Social Impact Internships: Hudson Powers (’23)

README: Reflection from a tech-for-good summer

Hudson Powers (’23) is a rising senior who was placed with the Majira Project as part of the PKG Center’s Social Impact Internship program. Hudson worked as a front-end software developer for BestFit, who the Majira Project supports as part of their commitment to economic justice for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities.

The space between 

The space between my moving face 

And a low-res, pixled portrait on the screen.

A static shot; they haven’t seen

My face contort since early June,

Or smile when I described the moon

I spent with friends in a graveyard.

The space between each other in a camera-off community. 

A picture of a person I have never seen

Meets with me twice a week

To answer questions quietly,

Disquieting awhile to me,

Quickly, my own camera falls. 

In July I feel nothing at all.

The space between the mission and my days:

The keyboard clacks; the humming haze

An aching back; getting paid

The things I lack are a winding maze

Of life lived and hope affirmed and skills acquired-

Yes, I was hired- But 

Have I become a deficit?

It’s hard to say that I really fit when there is no space to fit into.

If I saw a face

Or they had a home

Or I touched the hands that lift this load

I would understand where the effort goes

And why I spend my days alone

git push

I send a fraction of a gasp through the terminal. It travels through

My mind

My hands

My machine to

A server I will never see, saving, somewhere

The color teal in hexadecimal 

It travels through an intern, a social worker, a head of programming,

Who has spoken our intern, our social worker, our head of programming;

It will be sent to the screens of people, none of which will notice its hue.

If we are lucky, it travels through someone with power, 

Someone who can pay to bet on the gurgled puffs of a newborn to circulate the room.

Teal will never reach you, but the gasp might pass

Through the product that power buys

That you will maybe use.

It is not enough to sustain you;

It does not pass through the minds of the many or the laws of the land for it is ambivalent to changing them-

When my slice of a sigh finds you, do you even taste it?

Do you feel enriched by the breath of my work?

For all my striving: May the machine breathe into you.

(NOTE: I was assigned to the Majira Project this summer, but my poems reflect the experiences I had working for BestFit, a company that the Majira Project sponsors and I worked with) 

I had a lot of complicated feelings about my PKG experience this summer. This is not because it was a bad experience, but more that I had to confront some of the failings of the tech industry, which I will likely be entering once I graduate. Throughout these past months, I’ve felt like there was a conflict in me. There is a dutiful, logical, and maybe incurious part of me that believes the code I write will do good in the world; it clashes with the radical, the emotional, and perhaps the selfish in me that wants to feel like I’m making a difference and consequentially questions whether programmers and marketers are really equipped to address issues of social justice. In my reflection, I wanted to explore the second of these impulses, and felt that a more intuitive and expressive form of writing, like poetry, could capture dimensions of sensitivity that a blog post could not.

My first poem “the Space Between” addresses prompt #6, where we are asked to draw connections between our internships and our own professional and/or academic lives. With this prompt, the first thing I thought of was the isolation I experienced as a developer in a remote-work environment. This poem, to me, explored how feelings of disconnection from my coworkers also inspired a sense of disconnection from the goal we were trying to accomplish as a company. I learned that, as a programmer I will want to work in an in-person office so I can feel connected to those around me. My second poem “git push” loosely addresses prompt #2: My company participates in social entrepreneurship, and I wanted to express the anxiety that I had, that the good intentions of social entrepreneurship have the potential to be lost along a long chain of interactions in a way that direct action doesn’t suffer from. 

Tags: Social Impact Internships, Social Impact Internships Summer 2022, Tech for Good

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