Show an ad over header. AMP

Virtual reality, augmented reality tools bringing true effects of racism to users

New virtual and "augmented" reality technology is allowing users to experience 1960s civil rights marches, the agony of segregation for Black Americans, or life in a Japanese American internment camp.

Why it matters: For now, this is largely a tool for educators seeking new ways to teach young Americans about the legacy of slavery and racism. But there's growing commercial potential as more people become comfortable using technology to expand their horizons.

  • Shipments of VR headsets are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 48% from 2020 to 2024, the International Data Corporation reports.
  • The augmented reality market is estimated to jump from $10.7 billion in 2019 to $72.7 billion by 2024, according to ReportLinker.

Details: Projects created in universities and private labs forces users to walk in the shoes of people who faced (and still face) discrimination by recreating historic events.

  • I Am A Man VR Experience places participants at the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Worker’s Strike and events leading to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Traveling While Black takes users to Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington as travelers show the difficulties African Americans experienced in the U.S. during Jim Crow.
  • Mapping Amache allows users to visit virtual remodeling of Camp Amache in Granada, Colo., that detained Japanese Americans during WWII. The models were created by drones and VR technology.

How it works: Projects can be downloaded or watched via 360 video on VR headsets. Users feel as if they are in the moment.

  • Participants can interact with controllers but their hands on those of people of color.
  • Those without pricey VR headsets can experience most projects by using 360 videos on laptops or phones.
  • Users engaged with AR projects by pointing smartphones at sites (or at home) that recreate models of locations.

What’s next: "I Am A Man" creator Derek Ham is designing a new VR project based on the Negro Baseball Leagues. "You can get struck out by Satchel Paige, then see him having a hard time getting a hotel room."

  • Martinez is developing a digital map of forgotten Mexican Americans lynched in Texas that will include their names and planned VR recreation of sites.
  • Columbia University Social Work professor Courtney D. Cogburn, the lead creator of 1000 Cut Journey, forces participants to embody a Black male via VR from a child to an adolescent, then an adult.
  • Start-up Vantage Point is developing a VR project to help companies fight racial discrimination and gender inequality through interaction.

What they’re saying: "This is a powerful medium that allows you to experience the perspective of another person, and maybe, just maybe, you'll change your own perspective [on] how people experienced life as a Black person," said Ham.

  • "It took us five years to get four historic markers that memorialized Mexican Americans lynched in Texas," said Refusing to Forget member and University of Texas history professor Monica Muñoz Martinez.
  • "These new technologies allow us to circumvent those who refuse to acknowledge this history."

Report: U.S. urges UN-led Afghan peace talks and warns of Taliban "territorial gain" threat

Secretary of State Antony Blinken proposed in a letter to President Ashraf Ghani steps including a UN-facilitated summit to revive stalled peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, Afghanistan's TOLOnews first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: Blinken expresses concern in the letter, also obtained by Western news outlets, of a potential "spring offensive by the Taliban" and that the "security situation will worsen and the Taliban could make rapid territorial gain" after an American military withdrawal, even with the continuation of U.S. financial aid.

Keep reading... Show less

Harry and Meghan accuse British royal family of racism

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle delivered a devastating indictment of the U.K. royal family in their conservation with Oprah Winfey: Both said unnamed relatives had expressed concern about what the skin tone of their baby would be. And they accused "the firm" of character assassination and "perpetuating falsehoods."

Why it matters: An institution that thrives on myth now faces harsh reality. The explosive two-hour interview gave an unprecedented, unsparing window into the monarchy: Harry said his father and brother "are trapped," and Markle revealed that the the misery of being a working royal drove her to thoughts of suicide.

Keep reading... Show less

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has taken the coronavirus vaccine

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tells "Axios on HBO" that he recently received his first of two doses of the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Bourla told CNBC in December that company polling found that one of the most effective ways to increase confidence in the vaccine was to have the CEO take it.

Keep reading... Show less

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse: SEC lawsuit is "bad for crypto" in the U.S.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tells "Axios on HBO" that if his company loses a lawsuit brought by U.S. regulators, it would put the country at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

Between the lines: The SEC in December sued Ripple, and Garlinghouse personally, for allegedly selling over $1.3 billion in unregistered securities. Ripple's response is that its cryptocurrency, called XRP, didn't require registration because it's an asset rather than a security.

Pfizer CEO: "It will be terrible" if COVID vaccine prices limit access

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told "Axios on HBO" that it "will be terrible for society" if the price of coronavirus vaccines ever prohibits some people from taking them.

Why it matters: Widespread uptake of the vaccine — which might require annual booster shots — will reduce the risk of the virus continuing to spread and mutate, but it's unclear who will pay for future shots or how much they'll cost.

Keep reading... Show less

Lindsey Graham intends to "lean into" climate change during Biden era

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told "Axios on HBO" he intends to "lean into" climate change and that he has already discussed potential common ground with President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry.

Behind the scenes: In a follow-up interview with Axios, Graham said Kerry called him in November, around the time Kerry's new position was announced, to see if there were openings to work together.

Keep reading... Show less

Lindsey Graham: Trump could make the GOP "stronger" or "destroy" it

Sen. Lindsey Graham told "Axios on HBO" that Donald Trump has a "dark side" but he tries to "harness the magic" because he succeeded where Republican candidates like John McCain and Mitt Romney failed.

Why it matters: The South Carolina Republican gyrates between support and criticism of the former president, even after Trump harshly criticized McCain — Graham's longtime friend — and helped spark the Capitol insurrection.

Keep reading... Show less

Senate plots its own earmark comeback

With the Senate done battling over President Biden's coronavirus rescue package, it's preparing to tackle another priority: earmarks.

Driving the news: Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the top members on the Senate Appropriations Committee, are expected to work out a deal restoring the congressional spending tool in the coming weeks, committee aides tell Axios.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories