Coding and the Black Girl: Untapped Art
"Coding is today's language of creativity. All our children deserve a chance to become creators instead of consumers of computer science." ~Maria Klawe
Drawing, painting, writing, dancing, acting, singing, and baking are examples of the many arts that black girls participate in. Art is essential in the black community because it allows for healing. Expression through art enables the ability to stay in the flow and continue in a positive state of mind. Sadly, the experiences of many black girls are that of pain. Racial and gender bias makes them one of the world's most vulnerable groups. We often experience black girls redirecting negative energy through dancing, painting, and acting. However, we have very few examples of them expressing themselves through coding.
Expression through coding is an untapped art of black girls. Although coding is very systematic, it is a form of art. Sadly, a state of the art that black girls have little exposure to. Coding provides the opportunity to solve real-world challenges. What better way to solve a problem than through coding? Instinctively, black girls can develop creative ideas through intense thought processes. Consider the creativity of dance, the imagination and creativity of black girls' hair, the emotion-filled poetry, and the on-screen acting that can bring deep laughter or tears of joy. Black girls are creative!
What would happen if we moved away from the "computer science curriculum" and considered coding one of many creative arts? Would black girls become more interested? Of course, there are technical aspects in all forms of art. Yet, black girls continue to exceed expectations and become masters of their crafts. Before learning to dance, they learn coordination and rhythm. Before creating unique hairstyles, they know how to cut, curl, and braid. Before writing and speaking poetry, they develop critical thinking skills and the ability to convey information. So yes, before learning to code, there must be a learning of computer languages, logic, and the ability to pay attention to details. Yet, all these skills can be acquired with practice.
I often wonder what the world would look like if more black girls were exposed to coding. Would defining coding as art create a field that would become game changers for the black community? Coding and computing are a part of health, finance, education, and other critical areas. By not preparing black girls, we lack diversity. As a result, bias is created in technology that disproportionately affects the future of black women and the overall black community.
As leaders, we must help build the confidence of black girls. Yes, representation is essential. However, we've been pushing the platform of representation for years. We must develop strategies in the present. Waiting for representation cannot be the only strategy. Time is of the essence. Innovation occurs daily; we need disruptive leaders who can lead from a different perspective. As a leader, if you're thinking representation is the only strategy…Slay What Ya Hear!..become creative and build a new system! Black girls belong to the world. We need all hands on deck!