Amplifying black and diverse stories at the center of the Wikimedia Foundation’s new collaboration with an African artist

ghanaian artist, Enam Bosokahwill create the first cohort of artworks depicting historical figures from Ghana and Senegal

The Wikimedia Foundation, the global non-profit organization that runs Wikipedia, has announced the launch of Unseen Wikia collaboration with artists to expand the visual representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in Wikimedia projects and advance knowledge equity.

Launching today, the first iteration of the project, a collaboration with artists from Africa, North America and the Caribbean, will help address the visual and written under-representation of several black historical figures on Wikipedia and in the Wikimedia Commons media repository. In addition to global artists, the Foundation collaborates with AfroCROWD.org, a Wikipedia volunteer-led initiative to create and enhance information about black culture and history on Wikipedia, as well as Bēhance, a social media platform which showcases the creative work on the initiative. .

Research shows that Wikipedia articles with illustrations increase audience engagement and views, creating an additional entry point for visual learners and expanding understanding of the information presented. With this in mind, the Wikimedia Foundation and AfroCROWD.org worked together to select 20 Wikipedia articles of historical BIPOC figures without visual representation, further collaborating with Bēhance to obtain a list of artists from the United States, Africa and the Caribbean. to create portraits. of each. This year, the artists will create portraits for six of the 20 historical figures in total.

Commissioned artists include Enam Bosokah from Ghana, Esther Griffith from Trinidad and Bukhtawar Malik from the United States. Among the first articles to feature new artwork are: Marian Ewurama Addy, William Greaves, Rose Dieng-Kuntz, May Miller, Mercedes Richards and Asquith Xavier. These portraits will be published throughout the month of February; they include personalities whose images are not under a free license and therefore cannot be added to Wikipedia articles.

“Wiki Unseen aims to make the stories of black people and those of other underrepresented people more visible on Wikipedia,” said Anusha Alikhan, vice president of communications at the Wikimedia Foundation. “Bridging gaps in knowledge equity – including visual gaps – is essential to ensuring that Wikimedia projects are accessible to everyone and represent the breadth of cultures, experiences and languages ​​of the world. We know our work is incomplete until the diversity of our world’s stories are seen.

When BIPOC stories are told, they too often lack visual representation. Of the 30+ articles in the African Royalty category on the English Wikipedia, for example, only three pages illustrate their topics. Visual aids and illustrations help people understand and retain information; their absence reinforces and perpetuates prejudice.

“Participating in this project is part of what I wanted to do as an artist in Africa. Black Africans have been left out of history and knowing that I can help right this wrong is an honor. Wiki Unseen gave me the opportunity to make a difference on a larger scale,” said Enam Bosokah. “I hope more African artists will answer this call and contribute to the free knowledge movement.

Wikipedia is powered by a global community of voluntary contributors working to advance Wikimedia projects in support of a vision to ensure that people everywhere can share the sum of all human knowledge. A central pillar of the Wikimedia movement’s 2030 strategy is to break down the social, political and technical barriers that prevent people from accessing and contributing to free, community-driven knowledge left behind by structures of power and privilege.

Wiki Unseen builds on previous efforts by Wikimedia volunteers, including Les sans pages, a French Wikipedia initiative, and Whose Knowledge?’s #VisibleWikiWomen campaign, which has carried out similar projects to close gender gaps.

About the Wikimedia Foundation: The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that manages Wikipedia and Wikimedia’s other free knowledge projects. Our vision is a world in which every human being can freely share the sum of all knowledge. We believe that everyone has the potential to contribute something to our shared knowledge and that everyone should be able to freely access this knowledge. We host Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects, create software experiences for reading, contributing, and sharing Wikimedia content, support volunteer communities and partners that make Wikimedia possible, and advocate for policies that allow Wikimedia and free knowledge to thrive .

The Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization that depends on donations. We receive donations from millions of people around the world, with the average donation around $15. We also receive donations through grants and institutional donations. The Wikimedia Foundation is a US 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with offices in San Francisco, California, USA.

About AfroCROWD.org: Afro Free Culture Crowdsourcing Wikimedia (AfroCROWD) is an initiative that aims to increase the awareness and number of people of African descent who actively participate in Wikimedia and the free knowledge, culture and software movements. AfroCROWD has educated thousands in its target audience about free cultural crowdsourcing and the need to bridge multicultural and gender gaps in Wikipedia. AfroCROWD has also organized monthly multilingual editathons in partnership with cultural institutions, galleries, libraries, archives, museums (GLAMs), colleges, universities and many others, including United Nations agencies and grassroots organizations.

About Behance: Behance is the world’s largest creative network for showcasing and discovering creative work.

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