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At The Root is an ethical open source license for anti-racist projects

We are dedicated to ending the normalized and pervasive exploitation of black and brown people in software.


The only way to do this is to demand the projects we contribute to be actively anti-racist, not just in mission but in practice.

"Radical simply means 'grasping things at the root'" -- Angela Davis

The increased interdependence of software of people's lives, the need for the internet to be viewed as a utility, and the context of the politics in 2020 were at the inception of At The Root, by a black queer abolitionist. To help create a more equitable open source community please email




Where is the license?

We're working on it! If you'd like to help, send an email to

What is Ethical Source?

There has already been some work in the Ethical Source space. You can read more about it at the Ethical Source Collective: Ethical Source which aligns with the way that At The Root views it's impact.

If I use this license, can I use it with other licenses?

Is this an Open Source License?

No, this is an Ethical License for Open Source projects. To learn more about license like ours that tackle societal issues through #stacktivism, you can check out this list aggregated by Ethical Source. This license is adapted from the MIT license. For a more detailed explanation, please see wiki()

Is ATR License enforceable?

What is the goal?

Address The systemic racism and historic underinvestment in the black community.

What are the counter-arguments to adopting an Ethical Source License for my open source project?

To answer the question succinctly: There will always be vocal critics of creating a more equitable space for black people. These are not our allies. As we are trying to change institutions one on one, dismantling the tools of oppression, and empower contributors to know that the fruits of our labor are not being used to build a world we do not believe in. We are addressing how software systems are contributing harm of the most melanated, while some others do not recognize that remaining neutral enables these systems to flourish and cause more harm.

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor." -- Desmond Tutu