Until recently, I was a director of data science at Thomson Reuters, one of the biggest news organizations in the world. It was my job, among other things, to sift through reams of numbers and figure out what they meant.
About a year ago, I stumbled on a really big story. It was about black Americans being gunned down across the country and the ways in which we report on that violence. We had been talking nonstop about race and police brutality, and I thought: This is a story that could save lives. This is a story that has to be told.
But when I shared the story with my coworkers, my boss chastised me, telling me expressing this opinion could limit my ability to take on leadership roles within the company. Then I was maligned by my colleagues. And then I was fired.
This is the story Reuters didn’t want to tell.
I had been at Thomson Reuters for over six years—most recently, leading a team of data scientists applying new machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to our legal, tax and news data. We advised any number of divisions inside the company, including Westlaw, an online legal research service used by most every law firm in the country, and the newsroom, which reaches an audience of one billion every day around the globe. I briefed the Chief Technology Officer regularly. My total annual compensation package exceeded $350,000.
In 2020, I started to witness the spread of a new ideology inside the company. On our internal collaboration platform, the Hub, people would post about “the self-indulgent tears of white women” and the danger of “White Privilege glasses.” They’d share articles with titles like “Seeing White,” “Habits of Whiteness” and “How to Be a Better White Person.” There was fervent and vocal support for Black Lives Matter at every level of the company. No one challenged the racial essentialism or the groupthink.
This concerned me. I had been following the academic research on BLM for years (for example, here, here, here and here), and I had come to the conclusion that the claim upon which the whole movement rested—that police more readily shoot black people—was false.
The data was unequivocal. It showed that, if anything, police were slightly less likely to use lethal force against black suspects than white ones.