Apr 10, 2022
 min read

How to design with anti-racism in mind

I originally wrote this in May 2020, after George Floyd's murder. My friends and family in the Black community were hurting, and at first, the silence was deafening. I especially felt betrayed by my peers in the design community, many of who stayed silent at first, and chose to continue on posting on social media as normal, instead of taking a stance or acknowledging what had happened.

When I first wrote this, I was really heart broken at the lack of initial response from the design community. I felt alone, but also too scared of the repercussions of sharing this.

Over a year later, I feel a lot more brave, and ready to share this.

I don't know if I'll ever be "done" writing an article like this, but I'll return to it and continue to add as more things come to mind.

There’s a lot going on in our world right now. We’re being reminded of how ingrained institutionalized racism is in our society.

We’re seeing protests and demonstrations in response to repeated instances of police brutality against black people.

We’re seeing years of pent up grief and frustration

It’s a lot to take in. Speaking out,  being actively anti-racist, and educating ourselves are small steps we can take.

But what can we, as designers do, to create work that is actively anti-racist? That doesn’t reinforce stereotypes and racism that exist in our society’s institutions? There’s a lot of work to be done,  but where can we start?

1) Look  at your team. What’s the makeup of your team and how does it reflect the demographic of where you live? Of who you’re designing for? Of who you hope to reach?

As a general rule of thumb, you should have people on your team that look like your audience. What better way to  understand your users than to have people like them  on your team?

2) Look at  what you present as “normal”.

What do the images you use in your product look like? Who are the people you’re depicting? You send  strong messages through who you choose to present and showcase. Make these decisions deliberately. Think about why you feel you should depict certain groups of people over others.

3) If it’s  about us, include us.

If you’re creating something for or about a specific  group of people, include them. How else can you accurately depict them? We are the people who  can best tell our stories.

4) Take a Stance

Silence is deafening.

5) Support your Black team members.

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