This letter is not about me.
This letter is not about George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery or Breonna Taylor or Trayvon Martin or Eric Garner or Philando Castile or Sandra Bland or, or, or...
This letter is not about the streets of the American cities that were lit aflame this weekend; or in May, 1992; or March, 1965; or May, 1921; or, or, or...
This letter is not about the police. It is not about the protesters on the streets, it is not about the violence.
This letter is not about politics.
My dearest design. This letter is about you. Some people might say that you’re just a pretty face, that you shouldn’t get involved, that all this has nothing to do with you. But we both know that at your very best, you are a representation of humankind’s place in time, and our interaction with this world around us. We also know that at your very worst, you are sheltered or over-privileged or superficial or white-washed or, or, or...
This letter is about representation. How can you, design, claim to have the tools to change this world for the better, when you cannot, to date, find a way to include more of the people who inhabit it? How can you celebrate a building that is newly built, when one is burning to the ground down the street? How can you stay silent, or worse, proceed with business as usual, for three full days while our world burns, and our black friends, families, designers, artists and creators suffer?
In this time of strife, many of our colleagues are publicly wondering, why are there not more black designers? I challenge you, and them, to look to the actions of our figureheads. Our CEOs, our fortune 500s, our influencers and our media. Some of them are doing what they can for inclusion, but so many more are silent. There is immense beauty in having the strength to use your platform to reach millions with a message of unity, or humility, or frustration. There is humanity in using your privilege to give voice to the oppressed.
Dear design: Are you Gensler, or 1stDibs, or Interior Design magazine, or Cooper Hewitt, or Herman Miller, or West Elm, or Dezeen, or, or, or…? Our buildings are on fire, our city is on fire, our world is on fire, our people are on fire.
This letter is about you, design, and it is about them, our black friends, families, designers, artists and creators. They deserve more than your silence and passivity. And while you haven’t yet earned the honor, we need more of them.
With love and sorrow,
324 Canal Street – 2nd Floor – New York, NY 10013
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