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To put it simply, I started this data consulting practice to be able to talk about data equity with purpose and intention.
Data has been shown to us, taught to us using new words, fancy tools, and extraordinary charts. But that is not all that data is about. And, I don’t say it as permission to create a checklist, a how-to guide, or a best practices document. Data is a messy story – of you and me – complicated and rough. Just as donor data story is complex. It has parts that will never be perfect. And it will always have elements of biases in it, mainly because it is collected and measured by someone like you and me – imperfect and human. But, when that same data can be used to threaten, remove, and reduce voices, we must learn to react. And that is what we do here – talk about data in ordinary and fundamental ways.
Through this work, I am learning to be neutral about data and between being overly scared and overly excited about it. Every engagement under this NamasteData umbrella is about the story in the data – of you, me, your neighbor, and our community. We are still learning to acknowledge the hope and the error in that data.
Here are four truths I have learned about data that inspires my work. I am turning each of them into ordinary data impressions.
#1. We live differently in data, and we need to acknowledge it.
Image description: a visual representation of what it means to live with different community members in data. The representation is a mix of blue and orange rectangles representing the world and data within it (respectively), and within it are multi-colored and multi-size bubbles representing people. The multi-size bubbles indicate the subtle differences in power and privilege within the community and thus get reflected in the data.
#2. Data equity is a continuously evolving process.
Image description: a visual representation of what it means to be learning about equity within data, continuously learning from and within different identities. The representation is a set of blue circles depicting the data created in this world over time. Within each blue circle (i.e., data) exists tiny multi-colored, multi-size bubbles representing people. The multi-size bubbles indicate the subtle differences in power and privilege within the community and thus get reflected in the data.
#3. Data is not magic; it is a record of our stories from intersectional identities.
Image description: a visual representation of what it means to be in the data with our intersectionality in identity. The representation is a set of multi-colored, multi-sized, multi-shaped figures indicating unique people.
#4. No data is perfect.
Image description: a visual representation of how data elements are unique, different, and not necessarily perfect. The representation is a set of multi-colored, different shapes indicating unique data elements (e.g., tables, pictures, lists, etc.)
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