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Examining Technology, Race, Equity, and Ethics in Education

The TREE Lab

News // YPRPT: Documentary Film Screenings

June 17, 2020

In partnership with the TREE Lab in Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy, the Block Museum presented a special online screening, on June 17, 2020, of three documentaries produced by students of the Young People’s Race, Power, and Technology (YPRPT) project. YPRPT is an afterschool program, developed in partnership with community partners including Evanston Township High School, Family Matters, Endangered Peace, and the Lucy Parsons Labs, that brings together NU undergraduate students with youth and community members to jointly investigate the ethical and social dimensions of specific law enforcement technologies such as facial recognition and gang databases.

The screening was introduced by professors Sepehr Vakil (Northwestern University) and Raphael Nash (DePaul University), followed by a live panel discussion between the YPRPT student filmmakers. The conversation was moderated by Jessica Marshall (PhD student in Learning Sciences at Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy).

Below, you can watch the recordings of the event, which include a brief introductory presentation by Professor Sepehr Vakil (Northwestern University) on the YPRPT project, three short films by YPRPT student filmmakers, and a Q&A between filmmakers and program mentors.


Professor Sepehr Vakil (Northwestern University) introduces the screening, Young People’s Race, Power, and Technology: Policing Surveillance.

Link on Vimeo

The Documentaries


Filmmakers: David Lewis, Jessica Rodriguez, Izadorius Tortuga

The documentary depicts how the gang database targets black and brown young men by labeling them as gang members in a database, which they can never get out of. This label causes irreparable damage to black and brown communities since being in the gang database can lead to eviction, not finding employment, and loss of scholarships. Because the police department does not notify individuals upon their placement into the database, this documentary also explores the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as a means of self-empowerment. We hope that this film causes awareness of a detrimental tool used against black and brown communities.

Link on Vimeo

Racial Recognition

Filmmakers: Yuzuka Komiyama-Kasai, Gregory Voelkel

In the last 25 years, Facial Recognition Technology transformed from a sci-fi movie gimmick to a go-to instrument used by police, governments and corporations alike. Now, Facial Recognition is present in our everyday lives; yet the technology is flawed, posing an immediate threat to marginalized communities and, on a broader scale, our Lab civil liberties. Racial Recognition hopes to raise awareness and promote change within the world of Facial Recognition.

Link on Vimeo

Melting ICE

Filmmakers: Eliana Chandra, Jazminé Morrow

The topic of immigration has become more prevalent over the past few years. It is crucial to understand the role of ICE. They use technology such as social media to aid in their efforts of deportation and family separation. On the flip side, communities have taken up their own defenses and use technology to protect themselves from ICE. Melting Ice serves to expose ICE’s practices while uplifting and informing communities.

Link on Vimeo


Q&A for Policing Surveillance: A YPRPT Documentary Series event between student filmmakers with moderation by Jessica Marshall (PhD student in Learning Sciences at Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy). Involved in this discussion are the student filmmakers Eliana Chandra and Jazminé Morrow (Melting Ice); Yuzuka Komiyama-Kasai and Gregory Voelkel (Racial Recognition); as well as David Lewis, Jessica Rodriguez, and Izadorius Tortuga (Targeted) along with YPRPT mentors Raphael Nash and Sepehr Vakil.

Link on Vimeo