September 19, 2018

NO COMPUTER. NO ASSISTANCE? IS MICHIGAN TURNING THE LIGHTS OFF ON THE POOR?

Headshot of Dr. Virginia Eubanks, author

Dr. Virginia Eubanks, author of Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor, will speak at the event.

DETROIT.   September 19,  2018–Virginia Eubanks, author of Automating Inequality:  How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor, will speak Thursday, Sept. 27 from 5-7 p.m. at Bethel Transformation Community Center in Detroit. Dr. Eubanks is part of a free panel discussion sponsored by the Knight Foundation Fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and hosted by The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW).  The event, “No Computer. No Assistance? Is Michigan Turning the Lights Off on the Poor?” is free and open to the public.

“Thousands of low-income families seek assistance from The Heat and Warmth Fund every year. Many families include senior citizens and disabled persons who lack access to computers or the computer knowledge needed to complete an application and upload documents. Our goal is to remove barriers for families in need.  We fear automation is adding barriers for many of our families,” said Saunteel Jenkins, CEO of The Heat and Warmth Fund.

THAW has invited Dr. Eubanks to speak about the impact this change has had around the country and the possible impact on Michigan’s most vulnerable residents. It will include a panel discussion that explores the pros and cons of automating services for Michigan’s poorest and most vulnerable residents.

Virginia Eubanks is an associate professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, SUNY. She is the author of Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the PoorDigital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age; and co-editor, with Alethia Jones, of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith. Her writing about technology and social justice has appeared in The American ProspectThe NationHarper’s and Wired. For two decades, Eubanks has worked in community technology and economic justice movements. Today, she is a founding member of the Our Data Bodies Project and a Fellow at New America. She lives in Troy, NY.

The event will be moderated by Detroit Public TV host Christy McDonald.  Local experts will offer commentary as part of the on-stage presentation.

The event is free, and refreshments will be provided, but guests must register to attend at thawfund.org.  A donor reception with Dr. Eubanks will immediately follow the discussion. The donor reception cost is $50, which includes wine, dessert, and a hardcover copy of Automating Inequality. All proceeds to benefit THAW.

Bethel Transformation Community Center is located at 8801 Woodward in Detroit’s New Center area.  Parking is free behind the building.

 

About THAW

The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) is stabilizing and empowering Michigan families, keeping them healthy, safe and warm.  THAW, an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, distributes utility assistance to low-income residents throughout Michigan. In the past year THAW distributed more than $14 million in utility assistance to nearly 17,000 Michigan households.  Since its inception in 1985, THAW has distributed over $200 million in assistance to more than 250,000 Michigan households.  For more, visit thawfund.org.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

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MEDIA  CONTACT:   Colleen Robar, 313-207-5960, crobar@robarpr.com

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