On this significant day of Juneteenth, we wish to both empower our community and look inwards.
We feel like shit. We are enraged, horrified, heartbroken by George Floyd’s murder. We are overcome with the need to do something, and yet overwhelmed by the vast, vast number of suggested actions we can take, personally and as a company, as designers and as human beings, and by the long history pervasiveness of racism. We are ashamed of ourselves personally, for not knowing more, and for not having done more before now to keep us from getting to this point as a society. And at the same time, we are confounded by what is clear: it is not about us, or how we feel, or DesignMap, or design (or Design, for that matter). And yet it is about us. All about us. it is only and specifically our attitudes, our actions and our behaviors that will make anything different tomorrow.
So, maybe it’s good that we feel miserable, as Rebecca Carroll suggests in her article for The Atlantic. We can act because it’s the right thing to do, without any expectation that we’ll feel more comfortable after we act than before we act — to avoid “feelings advocacy”, as Ibram X Kendi points out in his TED conversation.
So we are doing some things, out loud, to hold ourselves accountable, to support others, and because it’s the right thing to do. It's essential to show up in allyship with the Black Community not only right now, but consistently. Allyship is a verb.
First, Do What We Do Best
The challenge of systemic, institutionalized racism is complex. We all want to help. Feeling overwhelmed can lead to feeling paralyzed. We all need to take action now. But how? What can we do based on our circumstance? What will matter? Should we act on an individual level, a company level, or…?
So, being DesignMap, as we became more and more overwhelmed, by reflex some of us got out our pencils and tried to make sense all the actions we might take. We ended up creating this model, to try to break through the paralysis. This framework attempts to think through alternatives and help us think about where to start — to at least take the mountain of recommended actions and break it into four hills… to get momentum going, to taking the first step and continued steps.
This two-by-two clears things up, but it helps to add a third dimension, time:
This has certainly helped us sort out the opportunities to contribute into meaningful buckets. As for what goes into the buckets, we are not the experts on what to do. There are a thousand lists of action items. To name a few:
- Inneract Project - Empowering the Next Generation of Black and Brown Designers
- Black Tech for Black Lives
- Dear White People, This is What We Want You To Do, by Kandase Le Blanc
- Ways You Can Help
- NAACP We Are Done Dying Campaign
- Anti-Racism Resources, compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein
We are all able to do things in our own ways, and we each must decide what to do as an individual... what will make the biggest impact based on what power and privilege we have. We all have a role to play in a movement, but there’s no one answer to solve a problem as complex as this.
We hope that this model helps others, as it has helped us, choose actions today, and imagine a series of actions that continue the momentum in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Second, Do More as a Company
In addition to what we do as individuals then, we believe that DesignMap has an obligation to act as a company to improve people’s lives.
We commit to stand up for what is right and work towards equity and inclusion. DesignMap commits to:
- Work with recruiters, schools, and mentorship programs to actively diversify the talent pipeline for ourselves and other companies through our work with Inneract Project, First Graduate, and others. (External / Company and Ongoing)
- Actively recruit members of undervalued communities to participate in any research we do on behalf of ourselves or our clients. (Internal / Company and Ongoing)
- Make donations of time and money to support undervalued communities a regular part of our company practice and culture, including Black Lives Matter, Marshall Project, Inneract Project and ACLU. (External / Company Now and Ongoing)
- Educate ourselves and amplify others to contribute all we can to the groundswell of anti-racism. (Internal / Individual and External / Individual and Ongoing)
- Diversify our client base by actively pursuing BIPOC owned Venture Capital firms and product companies that serve minority and underserved communities
Third, Keep Doing It
We sought to make commitments that were ongoing. We know that we’ve been here before—Black Lives Matter started seven years ago. Slavery in this country started over four hundred years ago. In light of that, this simply must not be a one-off thing. We must contribute to ongoing, systemic change.
To that end, we are making Juneteenth a paid holiday at DesignMap, and it will remain so for as long as DesignMap remains extant. We encourage our employees to use the day to reflect, celebrate, and act towards the greater good.
As Partners, we will review our progress and our pledge every year on Juneteenth, and again every six months, to reflect on and renew our commitment.
We know we don’t have all the answers, or even all the right questions, but we can promise that we will continue to learn, grow, and advocate for what’s right.
We stand with the Black community against racism, hate, and violence. #blacklivesmatter
Audrey, Nathan, Greg, Chuck, and the rest of DesignMap