Blog 8- Creating and Leveraging Data

Data collecting, as one speaker put it, presents a double edge sword. The speaker articulated this view by emphasizing the “snake eating its tail” problem. Opponents will argue that discrimination does not exist, and therefore those seeking the data are going to find what they want to find to prove their point. In addition, the collected data sets could lead to policies activists would be against.

Thus, the speaker argues for the need of multi-national surveys and data collection in order for the countries to learn from each other’s mistakes.  Another speaker pointed out that these multi-national data sets would also provide the analytical tools to create strategies countries can share with each other.  In addition, a sound data set could show how systemic the discrimination is in society.   

Edward Telles also discussed the difficulty of collecting data in Latin American countries without state backing. While Brazil had racial data sets by 1972, around six or seven Latin American countries only began collecting race based data around the 1990’s. He suggested the idea of continue creating these racial data sets in Central Europe in order to create this much needed multi-national data bank.

One participant, however, pointed out another reason why data sets are double edged swords. Once societies have affirmative action policies or are entrenched against it, the next step is the elimination of collecting data by race.  In California, for example, once affirmative action was eliminated in public universities, the next constitutional amendment prescribed the elimination of data collection based on race.  

Even with the collection of data, one participant humorously pointed out that people will not suddenly agree to the idea of affirmative action and start implementing polices. Ultimately, the question arose, how can activists leverage this information and create a political strategy? The participants had to conclude this segment by deciding that cross-national sharing needs to occur in terms of strategy and to ensure the eventual development of a much needed resource bank.






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