August Wilson's Radio Golf part 1
Health Policy and design

Diversity Efforts in AIGA

In the AIGA Communique, they announced the establishment of a Diversity Task Force, which kicked off in Atlanta. In the description of the event, the endeavor has already made two of the biggest errors in attracting people of color to any organization. They named the first event "Color Blind" and it seems the "a-ha" moment was when people realized that diversity did not mean quotas and lower design standards. So for AIGA, I'd like to make  two points about avoiding the framing of diversity in ways that will completely sabotage your efforts before they begin.

All people of color hate the framing of diversity efforts as “Color blind.”

The “problem” of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. is never the recognition of difference (i.e. Color) but rather the “meaning” of that difference in a society which overdetermines the social characteristics of certain populations by class, education, morality, and criminality. To pretend in an “utopian” fashion that racial and ethnic differences do not exist (as in blindness) erases the unique and positive histories and cultures of people that also define who they are. Diversity efforts should be framed as removing the individual and institutional barriers that keep people from seeing the diversity of classes, educations levels, moral codes, and criminal behaviors that exists in all groups of people, not about blinding oneself to the differences that do exists and the positive “meanings” attached to those differences. 

The assumption that the inclusion of a diverse group of people means a lowering of standards is one of the greatest fallacies that keep people of color from entering “relatively” low status fields like design.

As an exceptionally gifted AA female who has studied/worked in mostly all-white settings since 4th grade, I especially find it egregious when diversity talk always turns to the fear of quotas and lowered standards. There is an assumption that (1) there are no mediocre Caucasians in the design industry or that (2) the “standards” are “just and fair” to begin with or free of bias. The fact that design is not a high-status occupation among many people of color means that the fear of lower design standards seems even more egregious and counterproductive to having the right framework to attract smart and creative designers-to-be.

So I hope there next outing into the diversity foray would be more sensitive.


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