“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prodding with a purpose.”
- Zora Neale Hurston
Interviews with 67 professionals and students were collected across various multicultural identities, centering voices within the Black and African Diaspora. Various roles and titles were represented in the data spanning across the technology and design industries. The questions asked were aimed at understanding equity in the practical context of professional experiences
Over a number of academic journals, popular media articles, current events, videos, podcasts, and lectures were shared across the team throughout the discovery process. Voices across already published sources were not only an inspiration for the teams’ designs but also opened their eyes to the experiences that were not their own. It also taught the team the value of sharing joy.
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Equity is everyone contributes to the playlist
-Dr. Robert Sellers
Diversity is getting invited to the party
- Verna Myers
Inclusion is being asked
- Verna Myers
Why is design inequitable?
Speed is one of the facts that we're trying to build things quickly is really bad, but like things that help us build slower and having the tool, we have the money to like ensure that we do harm reduction right, like building products and we're like thinking about all the things that could go wrong.
— Interview 39
There are a plethora of design tools and frameworks that exist centered around equity, why don’t designers know about them? Based on the team’s interviews analyzed with inductive and deductive coding, time was identified as key barrier to making design processes inequitable.
Designers just don’t have the time to finish the race…
The future right now we're still dealing with the remnants of the past that have not been addressed. So the future is, in my mind, is getting to a place where this is understood and has been dealt with properly, as a country as a society.
— Interview 07
Equity as Forethought
The way design unfolds does not necessarily need to change, but the way we approach and frame the process does need to change.
While there is no shortage of social, political, and economic theories revolving around the roots of inequity, there are few as controversial as Critical Race Theory (CRT). Created within the space of jurisprudence or theory of law, CRT provides a foundation in the current context of dismantling racist and oppressive systems across many fields, including design.
Through the teams secondary research, it became clear that CRT was the foundation for many of the equitable design processes and frameworks that already existed.
Based on this finding, the team began shaping their own intentional re-framing of the design process.
Tenets of Critical Race Theory
Racism is ordinary, not aberrational - to discuss racism its hidden ubiquity must be exposed and acknowledged.
Those with power rarely concede it without interest convergence - unless it benefits those in power racist actions are rarely dismantled.
Race and racism are socially constructed - racial categories are fluid and used to differentiate and divide groups artificially..
Liberalism itself can hinder anti-racist progress - colorblindness impedes goals.
Identity is intersectional - intersecting identities create unique contexts.
There is a uniqueness to the voice of color and storytelling is a means for it to be heard - counter stories challenge and displace dominant narratives.