Newsletter Vol. 3 No. 7 – July 2023

Banner of a computer on the top left and a person using a computer on the top right with the title "AI + The BIPOC Workforce - July Newsletter" in the middle.
Making the AI future work for you

This month, we are focusing on the relationship between AI and the BIPOC community.

For those who stay up to date with the latest technologies and trends on the internet, the rise of artificial intelligence is old news. Almost everyone has seen AI generated images featuring things ranging from faked social media posts, to more alarming images of political events that never occurred. This article, though, will focus on the practical applications of the AI-revolution; how it will affect the job market, the workforce, and the BIPOC community. The most surprising part of the AI craze is that it is not the harmless generated images that will have the largest impact on our lives, it’s plain text.

Before moving on, it is important to recognize AI’s capabilities, or lack thereof, and its relationship in representing the BIPOC community. AI applications we’ve seen spring up over the last year are neural networks: a system that is modeled off the human brain to help solve complex problems, see patterns, and make predictions. It does this by using data to train itself to respond to prompts given by the user. This differs from machine learning, a strategy that has been around for years, in that machine learning does not have the capabilities to form bias, it simply learns what users want. An uncontrolled network can choose to discriminate and exclude groups in things like sorting algorithms or surveys. Moreover, under a neural network, biased responses are generated when biased data is used. This is most prevalent in image generation, something machine learning was previously unable to do, where users found that depictions of various scenarios, such as crime, promote racist stereotypes about certain groups.

Most of the controversy surrounding AI, however, is regarding the potential replacement of workers, specifically in the arts. Photographers, graphic designers, 3D artists, and even musicians and filmmakers are all soon to be at risk. As these neural networks grow and become more consumer friendly, hiring an artist to create an art piece will be thousands – potentially millions – of times more expensive than the AI-generated alternative. 

That said, it is not only the arts that are at risk. Many entry level white collar jobs can be easily replaced by text and code generation. ChatGPT, the world’s most popular AI text generator, has capabilities that defy many new user’s expectations. Copywriting, marketing write ups, email correspondence, et cetera, can be written convincingly, for free, and in a matter of seconds. Further, ChatGPT has capabilities to create and analyze spreadsheets, plus complex math is incorporated and explained in a breeze. Programming jobs, once thought to be in the highest demand, will soon meet a similar fate. While the current version of ChatGPT still has trouble writing complex, all in one scripts, it can create entire websites with HTML and CSS perfectly without the user having ever written a line of code in their life. As time goes on, accuracy will expand to successfully produce code in any language, for any application. 

This is not all bad news. The most effective users of these applications do not use them to replace their jobs, but merely to make them more efficient. Writers can get ideas, proofread, and generate outlines to streamline the writing process. Artists can quickly generate inspiration, references or filler/details for their work in a variety of mediums, allowing for more time to focus on whatever they deem important. Pertinent to VT PoC, job seekers may find significant benefit by using AI in the job applicant process. Drafts of cover letters can be generated quickly and accurately by simply copying and pasting job descriptions plus information about the applicant into a prompt. This alone can significantly decrease the time and effort it takes to submit an application, and can be especially valuable to those needing to find a job under a time constraint. 

It should be noted that applications like these will fill in any gaps with false or misleading information, so never submit anything without reviewing, correcting, and making it your own.

In addition to supporting productivity, there’s an argument that what roles AI can replace are those that should be phased out anyways. Data entry, and stock photography, two examples that can be eliminated today, are undesirable and lackluster positions in most cases. Assuming AI has the power to replace these jobs with accuracy and precision, Is it not natural that these roles are outsourced in the same way coal mining with lanterns and pickaxes were? 

To get an artist’s perspective on the threat of neural networks, VT PoC reached out to Onyekachi Ngameze, a Burlington-based artist and designer for their thoughts.

“The rise of AI has made me wonder about the future of art. Recently, we saw that the opening intro to Marvel’s Secret Invasion was made with AI. We see songs and videos made with AI using the likeness and voices of real people. On one hand, I believe that AI has allowed large corporations to further exploit the work of human artists while also denying artists from marginalized groups entry into the industry. On the other hand, I see AI simply as code. When Adobe came out with their programs, it was believed that the role of the fine artist was rendered obsolete. However, we found that this new technology was only as powerful as the user. AI could never truly beat out human artists because we are the source material for this technology.”

In the grand scheme of things, the AI revolution is still in its infancy, and time will tell whether these ethical concerns are ever addressed. That being said, it is an unstoppable force with little indication that it will be regulated any time soon. Are you willing to take advantage of it? 

For more information on this topic, see our monthly spotlight article featuring Coumba Win. 

Check out Onyekachi’s work at!

Want to try using these systems yourself? Here’s a few options to choose from:

About the Author

Dylan Rhymaun moved to Chittenden County in 2017 and now resides in Winooski. He’s a writer and artist who professionally works in Investments for education and disability savings. Dylan has also worked with the VT PoC Network briefly via the VT Health Equity Initiative and looks forward to continuing to support the organization. View more of their work at


This month, we’re highlighting Coumba Win! Coumba is a web designer based in Burlington, VT, who relocated from New York to attend school at Middlebury College. She appreciates the characteristics that make Vermont ‘small’—the population and size—because of the supportive community and the lack of distraction from the typical hustle and bustle.

In this spotlight, Coumba shares her story, her career, her perspective as a person of color in Vermont, and her thoughts about AI in the UX design field.


July 22 – VT PoC x The Nature Conservancy Nature Walks 2023 – Mt. Philo (9:30 AM)

Get excited for more VT PoC x The Nature Conservancy walks this summer!

July 6 – The Flynn Presents Ziggy Marley with Urian Hackney (8 PM)
Ziggy Marley is an eight-time Grammy winner, Emmy winner, musician, producer, activist and humanitarian who has cultivated a legendary career for close to 40 years. The eldest son of Bob and Rita Marley, Ziggy has chewed his own path as a musical pioneer, infusing the reggae genre with funk, blues, rock and other elements through mindful songcraft. Equal parts master storyteller and motivational guide, he deftly explores issues from environmental awareness to self-empowerment, social injustice to political inequity, while returning again and again to the transformative power of love. And over the past 15 years with his own companies, Tuff Gong Worldwide and Ishti Music, Marley has complete control of his masters and publishing; alongside his charity URGE – benefiting the well-being of children in Jamaica, Africa, and North America.

July 8 – Safe Spaces – BIPoC Read It & Eat It (10:10 AM – 11:30 AM)
Together we will read a book geared towards building our young Kings and Queens self esteem and then prepare a recipe inspired by the book together. Recipes are always kid friendly and require minimal prep by adults. This is a BiPoC community access program only, Zoom and in person locations.

July 8 – Firefolk Arts – Peace of Mind Art & Food Pop Up (2:00 PM – 5:00 PM)
Featuring a special line up of AAPI / Asian / APIDA artists and vendors! There is free entry and all ages are welcome.

July 8 – Twilight Series: Kyshona Armstrong (w/ Steve Hartmann) (6:30 PM – 9:30 PM)
Audiences will find a common thread of empowerment, overcoming adversity, and finding hope in her work. The show doesn’t end when the last song is sung. After her powerful performances, concertgoers often ask, “What can I do?” Her response? “Listen.”

July 14 – Safe Spaces – BIPoC Game Night (7:00 PM – 10:00 PM)
Sometimes we just need a night out without going out. So throw on something comfy and let’s have a game night! Donations welcome and help cover the cost of childcare, food and drinks. Feel free to BYO drink, snack or something to share.

July 21 – Safe Spaces – Womens Night (7:00 PM – 10:00 PM)
A Safe Space dedicated to fostering a sisterhood of love and building each other up. Group will meet the 3rd Friday of every month until the group decides otherwise.

July 27 – Safe Spaces – Jol Indaba: BIPoC Youth Social Club (10:00 AM – 6:00 PM)
A space for fun and community building. Join us for our second gathering! Let’s connect over Zoom and in person where available, in small groups or solo & have a great time getting to know each other and learning how to be our best selves! All ages are welcome. Activities based on turn out.

VT Racial Justice Alliance – Black Artist Showcase (Various Dates, 6 – 8 PM)
The Black Artist Showcase will be held at The Richard Kemp Center on July 7, August 3, and August 4. Enjoy music and spoken word from local Black artists.

SUSU commUNITY Farm – Liberating Our Sorrow: Dagara Grief Ritual (July 7 – 9, 9 AM – 5 PM)
Inspired by the Dagara lineage of Sobonfu & Dr. Malidoma Patrice Somè, this 3-day in-person grief ritual will facilitate the unburdening of current & historical sorrows. Join us as we fall apart in the embrace of community and in the presence of our Ancestors. We will utilize the healing arts of embodied storytelling, artistic creation of personal grief shrines, and collective somatic release practices. When we unburden our hearts collectively, we have access to more Joy, Vitality & Clarity of Vision & Purpose on the other side! This AfroIndigenous-centered space is open to all at no cost. Meals are included for the duration of the event and camping spaces are available.

The Root Social Justice Center x Hatch Space – Free BIPOC Woodworking Affinity Spaces (July 17, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM)
Summer empowerment zone – join our summer BIPOC affinity spaces! If you identify as Black, Indigenous, Person of Color feel warmly welcome to find and build community around woodworking. Bring something to fix, make, or share. All skill-levels welcome, and older kids too. Hosted by the Root Social Justice Center. Recurring every Monday through August 28.


Director of Vermont Human Rights Commission, Bor Yang, leaves her position
On July 28, Bor Yang will depart from her position to accept a job with the Oregon Legislature. During her tenure, Yang was the first person of color to lead the state government agency that investigates discrimination claims and was an advocate for stronger protections against discrimination and harassment. Read more about her work here.

Call for Speakers for the 802 North by Northeast Conference for Small Businesses
Share your brilliance with Vermont sole proprietors, solopreneurs, and small businesses! The Community Navigator Pilot Program is hosting a full day of workshops, networking, and table talks on Saturday, September 30, 2023, at Vermont State University, Randolph Center (formerly Vermont Tech). We seek people to present workshops, moderate and participate in panels, and host table talks on topics that will help a (very) small business and sole proprietor start and/or grow and thrive. Find more details and link to apply here.

Storyteller Ferene Paris Meyer on Black joy as birthright
Ferene Paris Meyer, a Haitian-American storyteller based in Burlington, went on Vermont Public to talk about her career, her experiences in Vermont, and Black joy as her birthright to have. Watch the conversation here.

‘A Piece of Mexico in Bridport’: At Tacos Doña Alejandra, a migrant cooks up community
Alejandra Perez, owner of Tacos Doña Alejandra in Addison County, started off building her own community by making and selling authentic Mexican food outside of her home. Her shop evolved as a safe space for the migrant community as well as a rare, authentic culinary experience for Vermont-native customers. Click here to read about Perez’ story and growing business.

Vermont families stuck on child care waitlists
Vermont Public interviewed four families stuck on child care waitlists to learn about what decisions they are forced to make and how they are managing. Listen to the episode or audio read the transcript by clicking here.

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