April 29, 2020
Social justice advocate Tawana Petty writes, “We fear the unknown and what we don’t understand and sometimes that fear turns us into people we might not otherwise be.”
Tawana Petty is a Non-Resident Fellow at Stanford’s Digital Civil Society Lab. Tawana is a mother, social justice organizer, youth advocate, poet and author. She is intricately involved in water rights advocacy, data and digital privacy education, and racial justice and equity work. She is Director of the Data Justice Program for the Detroit Community Technology Project (DCTP) and co-leads Our Data Bodies (ODB), a five-person team concerned about the ways our communities’ digital information is collected, stored, and shared by government and corporations. Tawana is a convening member of the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition (DDJC) on behalf of DCTP, which organizes Data DiscoTechs (discovering technology) fairs and other initiatives to foster media and digital literacy. She recently co-produced with ODB, the Digital Defense Playbook, a workbook of popular education activities and tools for data justice and data access for equity, as well as the report, A Critical Summary of Detroit’s Project Green Light and Its Greater Context, on Detroit’s Project Green Light surveillance program. Tawana is a co-founder of Riverwise Magazine, a quarterly magazine which lifts up community stories by Detroit residents, which might otherwise be misrepresented or underrepresented in local and national media. Riverwise Magazine recently produced a special surveillance issue, Detroiters Want to Be Seen, Not Watched.
She is a board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership (Boggs Center), a Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL) Fellow, and the organizer of an annual art festival and artist retreat in historic Idlewild, Michigan, which convenes over 30 artists, organizers, herbalists and innovators each year to create art, share healing practices and respirit each other and the communities they serve.
Tawana is the recipient of several awards, including the Spirit of Detroit Award, the Woman of Substance Award, Women Creating Caring Communities Award, Detroit Awesome Award, University of Michigan Black Law Student Association’s Justice Honoree Award, was recognized as one of Who’s Who in Black Detroit in 2013 and 2015, the Wayne State Center for Peace and Conflict Studies’ Peacemaker Award, and a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition in 2018.
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