Muted and Listening: How We Can Help


We're a small team here at Wise Design. Three white women working in an industry noted for its lack of diversity. In fact, according to a AIGA 2016 survey of the design industry, 73% of designers in the United States are white. We are privileged and we recognize the systemic racial system in this country that allows us our privilege. (This guide by courtney ahn design is a must read.)


The events of this past week (year/decade/century/hundreds of years) have all of us reflecting and talking to one another about how we can be better, what we can do to help. There are so many fantastic resources that we wanted to share with our readers, while cautioning that we are not experts.


1. The Goal is Anti-Racism. One of the first steps is to realize that racism exists, even with the best intentions. Ibram X. Kendi wrote an extremely helpful post for the New York Times here. “The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an antiracist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” - Ijeoma Oluo.


2. Read. And Then Read More. A few recommendations: White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, How to Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. If you don't have time to read, look for the the audiobooks! Books Are Magic has a great list for adults and for kids.


illustration by Jane Mount


3. Talk/Read to Your Children. The website, Raising Race Conscious Children has interactive webinars, articles and resources to assist with conversations at home as does The Washington Post article, How Silence Can Breed Prejudice: A Child Development Professor Explains How and Why To Talk To Kids About Race. Surrounding early readers with books starring characters of color like Ada Twist Scientist by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts, Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, just to name a few. (For more options, the blog, Cup of Jo has a great list here) A few more children's books we found that deal directly with the issues of race: The Color of Us by Karen Katz, Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester and This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work by Tiffany Jewell.


4. Listen. Learn. There are great podcasts, TED talks and series to listen to and watch! Race Forward has a wonderful series of 8 videos on What Is Systemic Racism? We're long-time fans of This American Life and recommend their podcast episodes, Unteachable Moment, Three Miles and The Problem We All Live With and so many more. NPR's Code Switch. The podcast series, Seeing White. On Netflix: 13th, Dear White People, When They See Us. HBO documentary, Student Athlete. Movies If Beale Street Could Talk, The Hate U Give. Like our book recommendations, this is just the tip of the iceberg.


5. Donate. Here are some great places: NAACP, Black Mamas Matter, Equal Justice Initiative, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the ACLU. Please leave other recommendations in the comments or on our Instagram, if you have them.


6. It's Not About Our Story. To quote Mireille Cassandra Harper, "Whilst it is nice that you can relate and empathize, now is not the time to insert your personal experiences into a narrative that isn’t about you. This is actually harmful and takes away from the severity of the situation. Leave your ego." Pause before you post anything on social media. Reflect to make sure that you are doing the work and amplifying black voices rather contributing to their pain or centering their story around you. Refrain from using the hashtags blacklivesmatter and blackouttuesday. They will flood the Black Lives Matter feed and serve to surpress the important messages and Black voices from the two movements (thanks for the tip @delatierrapdx!).


In solidarity and to amplify black voices, we are pausing our content on social media through June 7th.

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