What Black Designers need..

What Black Designers need..

Wow! Did you catch Black Designers Ignite? What an incredible first event. The theme was transitions and it was a powerful, timely event. I’m proud that despite running 4 hours longer than expected, over 600 people tuned in live. These conversations are necessary.

In case you missed it, watch the video below of opening statements by Zariah Cameron and Mitzi Okou, moderated by Annis R. Sands.

BEFORE THE EVENT, ANNIS ASKED OUR SPEAKERS… What do you want the audience to know?

Here are their answers..

Hire Black designers (especially if they may not meet all of the “traditional” requirements). Invest in Black communities & spaces. Challenge who is a designer. Challenge yourself to be better (ie. anti-racism training, sponsor and stand up for Black designers, leave space for Black designers, etc.)

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

“Hire Black designers.
Really see Black people.

Understand that because something or someone is different than what you’re used to experiencing doesn’t mean it is or they are less than.

Invest in black communities but do not overtake them with what your idea of what their community should be. Listen, learn, and let them lead.”

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

See inclusion and collaboration with others as a positive. Recognize that although change is hard it’s necessary- the momentum is with us so lets keep it going!

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

Get out of your comfort zone; be uncomfortable. Have dinner with black people. Attend a predominately black event. Read novels by black writers. Hire and mentor black people.

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

Seek opinions other than your own. Challenge your teams to source at least three candidates of color who are just as qualified for the roles you are hiring for in addition to referring a friend or former colleague.

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

Give an opportunity to a new designer every once in a while. I understand going to where you KNOW the work will be good but throw a new person in the rotation every now and then. You’ll be surprised.

HIRE BLACK DESIGNERS IN GENERAL.
Give back to Creative black youth.
CHILDREN ARE THE FUTURE.

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

If possible, start getting involved with your company’s hiring process to ensure we aren’t just hiring “like-minded” people. Because the products or services that your company creates could potentially help influence positive change in the world, especially in a time when we need these perspectives to be access to the problem at hand. Always push to do research on any design project you are working on to accurately solve the right problem for the corresponding audience’s needs and goals. Introduce yourself to another person on this call, reach out to other designers, and even other people holding perspectives unlike your own, but most importantly, connect with the people here today.

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

Engage with black & diverse designers. Have the hard conversations. Words without actions are empty. Look up to and deliberately create diverse leadership. There exist an abundance of oversights in design that are seemingly obvious to the marginalized (women, POC, those with disabilities, etc.) Let’s change that 🙂

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

Seek empathy. Work towards making a safe environment for black designers. Nurture us and don’t leave us in the dust..

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

Hire black designers. Recognize the power in black art. Invest in art within black communities.

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

Hire black designers, yes, but find one that you feel you can actually CONNECT with. Absolutely do not pick one just because the work is good and you need to meet a quota.

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

Structure you business in a manner that creatives can create; try and eliminate confusion; foster a truly inclusive space.

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

I urge the audience to: better their understanding of the patterns in Black history and presence; redistribute wealth directly to Black folks; challenge what it means for a person to be skilled.

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

I want to see more Black designers in positions of power and having equity in (and outside of) the industry. We need help to give visibility to black talent and educate young BIPOCs about art and design and the impact it can have in the world.

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

Challenge your role as a designer, shift your perspective and expand it. Turn the heat up on yourself.

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

Be personal, not practical. Design with users. Talk to underrepresented groups and designers. Take the time to uncover rare problems – sketching is a super power.

2020 Black Designers Ignite Speaker

What would you tell young black designers in the audience?

Career paths aren’t linear (especially for Black folks) and that’s more than ok, it’s a benefit.

THINK OFTEN, LEARN CONSTANTLY. The answers are not given and much SELF-INITIATED RESEARCH & EXPLORATION is needed to achieve your goals.

Believe your work is good enough to be put into the world instead of shying away from your greatness. Black designers have a story to tell and our voices are worth being heard.

You choose what you believe: so believe in yourself.


1. What is stopping you?
2. Why haven’t you done it yet?
3. Do not be afraid to bet on yourself.


Have CLARITY on the different avenues of design- there is a specific space for your type of design style and esthetic, it just might take some digging and grinding to fine.


What legacy will you create? We (Black people) can create our own spaces, we don’t need permission. We must pour into and uplift our youth.

Thank you to everyone attending and donating tickets. We’re grateful for the response we’ve gotten and look forward to connecting further. Our blog will continue featuring and supporting our inaugural speakers, and the communities and projects they’re part of.

If you missed our 8/27 event the link is live on our homepage. Be sure to catch it while you can. Also, subscribe to our YouTube for upcoming interviews and highlight reels!

Until next time..

Gratefully,
Heatherlee

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