well as a researcher and writer of several data stories for Colin Kaepernick’s Abolition for the People online series and book. Nopper was guest editor of the recently published special issue of Critical Sociology, “Race and Money.”  Her current scholarship examines the credit scoring industry and the push for alternative data among elected officials, policy makers, and community advocates. A 2021-22 faculty fellow at Data & Society as part of a cohort focused on race and technology, Nopper is an affiliate of The Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies, a member of the inaugural cohort of the NYU Institute for Public Interest Technology, and a former fellow at Data for Progress.


Chaz Arnett | @chazparnett

Chaz Arnett is a legal scholar and advocate whose research explores the interplay between race, digital technologies, and criminal legal processes. His scholarship offers critical legal frameworks in challenging purportedly race-neutral laws and technologies. Arnett’s most recent work focuses on examining the role that surveillance technologies play in perpetuating racial inequities through policing and corrections. As a 2021-22 D&S faculty fellow, his project draws upon this expertise as he conducts research on the impact of criminal law and policy on the relationship between racial and surveillance capitalism.


Alyx Goodwin | @FREEwrites_

Alyx Goodwin is a deputy campaign director at Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE), organizing with BYP100 Chicago, and a co-founder and writer with LEFT OUT Magazine. Her writing and activism center on the momentum and challenges of building Black power and self-determination. Her work at ACRE currently focuses on the relationship between the finance industry, policing, and tech.


Raúl Carrillo | @RaulACarrillo 

Raúl Carrillo is the deputy director of the LPE Project and an associate research scholar at Yale Law School. His research critically analyzes the laws of money, banking, and finance by approaching money as a technology of governance. Current sites of research include digital currency, credit scoring, and illicit flows. Carrillo is also a resident fellow of the Yale Information Society Project and an affiliate of the Center for Critical Race + Digital Studies.




  • Arnett, Chaz, Race, Surveillance, Resistance (2020). 81 Ohio State Law Journal 1103 (2020), U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2021-02, Available at SSRN:
  • Arnett, Chaz. “Data: The New Cotton” Just Tech. Social Science Research Council. May 25, 2022. DOI:

Calls 2 Action

Credits and Acknowledgments

Producer: Rigoberto Lara Guzmán

Editorial: Eryn Loeb

Social Media: Alessandra Erawan

Web: Chris Redwood

Post-Production: Kara Constantine   

Additional support provided by D&S’s Network Engagement, Accounting, and Strategy teams.