On Friday, September 18th, we hosted the final session of our three-part virtual discussion surrounding The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein. We continued a similar format from the first and second sessions with three small groups using Zoom rooms to break down our takeaways from The Color of Law and examine how the reading applies to our work and our community — Pittsburgh. The small groups held 30-minute brainstorming discussions while collaborating through a Miro online whiteboard. In the final 15 minutes, we regrouped to discover common themes and explore ideas of where we go from here with our greater understanding from the book.
Similar to the previous two sessions — and regardless of how much we each of us had read of the book (2020 is hard) — we better understand how the local, state, and federal policies and practices throughout the history of Pittsburgh, specifically related to planning and real estate, have had a profound influence on Pittsburgh neighborhoods as they stand today. The Color of Law has layered on a new perspective of how we inhabit the city and our education (or lack thereof) as designers. In each Breakfast Club small group, we explored the themes of connection between The Color of Law and Pittsburgh, short and long term goals from personal to professional, considering “fixes” that are working and not working, and the actions we can take as designers and citizens.
Highlights from our ideation sessions and conversations are noted below.
What tactics/effects discussed in the The Color of Law have you seen in Pittsburgh?
Neighborhoods “destined” to thrive or struggle based on HOLC maps and redlining in the 1930s
Access to services
The disproportionate impact of COVID
Public school and neighborhood segregation
Differential access to health care, hospitals, food security, clean air, public transit
Gentrification (in East Liberty and beyond)
Highway design and destruction of neighborhoods (North Shore / Northside, Hill District)
What goals (of any scale) have you seen or been a part of? (personal or professional)
Uncomfortable conversions with family, friends, and coworkers
Volunteering with NOMA PGH’s Project Pipeline
Reviewing HR policies at office (recruiting, hiring, performance reviews, dress code)
What “fixes” (of any scale) have you seen or been a part of?
Direct / Indirect
Open and frank conversations (like the Breakfast Club chats!)
Being open and uncomfortable (to grow and learn)
Voting for a more diverse representation
Making space for BIPOC voices, participation, and leadership
Confronting racism and microagressions
Awareness / Engagement
Business posting about support / creating awareness
Events to educate on race
Support blacked owned businesses
Book clubs and seminars
Companies providing training
Working / Not Working
Honest, uncomfortable conversations
“Token” BIPOC person on the EDI Committee
Just posting about support and not following up with action
What’s next personally and professionally?
Reading and listening
Volunteering to be a poll worker!
Continually recognizing and checking my privilege
Identifying, speaking out, and standing up to racism and microagressions
Mentorship with diverse organizations
Expanding training and intercultural competence
Volunteer to help disenfranchised communities, specifically with design services
Community outreach collective
Expand EDI conversations outside the “safe space” bubble
With the election upon us (TUESDAY!), a recurring theme in our sessions was that your vote — not only for the presidential candidates, but also for local and state representatives — is so critical to identifying insidious, unjust policies and working towards a more equitable future. Let your voice be heard! And regardless of the outcome, the W+iD Breakfast Club will be here to talk, get uncomfortable, and provide a safe space to grow, learn, listen, and strategize how best to take action.
Jo Berchielli, Katie Walsh, + Monica Blasko