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  • Writer's pictureWomen+ in Design PGH

Antiracism Conversations Recap

We had such an incredible round of conversations last week. Many thanks to those who were able to join us, to lend your voices, your passion, and your willingness to learn. Each of the seven groups took a different angle on exploring the recent social awakening around institutional inequities and how to ourselves embrace becoming antiracists.

Weaving throughout the diversity of subject matter were several overarching themes which we have encapsulated below. Please add your thoughts in the comments below so we can continue the conversation.

We heard you when you said you want to see more from Women+ in Design PGH in

leading on this topic. We are continuing to figure out how to meaningfully develop programming, events, and resources to ensure the sustainability of our excavation into being authentic allies to people of color in the realm of design and in our communities. Please stay tuned and stay engaged with us.

Conversation Themes

Design as Advocacy

Though many groups only touched on this briefly, there was a strong interest in how we as designers can be advocates in our workplaces, through our work, and in our communities.

  • Looking for resources and support to bring these conversations into our workplaces and our work

  • How anti-racist work reshapes design business vision

Personal Awakening, Reflection, & Education

Our individual awakenings to this moment were the strongest theme in throughout these discussions. We are all on our own personal journeys and coming together to talk about them was important and valuable to many.

  • Interesting to see one’s role as the oppressed (being a woman) change into that of the oppressor (being a white woman)

  • Conscious of always being the minority representative in one’s office (either in gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation or other aspect of non-dominant culture)

  • Wanting to encourage engagement without being overwhelmed; activism burnout

  • Understanding that being silent is not acceptable; these are our issues to address

  • Interest in “continuous education” on this topic

  • Embracing the word “antiracist”

  • This is a process of both learning and unlearning

  • Importance of not taking a defensive stance

Authentic Allyship & Action

The next step beyond the personal awakening is the call to action. We just barely scratched the surface of how to be good allies, what learning new vocabulary in this space means, and ensuring our efforts are genuine and not performative. Much more on this coming soon.

  • Being a good ally equated to learning a new language (or the social language of the LGBTQ+ civil rights activism)

  • New points of reference -- the Social Justice Ladder

    • Determining where you are on the ladder (self-awareness)

    • Understanding where others are on the ladder (relational awareness)

    • “Challenge of moving farther up the ladder since those experiences are farther removed from my lived experience, my whiteness.”

  • It’s ok not to be perfect; we are likely all going to say things that are not right, the important thing is to acknowledge and keep conversing

  • How do we present that we are allies? Difference between performance and genuine allyship

  • Recognition of “policies that are in control of the moment”

  • Acknowledgment of economic realities

    • Non-profit organizations being vocal on issues of race since their workforce is predominantly minority; words and actions don’t always line up

    • “How helpful is a statement if you can’t support your family?”

Expanding the Conversation

Many people wondered: how do we expand our influence for these conversations? We need to start with ourselves first, but will look for meaningful opportunities to bring others in to the conversation and to bring our talents and passion into our communities.

  • Strong interest in being in community around these actions to make a larger impact

  • We have such a valuable and powerful platform as Women+ in Design PGH -- how can we best use it?

  • How do we incorporate male allies and our professional organizations?

  • Understanding our own spheres of influence and how we can influence others

Let us know what resonated for you in these conversations, and if you weren't able to join us, fill us in on how you've been finding your authentic allyship in recent weeks. Stay tuned for more resources and conversation details soon!

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