Race and Equity in Design and Craft #diversity #inclusion


Annie Henly
 

Hello All! 

I attended Part 1 of a two part virtual event called Whose Standards? Racial Equity in Design and Craft yesterday and it was an amazing discussion including thoughts like...

Can we transform our institutions? What must be dismantled?
Change, process and constancy, rather than a finish line.
What do we need to give up in craft and design to get racial equity?
Discussing legacy, mentors, and tradition. 

The second part (you don't need to have attended the first) can be registered for here and takes place next Wednesday, October 14th: Whose Standards? Racial Equity in Design and Craft  I would highly recommend it, it is a panel discussion and there is a small question and answer at the end of it, no break out groups, so fear not, you do not have to participate! 

One thing that really stuck with me was said by the panelist Matthew Shenoda (learn about him here: https://www.matthewshenoda.com/), and I'm paraphrasing...
"The standards we live by ARE NOT UNIVERSAL, even if they seem so. Embrace contradictions. Stop being purists. The future is collaborative and communal, this is relational work and if we don't engage in this practice we will never get it right."

We must keep turning up, all of us- Black, white and brown- to fight for racial equity in ALL aspects of our life, including at our jobs and in our shops. It is our responsibility to change the systems we live in, so that the harm that we were caused up to this point will not be put upon those who come after us. This fight will not disappear by ignoring it, please join it, as it is easier on this side, being able to admit you don't know something, and then be ready to learn. The uncomfortable feeling that arises from talking about racism and white supremacy will not kill you. The racism and white supremacy of our culture IS KILLING PEPOLE. It is our responsibility to do better, starting where we are, in a shop.

I also want to put a small social pressure on each one of you reading this, please answer in this topic thread: Why do you think there are so few discussions of racism on this platform of SSMC? 


Ryan D Mandell
 

Hi Annie,

Thanks for this.  I will check out the above event.

In the not so distant past I told myself, "I'm not a racist, so there's nothing I need to do." Thankfully, the fallacy and wrong-headedness of this conception has become clear after some difficult conversations with individuals more informed and conscientious than myself. It is precisely people like me, who enjoy the privilege and power that comes with being a white, hetero male who must do something.

Our micro conference was helpful, and I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to attend seminars on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice through my university.  It is only after this initial work that I am starting to become aware of my blindspots and my complicity in systemic racism through inactivity.

To directly answer your question, I think it is easy to be unaware, silent, and complicit in a homogenous environment.  Even since joining this organization a few years ago it seems that the constituency has improved in diversity, and I am thankful that we have individuals such as yourself who are outspoken on this topic, but there is still much work to be done.

In our roles we have the opportunity to train people of color and individuals who do not identify as male, so they can go on to secure equivalent positions after graduation. This is a clear way to address the lack of diversity and equity in our field, generally, and a means to improve the diversity of SSMC's constituency, specifically.  I don't intend to hijack this thread by any means, but I would like to add a question to Annie's: what methods or approaches have others in the group developed in order to leverage their privilege to empower others?  I would be very thankful to learn from others in this regard.

Best wishes,
--
Ryan Mandell
Director, Fabrication Labs
School of Art, Architecture + Design
Indiana University


Molly Sanford
 

Thanks for sharing Annie, and for adding to the conversation, Ryan.

In response to your question, Annie, Why do you think there are so few discussions of racism on this platform of SSMC? I think part of the reason is the format. It's hard to have an open, vulnerable conversation with a group of strangers over an email forum which primarily discusses technical shop matters (which is, of course, useful). I really enjoyed putting faces to names for the first time at the DANDI (Diversity and Inclusion) conference, but we didn't get the chance to do that at the larger SSMC conference, which was a webinar format. I left the DANDI conference feeling heartened that so many of us are thinking about inclusion, equity and diversity and working to make our shops more welcoming, but that is not something I would have thought was going on based on conversations on the forum. I admit, I'm a bit averse to internet forums because of trolling. Perhaps the DANDI committee could think about hosting more regular, open forums where anyone can gather to talk over Zoom or something? To me, beyond planning the conference, the most valuable aspects of serving on the committee have been the informal conversations we've had and the community of support we've built for each other. I would love to extend that to the larger SSMC committee in some way.

Ryan's question, What methods or approaches have others in the group developed in order to leverage their privilege to empower others? This could be a good prompt for conversation. ;)

Would folks be interested in informal Zoom discussions like this? Any other ideas?

m





Molly Sanford
Fabrication Director, College of Design
Graduate Student, Arts & Cultural Leadership 
strategic | positivity | connectedness | futuristic | empathy
she/her/hers


On Sat, Oct 10, 2020 at 6:44 PM Ryan D Mandell <rmandell@...> wrote:
Hi Annie,

Thanks for this.  I will check out the above event.

In the not so distant past I told myself, "I'm not a racist, so there's nothing I need to do." Thankfully, the fallacy and wrong-headedness of this conception has become clear after some difficult conversations with individuals more informed and conscientious than myself. It is precisely people like me, who enjoy the privilege and power that comes with being a white, hetero male who must do something.

Our micro conference was helpful, and I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to attend seminars on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice through my university.  It is only after this initial work that I am starting to become aware of my blindspots and my complicity in systemic racism through inactivity.

To directly answer your question, I think it is easy to be unaware, silent, and complicit in a homogenous environment.  Even since joining this organization a few years ago it seems that the constituency has improved in diversity, and I am thankful that we have individuals such as yourself who are outspoken on this topic, but there is still much work to be done.

In our roles we have the opportunity to train people of color and individuals who do not identify as male, so they can go on to secure equivalent positions after graduation. This is a clear way to address the lack of diversity and equity in our field, generally, and a means to improve the diversity of SSMC's constituency, specifically.  I don't intend to hijack this thread by any means, but I would like to add a question to Annie's: what methods or approaches have others in the group developed in order to leverage their privilege to empower others?  I would be very thankful to learn from others in this regard.

Best wishes,
--
Ryan Mandell
Director, Fabrication Labs
School of Art, Architecture + Design
Indiana University


Glenn Armitage
 

Annie,
I am supervising in our facility during that time so I wouldn't be able to actively participate (reliably) and I wonder if that is a necessary element, or whether I could just play the audio out in the shop for everyone to hear?
Thanks for sharing.  I'll try to get to answering your question in the near future.
--
Glenn Armitage

Facility Manager
Center for Design
https://www.hampshire.edu/center-for-design/the-center-for-design

Hampshire College
893 West St.
Amherst, MA 01002


Annie Henly
 

Hello! Glenn, listening in the shop to it is a great idea, just don't forget to register so you have the link ready! Again, the event is tomorrow, Wednesday, October 14th: Whose Standards? Racial Equity in Design and Craft

Ryan, thank you for your considered thoughts, I REALLY APPRECIATE IT  when white men speak out, breaking white silence and white solidarity. It is not easy to do that, so thank you, it is the first step to healing our broken system. I hear you and also feel like I am just starting to see my own blind spots. I think your question, "what methods or approaches have others in the group developed in order to leverage their privilege to empower others?" would be a good one to discuss on this forum! It is pretty straightforward, and action oriented. It aligns with Ibram X. Kendi's work about how ideas and policies are either racist or anti-racist, there is no "not racist" (watch or listen to this video to hear more about this, https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=KCxbl5QgFZw) So, I'll make a new post with that question slightly reworded so people can begin putting together a list of what they have done to create more equitable shop spaces. This will be a useful tool kit.

That brings me to Molly's point, I agree, this is not the best place to have vulnerable conversations, those work best in person, and I thought the Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Conference was great and in our next DANDI meeting we discuss how to host more events like that. To her point about trolling, the fact that there has been no trolls on this discussion is very helpful and allows us to stay on topic, at least everyone in this group is aware enough to know lashing out is not productive. Haha, thanks for not trolling, I'm sure it was tempting! 

Also, anyone is welcome to start these conversations, I am in no way the leader of this, I just started it because I think we should be discussing it. I also am not asking any BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) to lead this, you deserve rest and I will not ask you to do more labor on this topic, you are welcome to contribute if you would like to, of course. 

Another note, as we continue this conversation in the DANDI subcommittee and on the email forum, let's keep focused on activism and not on learning. Let me explain, we each should be doing our own learning, in our own time, to understand how we all play a part in white supremacy, patriarchy, ableism, etc... (INTERSECTIONALITY, BABY). Posting comments and questions which may have easily googleable answers sometimes feels like an old scab getting ripped off for people who belong to certain groups. For example, when someone asks if dress codes can be sexist, I want to pull my hair out because the answer is YES, google it, learn about it on your own time. We don't want to be on here making each other's blood boil and retraumatizing each other with problematic questions. (I may get a troll with that comment... please resist) Yes, we will probably make mistakes, but let's have some social graces and try our best to be considerate.

Thanks for reading and for jumping into this conversation.

Annie Henly
Fabrication Technician
College of Design
University of Minnesota
 


nikkib
 

Thanks for the info Annie and the enthusiasm!  

To be honest in answering your question I think it is not discussed because as a whole the diversity of the student body at most institutions of higher learning is largely decided by admissions and is not very diverse due to the institutional and systemic racism we are trying to change.  It is easy to wash our hands of it, make it a non-issue and deal with the immediacy of the students that you come into context with on a daily basis.  Focus on the problems always at the forefront: safety, training and adequate staffing (in an equitable way of course)...all important and why we are there in the first place.  In short, we are in fairly comfortable positions and it is not like anyone has to protest to use the shops - you can just walk in or take a class (in most cases).  

Obviously this is not the answer.  There is much we can, should and are doing to immediately upend and change the situation in our spaces everyday.  We need to get out of that  comfort zone and push I /we do not have all the solutions and that is why this is such a great forum for discussion and sharing information.  This is absolutely where this conversation should be happening.  Onward!
nikki

Nicole Barbour
Director of Academic Facilities
313. 664. 7485

Preferred pronouns: she/her/hers   Never: Ma'am

College for Creative Studies
201 East Kirby | Detroit, MI 48202






Rodney Rojas
 

Hi Molly,
I think more frequent/recurring(?) informal Zoom discussions would be helpful and productive. I would very much like to participate in such discussions whenever possible. 

Rodney


From: main@myssmc.groups.io <main@myssmc.groups.io> on behalf of Molly Sanford via groups.io <mws@...>
Sent: Monday, October 12, 2020 11:51 AM
To: main@myssmc.groups.io <main@myssmc.groups.io>
Subject: Re: [myssmc] Race and Equity in Design and Craft #diversity #inclusion
 
Thanks for sharing Annie, and for adding to the conversation, Ryan.

In response to your question, Annie, Why do you think there are so few discussions of racism on this platform of SSMC? I think part of the reason is the format. It's hard to have an open, vulnerable conversation with a group of strangers over an email forum which primarily discusses technical shop matters (which is, of course, useful). I really enjoyed putting faces to names for the first time at the DANDI (Diversity and Inclusion) conference, but we didn't get the chance to do that at the larger SSMC conference, which was a webinar format. I left the DANDI conference feeling heartened that so many of us are thinking about inclusion, equity and diversity and working to make our shops more welcoming, but that is not something I would have thought was going on based on conversations on the forum. I admit, I'm a bit averse to internet forums because of trolling. Perhaps the DANDI committee could think about hosting more regular, open forums where anyone can gather to talk over Zoom or something? To me, beyond planning the conference, the most valuable aspects of serving on the committee have been the informal conversations we've had and the community of support we've built for each other. I would love to extend that to the larger SSMC committee in some way.

Ryan's question, What methods or approaches have others in the group developed in order to leverage their privilege to empower others? This could be a good prompt for conversation. ;)

Would folks be interested in informal Zoom discussions like this? Any other ideas?

m





Molly Sanford
Fabrication Director, College of Design
Graduate Student, Arts & Cultural Leadership 
strategic | positivity | connectedness | futuristic | empathy
she/her/hers


On Sat, Oct 10, 2020 at 6:44 PM Ryan D Mandell <rmandell@...> wrote:

Hi Annie,

Thanks for this.  I will check out the above event.

In the not so distant past I told myself, "I'm not a racist, so there's nothing I need to do." Thankfully, the fallacy and wrong-headedness of this conception has become clear after some difficult conversations with individuals more informed and conscientious than myself. It is precisely people like me, who enjoy the privilege and power that comes with being a white, hetero male who must do something.

Our micro conference was helpful, and I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to attend seminars on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice through my university.  It is only after this initial work that I am starting to become aware of my blindspots and my complicity in systemic racism through inactivity.

To directly answer your question, I think it is easy to be unaware, silent, and complicit in a homogenous environment.  Even since joining this organization a few years ago it seems that the constituency has improved in diversity, and I am thankful that we have individuals such as yourself who are outspoken on this topic, but there is still much work to be done.

In our roles we have the opportunity to train people of color and individuals who do not identify as male, so they can go on to secure equivalent positions after graduation. This is a clear way to address the lack of diversity and equity in our field, generally, and a means to improve the diversity of SSMC's constituency, specifically.  I don't intend to hijack this thread by any means, but I would like to add a question to Annie's: what methods or approaches have others in the group developed in order to leverage their privilege to empower others?  I would be very thankful to learn from others in this regard.

Best wishes,
--
Ryan Mandell
Director, Fabrication Labs
School of Art, Architecture + Design
Indiana University


Annie Henly
 

The second part of the panel discussion on Racial Equity in Design and Craft was eye-opening, if a recording is available, I will post it here to share. The discussion included some of the following ideas:

The unevenness of the stakes we all have in this. Discomfort vs. live and death.
The idea of a "pipeline" to help change the institutions we work in to have more diversity, is problematic. White institutions extract labor by black and brown bodies for their own benefit.
BIPOC people are tired.
The unevenness of the labor that must be done between BIPOC and white people.
How you spend your time, your money and how you use your body indicate whether or not you are truly helping create an anti-racist world.

This fight is not a tidy checklist, it is a lifelong commitment to fighting for racial equity, speaker Jabari Peddie (who founded The Teacher Lounge) says, "going to this talk was not enough, do something else this week."