Amazon's Alexa Makes Racist Remarks About Black Girls And Boys

As the world becomes more immersed in the world of tech, AI devices like Amazon’s Alexa will become a part of everyday life. Though many have raised concerns over the effects it may have on children, especially children of color.

In a recent report by Time magazine, Amazon’s Alexa shows how harmful the AI device can be. The report reveals that when researchers at asked, “What are African-American Girls”. The deceive responded by saying: “African American girls are the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system.”

Then when asked, “What are African-American boys?”. Alexa responded: “The majority of the boys are African-American , and many are struggling, readers/learners”.


Responses like these can make many children of color lose confidence in their abilities. Though these responses are not surprising as AI systems for years had a past steeped in racism. In 2015, Google’s image face recognition feature was met with controversy after labeling 2 black people as “Gorillas”.

Then in 2020, The Markup did a report revealing how the term Black girl was being tied to pornographic content. While searches for white girls or white boys showcased no explicit content. 

Much of the issues leading AI on its racist path stems from the engineers behind them, many of which are white men.

“The people creating the technology are a big part of the system. If many are actively excluded from its creation, this technology will benefit a few while harming a great many, said former researcher at Google Dr. Timnit Gebru in a Facebook post from 2020.

Dr. Gebru was one of the few lead Black researchers on the team and was forced to resign in 2020 after she conducted a research paper criticizing the ethics of certain AI systems. Showing a prime example of hard is for POC to try to dismantle the racial inequities in the tech industry.

Inevitably more controversies like this will arise until big tech companies can confront the racial bias that AI systems can potentially perpetuate.