Tawana Petty is a mother, organizer, poet, and author. She has spent over 15 years teaching poetry as visionary resistance to unjust policies and practices. She is a long-time organizer whose work primarily focuses on racial justice and equity issues, as well as advocating for data and digital privacy rights. Tawana is the founding Director of Petty Propolis, a Black women-led artist incubator, which teaches year-round anti-racism and literary workshops, and hosts an annual art festival and artist retreat in historic Idlewild, Michigan.
She is an alumni fellow with the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford PACS and an alumni fellow and frequent invited facilitator with the Detroit Equity Action Lab. Tawana is the former National Organizing Director and Director of Programs for Data for Black Lives, former Data Justice Program Director for Detroit Community Technology Project, former co-lead of Our Data Bodies, and co-founder and former editorial board member of Riverwise Magazine. Tawana has also been a convening member of the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition since 2016. She has co-authored or consulted on numerous publications, including:
- Digital Defense Playbook
- Technologies for Liberation: Towards Abolitionist Futures
- A Toolkit for Centering Racial Equity Throughout Data Integration
- Consentful Tech Curriculum, From Protecting Ourselves to Taking Care of Each Other
- A Critical Summary of Detroit’s Project Green Lightand Its Greater Context
- Detroiters Want to Be Seen, Not Watched
Tawana is the recipient of several awards, including the Spirit of Detroit Award, the Woman of Substance Award, Women Creating Caring Communities Award, Detroit Awesome Award, University of Michigan’s Black Law Student Association’s Justice Honoree Award, was recognized as one of Who’s Who in Black Detroit in 2013 and 2015, received Wayne State University’s Center for Peace and Conflict Studies’ Peacemaker Award and a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition in 2018, and was named one of 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics in 2021.