Maurice Cherry: Where are the black design­ers? This is a pre­sen­ta­tion which was orig­i­nal­ly giv­en at South by Southwest Interactive on March 15, 2015. Let’s go ahead and get start­ed. As you are lis­ten­ing to this pre­sen­ta­tion, please use the hash­tags #WATBD and #AIGATogether to con­tin­ue this con­ver­sa­tion online.

Now a brief intro. My name is Maurice Cherry. I’m from Selma, Alabama—yes, that Selma. This is my old high school. Doesn’t look like this any­more, they tore it down, now it looks like this:

In 1996 I decid­ed I real­ly want­ed to learn more about the Web. I had com­put­ers at home as a kid. I was real­ly inter­est­ed in learn­ing about pro­gram­ming and design and want­ed to know more about it. Because the Web as we knew it back then was just…bad. I mean, it was bad. It looked like this:

Screenshot of a very early version of the Apple web site

And it looked like this:

Screenshot of an early McDonald's web site, composed of a hand-drawn image of Ronald McDonald standing in front of servers at a counter

And it looked like this:

Screenshot of an early version of the Coca-Cola web site, with just a few images and links

And it also looked like this with these cool lit­tle green Matrix swirls before The Matrix was here:

Screenshot of an early Pepsi web site, showing a futuristic interface over a distorted green grid

I grad­u­at­ed high school in 1999, decid­ed I would go to Morehouse College. Because I want­ed to major in com­put­er sci­ence and com­put­er engi­neer­ing because I want­ed to be like this guy:

This guy is Dwayne Wayne who was a char­ac­ter on a pop­u­lar NBC sit­com at the time called A Different World. But as I start­ed going through my course­work and every­thing, I found that I still want­ed to learn about HTML. I still want­ed to be a Web design­er. And so when I went to my men­tor and I told him about this he sort of hit me with one of these:

Told me that I should prob­a­bly change my major because if you’re look­ing to do that now, we don’t offer that. So I changed my major to math, end­ed up get­ting my degree. Since then I have worked for some of these places and orga­ni­za­tions in Atlanta.

Various client logos, including WebMD, the Atlanta Falcons, and AT&T

In 2008 I start­ed my own com­pa­ny called 318 Media, where I do WordPress design, MailChimp tem­plates, things of that nature. I also teach. Here are some of the places where I teach, have taught, and will be teach­ing in the future.

DeVry University, Savannah College of Art and Design, MediaBistro

Here are some of the big projects that I’ve done so far, The Black Weblog Awards, The Year of Tea, Revision Path, 28 Days of the Web. I’ll talk about those last two in a lit­tle bit.

Logos for The Black Weblog Awards, The Year of Tea, Revision Path, 28 Days of the Web

Here’s some of the places that my work has been fea­tured as well.

Various media properties, including The Los Angeles Times, Ebony, and CNN

So let’s get to the meat of the pre­sen­ta­tion, where are the black design­ers?

How many black design­ers do you know? Just think about that for a minute. How many black design­ers do you know? If you find that there’s not many or you don’t know any at all, that’s actu­al­ly per­fect­ly okay. That’s fine. And part of the rea­son­ing I think behind this is that you know, we don’t real­ly know where they are. We don’t see them because they’re not reflect­ed in our design media.

They’re not reflect­ed as we look at speak­er pan­els that have major­i­ty white speak­ers. We don’t see them in pod­casts, or hear from them—we don’t hear their voic­es.

We def­i­nite­ly don’t see them on blogs. We don’t read about them in mag­a­zines. And unfor­tu­nate­ly that’s just what the design indus­try looks like. It’s a big mono­cul­ture and black design­ers are not part of that.

And now you might be think­ing well, hold on a minute now. The rea­son that there’s not that many black designs out there is because we don’t know how the design indus­try breaks down by race. And you’d be cor­rect in say­ing that. A List Apart start­ed a sur­vey in 2007 called Survey for People Who Make Websites. They did the sur­vey from 2007 to 2011. And they got some pret­ty good insights about the indus­try. I wouldn’t say as a whole but they did get some good insights about it.

I man­aged to talk to Sarah Wachter-Boettcher, who is the cur­rent Editor in Chief of A List Apart. And one thing that she told me was that the sur­vey was start­ed to build a col­lec­tive of the indus­try. You have to you know keep in mind now, 2007 the indus­try is still fair­ly new. Things are still real­ly chang­ing at a very rapid pace in terms of edu­ca­tion, in terms of job titles. The indus­try is still grow­ing and chang­ing. And so the sur­vey was a way to try to mea­sure that and see where we were going or what the indus­try looks like at a par­tic­u­lar time.

So while the sur­vey does give that infor­ma­tion, there are two impor­tant things that we have to real­ize. The first thing is that the sur­vey was more of a reflec­tion of A List Apart read­ers and An Event Apart atten­dees rather than the indus­try as a whole. This was some­thing that Sarah told me, that the sur­vey results real­ly don’t tell the whole sto­ry. They reflect most­ly those atten­dees and those read­ers, but you can’t real­ly use this infor­ma­tion and then make the claim that this is what the entire indus­try looks like.

A List Apart stopped doing the sur­vey in 2011. And I asked her well what kind of chal­lenges did you have with the sur­vey in terms of putting it togeth­er, in terms of keep­ing it going. And there were you know, two things. The first thing was that it is super com­pli­cat­ed. Finding out ques­tions, adding new ques­tions, remov­ing ques­tions unfor­tu­nate­ly does not real­ly lend any sort of his­tor­i­cal rel­e­van­cy to some of the results if you do that. Because if you ask a dif­fer­ent ques­tion in 2011, you don’t real­ly have a bench­mark for years before that. It got super com­pli­cat­ed to com­pile all the results and put them togeth­er into some­thing that real­ly gave a good snap­shot.

And the sec­ond thing is out­reach, you know. Reaching out to oth­er groups. Again, one thing that she told me was that the results real­ly kind of reflect­ed AEA atten­dees and ALA read­ers. And so doing out­reach to oth­er groups that might be out­side of that was some­thing that they didn’t real­ly have a whole lot of time for and so they stopped doing it.

Once A List Apart stopped doing it, unfor­tu­nate­ly there’s no oth­er orga­ni­za­tion that is real­ly kind of com­pil­ing those hard num­bers on the demo­graph­ics of the indus­try as it relates to these sorts of things. Unfortunately that’s just what it is. So there­fore what we look at the design indus­try, what we have to go off of, is what we see reflect­ed in our media, in our con­fer­ences, our pod­casts, our blogs, our mag­a­zines. This is what the design indus­try looks like.

So you might think, Okay, Maurice. So black design­ers aren’t reflect­ed in our media. What about top design and art schools?” I went to an art school. There was a black guy in my class. I’m pret­ty sure that that means that there are black design­ers in the indus­try.

Well, yes and no. So, I looked at a cou­ple of the top design schools here in the United States and looked at their per­cent­ages of black stu­dents. Rhode Island School of Design, 2%. Pratt Institute, 4%. Parsons-The New School of Design, 4%. Maryland Institute College of Art, 5%.

Savannah College of Art Design is 10%. I feel like this is high­er for two rea­sons. The first rea­son is that the cam­pus­es are here in the South. According to 2010 US Census reports, a large major­i­ty of black peo­ple in gen­er­al live in the Southeastern United States. It would make sense then that that would trick­le into high­er edu­ca­tion in terms of attendee num­bers or stu­dents. So that I can under­stand.

But if there’s one thing that I saw as kind of a nice, inter­est­ing par­al­lel, is that these single-digit or low-digit per­cent­ages kin­da mir­ror what we saw tech com­pa­nies doing last year when they talked about the diver­si­ty num­bers for their US work­forces. So we see that even if we look at these big art schools to try to find black stu­dents, it’s going to be hard to find them there.

Now, why aren’t they in those arts schools? There’s a num­ber of rea­sons for that. That could real­ly be a whole pre­sen­ta­tion in and of itself. What I want to do is intro­duce some­one to you.

This is Cheryl D. Miller. Cheryl D. Miller was a very promi­nent design­er in the 70s and the 80s. And in 1985 she wrote this sear­ing eighty-nine page the­sis when she was a grad­u­ate stu­dent at Pratt Institute titled Transcending the Problems of the Black Graphic Designer to Success in the Marketplace.” And this the­sis lays out sev­er­al rea­sons for why black design­ers are sort of start­ing behind in terms of their via­bil­i­ty in the indus­try. There’s a lack of fam­i­ly sup­port. The cost of art school and tuition and fees is way too expen­sive. There’s not enough finan­cial aid. There’s a lack of men­tor­ship. There are lots and lots of these points, enough real­ly for an entire­ly sep­a­rate pre­sen­ta­tion. I would love to dis­cuss those in depth. We don’t have that much time to real­ly do that here. But, there are a myr­i­ad of rea­sons.

Cheryl’s piece inspired an arti­cle in the September/October 1997 issue of Print mag­a­zine. And this arti­cle was titled Black Designers: Missing in Action.”

This arti­cle caught the eye of AIGA and Michelle Vernon Chesley, who wrote an AIGA Journal arti­cle in 1990 that was titled Equal Opportunities? Minorities in Graphic Design.”

Now, this par­tic­u­lar jour­nal arti­cle asserts a few argu­ments. The first is that the graph­ic design field did not open up to minori­ties in terms of for­mal edu­ca­tion until deseg­re­ga­tion from the Civil Rights Act. So we’re start­ing in maybe say like the 60s, late 50s, ear­ly 60s, right. The oth­er thing it asserts is that com­pa­nies are lazy in pur­su­ing minor­i­ty tal­ent. Third thing is that the pipeline, or what we know I think today as the pipeline, starts in high school or it needs to start in high school. Because then high school push­es them fur­ther to col­lege, which will push them out into the indus­try. Starting ear­li­er than that they didn’t real­ly talk about, but they real­ly sort of assert­ed that the pipeline starts in high school. And last­ly, edu­ca­tors need to play a more active role as it relates to talk­ing to minor­i­ty stu­dents about design and things of that nature.

From this arti­cle there was a sym­po­sium that was titled Increasing Minority Representation in Graphic Design. This hap­pened in September or so of 1990. And this was summed up in a 1991 report for AIGA that’s titled Why is Graphic design 93% White? Removing Barriers to Increase Opportunities in Graphic Design.” This was done by Brenda Mitchell-Powell.

So from this, there was a sur­vey. This sur­vey was direct­ed to 350 design firms, 235 design schools, and over 500 mul­ti­cul­tur­al design­ers. And the sur­vey results showed a num­ber of con­cerns that I think that we’re still see­ing to this day.

The first big con­cern is cul­tur­al exploita­tion. That’s some­thing which I think we’re all see­ing as brand say bae” and try to be on fleek.

There’s stereo­typ­ing. One of those things you can see sort of reflect­ed here, and this is an ad from Nivea Men that shows a black man hurl­ing anoth­er black man’s head with an afro and a beard, with the phrase look like you give a damn and reciv­i­lize your­self.”

And there are also cor­po­rate and soci­etal assump­tions of infe­ri­or­i­ty. A host of oth­er issues. If you have a chance to real­ly check out this 1991 report for AIGA, I high­ly rec­om­mend that you do that.

Also from this came a three-point ini­tia­tive. This ini­tia­tive was estab­lish­ment of a men­tor pro­gram for minor­i­ty stu­dents or minor­i­ty design­ers. The estab­lish­ment of a job bank or pro­gram sys­tem. And the imple­men­ta­tion of edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties.

Now, this three-point ini­tia­tive is some­thing that AIGA has con­tin­ued in part through­out the years, up until now which is what we see as as AIGA’s Diversity & Inclusion Task Force. For AIGA, diver­si­ty means facil­i­tat­ing chap­ter par­tic­i­pa­tion in mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism. And this is hap­pen­ing at the chap­ter lev­el, this is hap­pen­ing at the nation­al lev­el as well.

But here is the gotcha. AIGA does not and should not be the only orga­ni­za­tion that is hav­ing this con­ver­sa­tion. As a trade orga­ni­za­tion that does have a lot of design­ers as their mem­bers that’s sort of what their pur­pose is. It makes sense that they would be in front of the con­ver­sa­tion. However, they can’t be the only voice. They can­not be the only voice.

The stan­dard that you walk past is the stan­dard that you accept. Think about it this way. Do you own a busi­ness? Do you staff employ­ees? Do you have a design blog or a design pod­cast that has an active com­mu­ni­ty of read­ers or lis­ten­ers? Do you host a meet­up? Do you orga­nize a con­fer­ence? Do you attend mee­tups reg­u­lar­ly and talk with oth­er design­ers?

If you answered yes to any of these ques­tions then you have a respon­si­bil­i­ty as a work­ing prac­ti­tion­er in this glo­ri­ous indus­try that we know and love as design to help improve diver­si­ty. And grant­ed we are talk­ing about black design­ers and diver­si­ty is a large spec­trum. It doesn’t have to do just with race. It’s eth­nic­i­ty, it’s gen­der, it’s sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion, it’s nation­al­i­ty, it’s acces­si­bil­i­ty. It’s a lot of things. But as some­one who is a design­er in this indus­try, you have an oblig­a­tion and a respon­si­bil­i­ty to help improve diver­si­ty.

Once again, the stan­dard you walk past is the stan­dard you accept. Because guess what? This 1990 sym­po­sium, this ’91 jour­nal arti­cle? These same prob­lems are per­sis­tent in the indus­try to this day, right? Twenty-five years is far too long for this indus­try to keep ignor­ing the lack of diver­si­ty present, whether it’s black designers…whatever. From schools to edu­ca­tors to work­ing prac­ti­tion­ers, we all have to do our part if this is some­thing that we are seri­ous about in terms of con­tin­u­ing the liveli­hood of our indus­try.

So remem­ber this ques­tion I asked ear­li­er, how many black design­ers do you know? That’s why I said it’s okay if you don’t know any. That’s fine. The cur­rent design media is reflect­ed where you don’t see black design­ers. But here’s the thing, though. You have the pow­er. We’re going to talk about solu­tions, because you real­ly have the pow­er. And you may not think that you have the pow­er. But again, if you answered yes to any of the ques­tions that I talked about before, you have more pow­er and more priv­i­lege than you think you do in order to real­ly start to make change. So we’re going to talk about some solu­tions.

First off how do we fix the lack of black design­ers present in the indus­try? Now, ear­li­er we talked about out­reach. So I want to talk a lit­tle bit more about that, delve into it a lit­tle bit more.

First off there’s men­tor­ship. This is some­thing from when I’ve inter­viewed peo­ple with Revision Path to even just talk­ing with black design­ers here and there. Mentorship is some­thing that is still sore­ly need­ed in this indus­try as it relates to black design­ers. It is cru­cial in order to bring them up to let them know about the tools they need to use and the knowl­edge that they need to have. It is very very impor­tant that they have men­tor­ship.

The Inneract Project, which oper­ates out of the Bay Area is an orga­ni­za­tion by Maurice Woods, who I’ve talked with. And what they do is they pro­vide free design class­es for inner city stu­dents, to help them learn about design to get them kind of on the track if they want to become a design­er. It’s a great orga­ni­za­tion. I high­ly rec­om­mend you check it out.

If you don’t want to sup­port the Inneract Project because maybe they’re too far away from where you live, look at your local AIGA chap­ter. As a mem­ber, you can talk about these things, you can influ­ence change, you can talk to board mem­bers, you can talk to oth­er mem­bers. Look at your local AIGA chap­ter. Get involved in the Diversity & Inclusion Task Force. We would love to have you. You know, the more voic­es the mer­ri­er.

If you’re not a mem­ber of AIGA (and that’s fine) look at local high schools. Look at local mid­dle schools. There are tal­ent­ed stu­dents there that love to draw, love to design, but they may not know how do I real­ly turn this from a hob­by into a pro­fes­sion. Or more­so, how do I make this into a career. This is some­thing that you can do. You can speak to schools, you can speak to stu­dents. Or you can even start your own group. If you don’t like kids and you just want to talk oth­er adults or some­thing like that, start your own group, you know.

The thing that you have to under­stand is that black designers—and this is not for all black design­ers. This is some black design­ers. We’re oper­at­ing from a deficit in a num­ber of areas. Exposure, edu­ca­tion, inclu­sion. You don’t want to pigeon­hole these peo­ple. Don’t just give them black or African things to do, right. Talk to them. Give them your knowl­edge. The gift of your knowl­edge and your input is cru­cial in terms of real­ly sup­port­ing this indus­try and mak­ing it some­thing that you can be proud of.

Outside of men­tor­ship there’s also events. Again, if you put on a con­fer­ence or put on a meet­up, there are things that you can do to help make sure that you have more diverse atten­dees, more diverse speak­ers. Ashe Dryden has a won­der­ful post called Increasing Diversity at Your Conferences, which again this goes across the spec­trum of diver­si­ty that I talked about ear­li­er. You should check that out. There are things there that can be dis­tilled down not just the con­fer­ences but to mee­tups, to oth­er events, things of that nature. Coupled with out­reach, those are things that you can do.

If you hap­pen to own a design firm or a design agency or you’re in a posi­tion of man­age­ment at a design firm or agency, you know, you can do things from a man­age­ment per­spec­tive to try to bring in more black design­ers.

First thing you would want to do is to find a clear val­ue propo­si­tion. From there you want to estab­lish the facts, look at the root caus­es. Why do we not have more black design­ers? What are the rea­sons for that? I talked about some of these root caus­es ear­li­er in terms of staffing, or where you’re look­ing if you’re look­ing at art schools or things of that nature.

From there cre­ate tar­get­ed ini­tia­tives. If you have some­thing in your annu­al plan that talks about we want to staff X num­ber of black design­ers,” make a tar­get ini­tia­tive to make that hap­pen.

From there you would want to define gov­er­nance. Who in your com­pa­ny is going to own this task? Who in your com­pa­ny is going to be the one to see this through to make sure that it gets done?

And final­ly, once that’s done you want to build inclu­sion. It’s not enough to just bring in black design­ers or to hire black design­ers, but does your cor­po­rate cul­ture, does your depart­ment real­ly make sure that you’re includ­ing them, or are they just there as a token? Because if they’re just there as a token guess what, you’re prob­a­bly going to end up los­ing them soon­er rather than lat­er. So make sure that inclu­sion is built in to bring them in, make them a part of your com­pa­ny cul­ture, make them a part of your company’s fam­i­ly. What you don’t want to do is exploit them for prof­it, right. You don’t want to just bring in your black employ­ee and then exploit them to make them do the work for you. That’s not what they’re sup­posed to do.

Now, grant­ed this is not easy. It is not easy at all. This is going to be hard. It shouldn’t be easy. But you should be trans­par­ent and be truth­ful and I think that you will get the point across. Here’s the thing, remem­ber how I said the AIGA should not be the only orga­ni­za­tion that has this con­ver­sa­tion? It’s true. It’s very true. It’s going to take a sus­tained effort from a coali­tion of orga­ni­za­tions, agen­cies, design firms, con­fer­ences, design media, etc. to real­ly make this hap­pen. It can’t just be the work of one orga­ni­za­tion. And like I said before it’s also not the respon­si­bil­i­ty from black design­ers or from design­ers of col­or to fix this alone, right. We got our own shit to deal with. But that’s a whole oth­er pre­sen­ta­tion. But it should be up to us to fix a prob­lem that we didn’t cre­ate.

So what are the ben­e­fits of diver­si­ty for the design indus­try? Like what are the the real-world ben­e­fits of doing this? Well there’s a cou­ple of things. First thing is that you are cre­at­ing design solu­tions that ben­e­fit a wider range of peo­ple from dif­fer­ent back­grounds. What you don’t want to do is fall into the trap of homo­gene­ity, where you only have peo­ple of a cer­tain type in your com­pa­ny that are mak­ing deci­sions, because their view­points may only be to that cer­tain type. Having more peo­ple at the table, hav­ing black design, hav­ing a diverse group at the table, ensures that you have a wider array of input so you can then make solu­tions that can real­ly ben­e­fit a wider range of peo­ple.

Secondly, it solves the infa­mous tal­ent short­age prob­lem. Because guess what, you’re look­ing now in more places than you were before to find qual­i­fied peo­ple.

A man visible from the shoulders up, his face covered with mud

Thirdly, it pre­vents you from mak­ing stu­pid cul­tur­al gaffes that are born from homo­gene­ity. What you’re see­ing here on screen right now is an exam­ple of an ad cam­paign for Jeep in Argentina where it looks like this man is wear­ing black­face. Now, I’m not say­ing that they don’t have any black design­ers or they didn’t run this by any black peo­ple. But you know, this is bad. You don’t want this, right?

And also it’s good for busi­ness. I know that we’ve talked about this before in terms of the ben­e­fits of this for tech com­pa­nies. But from the design per­spec­tive there’s a 2009 study that was pub­lished in the American Sociological Review that showed a pos­i­tive cor­re­la­tion between racial and gen­der diver­si­ty, with increased sales rev­enue, prof­its, more cus­tomers, high­er mar­ket share, and greater prof­itabil­i­ty. So how much mon­ey are you leav­ing on the table by not try­ing to bring in a more diverse work­force?

Now, to be clear, these solu­tions that I talked about, this is not a cook­ie cut­ter one-size-fits-all solu­tion, right. You know your orga­ni­za­tion or your con­fer­ence or your meet­up best. So you will need to tai­lor your own pro­gram. But you have to make the con­cert­ed effort. As you can see, the ben­e­fits are there. It’s up to you on whether or not you’re going to do the work in order to reap the reward.

Now, where do you find black design­ers. That sort of is the ques­tion of this entire pre­sen­ta­tion? Where are the black design­ers, how do I find them? So, there’s a cou­ple of places.

First, I’d be remiss if I didn’t do a quick plug for Revision Path and 28 Days of the Web. Revision Path, there are new inter­views with black design­ers, devel­op­ers, etc. every Monday 10:00 AM Eastern. We just cel­e­brat­ed our two-year anniver­sary. That’s a good place where you can start. Next is 28 Days of the Web, where for every day in the month of February a dif­fer­ent design­er or devel­op­er is fea­tured. These are places where you can look. On 28 Days of the Web right now…this is 2015 so there are fifty-six design­ers there. Revision Path, right now there are sixty-nine, I think. Actually no we’ve done a hun­dred inter­views. So there are pod­cast inter­views as well as long-form inter­views with peo­ple. So this is a good place to start. This is a great place to start.

You might also want to look at Facebook. Facebook has sev­er­al groups. Here is a list of them. These groups range from 400 mem­bers, which is Black Designers United, to over 12,000 mem­bers. So there are lots of mem­bers in these groups here.

You can also look at LinkedIn groups like ADCOLOR, Black Creatives, Urban Creative Network. Interesting thing about black cre­atives, they also have these region­al sub­groups. So if you’re in the Southeast there’s a Southeast Black Creatives or some­thing like that which can help you drill down even fur­ther to try to find peo­ple.

Now, many of these groups are pri­vate, closed-off, invite-only. But that’s sort of par for the course when it comes with these types of things in the design com­mu­ni­ty. Just like any types of these groups, once you gain access ask your­self, Am I adding val­ue or am I just an inter­lop­er? Am I just lurk­ing?” In order to get val­ue, you need to add val­ue. So maybe you share infor­ma­tion about calls for pro­pos­als. Maybe you share infor­ma­tion about job open­ings, things of that nature. These are things you can do to add val­ue and then get val­ue back in return.

Also, one huge source that should not be over­looked are HBCUs. HBCU is an acronym for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. I’d be remiss if I didn’t men­tion my own alma mater Morehouse College here at the top. But Spelman College, Howard University, Hampton University, Florida A&M, Jackson State University. These are just a hand­ful of HBCUs that you can start to look at.

Now, there are some HBCUs that don’t even have a ded­i­cat­ed arts depart­ment at all. But don’t let that deter you in your search. Just because there’s not a ded­i­cat­ed our depart­ment does not mean there are not peo­ple there that are inter­est­ed in design, right. So look there at HBCUs, that’s a great place to look.

A woman looking up and to the side at a network graph of headshots

You can also look at your own net­work. Because you know, everyone’s got a black friend, right. You see her right there in the beanie. Ask your net­work. You’ll prob­a­bly get one of two sce­nar­ios. One, they may not know any­one either. That’s okay. But, they may know some­one who knows some­one that would be per­fect. That’s the oth­er sce­nario. But you won’t know unless you ask. Unless you put the ques­tion out there, that’s how you’re going to know.

And last­ly, you have to look at your­self. Look at your orga­ni­za­tion, your meet­up, your firm, your agency, your cor­po­rate cul­ture, and ask your­self this: What are we doing that might be turn­ing black design­ers away? What are your core beliefs? What are you not being clear about as it relates to your cor­po­rate cul­ture? Are your perks that are list­ed on your career page fil­ter­ing peo­ple out on pur­pose? You know, these are things you have to be bru­tal­ly hon­est about. If diver­si­ty is one of your core val­ues, you have to look with­in and say, Well what do I need to do in terms of chang­ing the cul­ture and mak­ing this some­thing that design­ers that do not fall into the main­stream would be inter­est­ed in?”

Now, to be hon­est this makes you feel bad. This will make you feel guilty. But that’s fine, that’s good. Guilt encour­ages you to have more empa­thy for oth­er peo­ple, to make cor­rec­tive actions, and to improve. And I think we all know that there’s noth­ing that design­ers like more than solv­ing prob­lems. It’s what we’re good at.

So in con­clu­sion I just want to say that change is a process, not an event. People like Cheryl D. Miller have done the research and laid out the ground­work for this issue near­ly thir­ty years ago. AIGA has done their part to kind of keep it going, with their sym­po­siums, with these jour­nal arti­cles, and even now with the work that’s done with the Diversity & Inclusion Task Force. But it can’t just be up to one per­son. It can’t just be up to one orga­ni­za­tion. Change is a process, not an event. This is some­thing that if we as an indus­try are seri­ous about diver­si­ty, it’s going to take a con­cert­ed effort from media, to con­fer­ences, to edu­ca­tors, every­one, to real­ly make sure this hap­pens. In 2015 it’s time to stop mak­ing excus­es and start mak­ing change.

So I want to give spe­cial thanks. Of course I have to thank AIGA for these arti­cles, for the work that they’ve done, for the nation­al Diversity & Inclusion Task Force. I have to give a huge thanks to AIGA.

Also have to thank all Cheryl D. Holmes-Miller. Cheryl right now is a cler­gy­woman. She lives in Connecticut. And because of this work that she’s been doing for so long now, she’s now inter­est­ed in get­ting back into talk­ing about this and teach­ing and real­ly get­ting back out there. So huge props to her for the infor­ma­tion and the con­ver­sa­tions that we’ve had.

Big thanks to Husani Oakley, who’s a good friend as well as my men­tor. Thanks to my GoFundMe sup­port­ers, Erica Mauter, Alexandria Eddings, Chanelle Henry, Brian Douglas, Jessica Ivins, Jacinda Walker. Thank you to Sarah Wachter-Boettcher from A List Apart for talk­ing with me and give me insight about the sur­vey that they did from 2007 to 2011.

Thanks to all the guests that I’ve had on the Revision Path pod­cast. All of you, all the peo­ple that I’ve pro­filed with 28 Days of the Web. And of course thanks to you. Thanks to you for being open and recep­tive. To lis­ten­ing to this. Hopefully you real­ly got some great infor­ma­tion out of this that you can use to then go for­ward into the indus­try and start to make the change. So that way when some­one asks you the ques­tion of where are the black design­ers, you can give an answer. Thank you so much for lis­ten­ing to this pre­sen­ta­tion.


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