Meet the Badass Google Executives Behind This Year's Juneteenth Doodle
Annie Jean-Baptiste, the Head of Product Inclusion, and Angelica McKinley, the Doodle Art Director & Visual Storyteller, have different roles to ensure that Google products and visuals, which reach billions of people worldwide, are universally inclusive. "I feel super excited to be doing this type of storytelling at this scale," says McKinley, who unveiled a new Juneteenth Doodle today to commemorate the day of observance. Earning their seats at the table wasn't easy. "I never thought I would work in tech, because it wasn't something that people like me did," says Jean-Baptiste, a daughter of Haitian immigrants and an 11-year veteran of the company. Now that they're in power positions, both women are looking to pay it forward. "I consider myself lucky that with others like Annie, we can challenge ourselves to elevate this work for other generations," says McKinley. "Make sure you're lifting as you climb," agrees Jean-Baptiste.
Jean-Baptiste's accomplishments include diversifying emojis and facial recognition, as well as updating the Google Assistant software to be more reflective of the times. (Her personal device is voiced by none other than actress Issa Rae.) "Now when you ask Google Assistant, 'Do Black lives matter?' or 'Tell me a fact about Pride,' it has the cultural nuance to not only answer the question, but to help people feel seen," Jean-Baptiste says. "The goal was that no matter where you are in the world, who you love, how much money you make, or what color your skin is, you feel that our products and services are made with you in mind."
For this year's Juneteenth Doodle, McKinley partnered with illustrator Rachelle Baker on the above design, highlighting "scenes of Juneteenth celebration from the past to the present and focusing on the decorative ironwork contributions made by Black Americans. This style of decorative ironwork can be found throughout southern architecture, which was often forged by African American enslaved people and unrecognized freedmen," says a Google spokesperson.
"I wanted to further the ideas I had with Juneteenth 2020 by focusing on Black joy, happiness, and progress," McKinley says. Education also plays a role. "Since we're one of the largest places to go for information, we're giving people a chance to see something that they might not have looked for on their own. So, when you go to the home page to search for cupcakes or other items, we're using the Doodle to say, 'Hey, have you heard about this?'"
Both women are united in using their personal style as a mode of thoughtful expression. "I want to show myself as authentically as I can, so wearing my hair naturally in locs and having a nose ring are things that I like to do," says McKinley. And Jean-Baptiste will opt for certain pieces when the time calls for it. "I wear one thing from a Black-owned or underrepresented business for every big meeting. It's been fun expanding the designers that I know," she says. And if she needs a bit more oomph? "I power pose in the bathroom!"
For more stories like this, pick up the June 2021 issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download May 21st.