When recent racist events happen – like the tragedies of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd happen – I don’t know how to write about them. Sitting safely in my bubble, I’m horrified and ashamed. I turn away from the videos, unable to watch – the truest evidence of my privilege – and can only imagine the deep psychological impression that these videos must have on the Black Americans who have seen them. And yet these videos amplify the evidence and justifiably enrage a country, including myself. It’s a sad fact that it takes these types of videos to mobilize such a large response.
I started writing this on Wednesday, but was having a hard time “finding the right words/tone” that didn’t feel like pure virtue signaling or entirely defeated. Our Friday design post got pushed due to client’s approval process, so we scheduled a post already written about “Brian’s Happy Escapism Music,” a post aimed at highlighting upbeat music to help lift a little bit of the quarantine blues. So yesterday morning it went up per usual at 1am. I woke up at 6am, and realized my idiotic mistake, scrambled for my laptop and hit “un-publish” but not before I read the comments where I (rightfully) got called out. The fact that that post went up in the first place did nothing except highlight to me my true privilege – the ability to escape.
One thing I can do is look at myself, ask myself hard questions, and reflect on what I’m doing or not doing that is contributing to racism. Human beings, White human beings especially, can be so cruel. We’ve really f*cked this. Shame on us. To let fear, faux masculinity, posturing, poor modeling, bad education, violence and latent or overt racism ruin your brain enough to kill a man simply by not removing your knee? I’m feeling like we have a pretty terrible government in general if “protection” is their main function. What a fail, on so many fronts.
The powers that be, such as our government, aren’t doing enough – likely because they too are privileged, old, and White to feel an imminent threat to themselves. It’s just like how a lot of politicians don’t really care about public education – They have no vested interest in the success of the education system because their children (or grandchildren) don’t attend public schools. They lack the motivation, the true drive, to make it their cause. Similarly, White politicians (and White Americans as a whole) have rarely taken it upon themselves to take actions that would truly lead to dismantling racism in America. In case I haven’t made it clear, I am not exempt from this.
I am not a cop or politician. I am an enraged, disgusted, and full of shame citizen. I don’t know how to write about macrame or soup today. I don’t feel like it at all. But I do have a platform, and a responsibility to use that platform to amplify causes like anti-racism.
Ijeoma Oluo writes “Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” Cup of Jo wrote a great article about this on Thursday that I found so helpful, filled with a lot of great resources.
In an effort to take steps forward in this moment, my team and I pulled together a few simple ways to take action today (and we’re always open to adding more if you have suggestions to add in the comments):
- Use your technology – Sign the petition at www.justiceforbigfloyd.com
- Use your voice – Call 612-324-4499 and demand that the county attorney Michael Freeman hold ALL four police officers accountable for the death of George Floyd – update, he’s charged with murder which shows progress in the perception of these cases, but there is still more action needed.
- If you’re able, use your financial privilege – Donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund: www.minnesotafreedomfund.org/donate.
We’re not experts on anti-racism, but we wanted more so we pulled together a few other ideas from some internet research and social media accounts we follow –
1.) Read about Black history and read literature by Black authors. Do it often. Become educated so when you do talk to others about the racism in our society and government, you are armed with facts and data to support your arguments about institutionalized racism in America. Here’s a great list to start with.
2.) Look around and see what changes you can make in your own industry to be more inclusive. The interior design world, for example, is a heavily White-dominated industry. We are going to be doing more work to actively support, amplify, and bring attention to Black designers and makers, and will be making a concerted effort to bring different and diverse voices and experiences to this blog.
3.) Listen to Black people and their experiences. Don’t rely on your Black friends or family to answer your questions about race (unless they openly share with you, or have expressed their willingness to be a resource for you). Instead, use social media and the internet to seek our articles, videos, and podcasts produced by Black artists, activists, and journalists who have already done the emotional labor of sharing their experiences. This is great Instagram account to start with, and the podcast 1619 by The New York Times was an incredible listen.
4.) Use your financial privilege, if you’re able, to seek out and buy from Black-owned businesses. Tomorrow we’re going to share a few that we know of, but would always love to hear of more that we can help bring attention to.
5.) Use your vote to help put Black people and other POC in higher positions of power and demand reparations from your local, state, and national governments.
If you want one resource to start with, this book, How To Be Antiracist by author Ibram X Kendi, was recommended to us via an Instagram comment this morning.
Edit: Originally in this morning’s post we had suggested White Fragility. I’ve listened to author Robin Diangelo on a couple of podcasts, but need to read the book. However, it was brought to our attention via Instagram that we should be recommending a book written by a Black author. In recognition of our blind spot here, we’ve amended this post to instead recommend How To Be Antiracist. Thank you to everyone who continues to use their energy in order to share their perspectives with us xx
Here are some other great ideas that we love:
I can’t do anything to bring back the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, or George Floyd or any of the MANY OTHERS, but if I truly have any sort of voice or influence, then being ANTI-racist is what I want to share on my platforms. Admitting privilege, and feeling disturbed and enraged isn’t enough. It’s long past time for me, and all of us who haven’t yet joined this fight, to be actively anti-racist. Let’s do more. Black Lives Matter.
If you have other ideas or ways to contribute, help, causes to donate to, honestly any good suggestions to do or not do, please leave them in the comments. Even if it’s a good inspiring quote. We’d love to read and I know we aren’t the only ones. xx
**P.S. My team is pulling together posts highlighting black American run small businesses in the design/lifestyle/fashion world. If you have any you would like to recommend, please do so in the comments.
Kia Weatherspoon: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kiaweatherspoon and http://www.kiaweatherspoon.com/new-page-1
Wilma Newhoudt:https://www.gallaudet.edu/board-of-trustees/wilma-newhoudt-druchen : Note: she is not a designer.
Thank you for sharing links to Kia and Wilma with us! Very much appreciated.
I am so moved and inspired by this blog post. It reminds us that we can do more especially those of us with privilege.
This is a very eye opening excerpt about White Privilege written by Peggy McIntosh, Senior Research Scientist of the Wellesley Centers for Women. I knew I “enjoyed” white privilege, but thought of myself as a non-racist person. After reading this, I have a LOT of thinking and learning yet to do. Thank you for the resources.
It’s hard to differentiate between the protesters and criminals when both are hiding behind the Black Lives Matter movement.
Thank you for speaking out, listing ways to help now, and ways to learn more.
I just want to add a clarification that Ahmaud’s name is spelled Ahmaud Arbery. Thank you for sharing these resources and I’m looking forward to more on this from your team.
Hi Sarah, we are very sorry you had to bring this to attention for us, but we have corrected Ahmaud’s name xx
Great post. VOTE!
Thank you Emily. Each day it becomes more difficult to be a proud American. Then I look around the world and realize that many other countries are also consumed with hate and distrust, much of it fueled by inadequate education and a lack of appreciation of those different from ourselves. I’m sorry that Brian’s playlist was taken down, it was fun, a bit silly, and joyful. Outrage and joy have a place in our lives and one should not totally misplace the other.
Yes, joy most definitely has a place in all our lives, but at this moment in time, where so many are experiencing such pain, it was an insesitive move, and highlight the privilege of being able to block out the huge problems Black people and POC face with a ‘fun playlist’. Thank you Emily for realizing this and taking it down.
It was perceived as insensitive but if you read Ms Henderson’s post you see that it was pre-scheduled and inadvertent, and she scrambled to take it down.
Yes, I read that. That is why I thanked Emily for taking it down. My comment was not directed at Emily, but at Maxine, who thought it was a good time for a way to escape. That is a part of the problem. Not wanting to deal with the issues at hand.
Who is “Our” in your headline and “us” in your post. I appreciate you trying to do this but you are actively “othering” black and poc in this post. Please do the work before you post something to virtue signal.
Thanks, Alice. It was ‘my’ but all the resources/research were from my team so it changed to Our (I didn’t know it was changed), but I think you are right and its back to ‘my’. thanks for commenting – i appreciate the notes and just furthers self reflection.
Perhaps you also could be a bit more generous and assume good intentions on Emily’s part rather than assuming it was about virtue signaling … or is it your goal to police and potentially silence allies with a large platform from which to speak.
Umm, good intentions are not enough if she wants to write about being/becoming anti-racist. I am not trying to silence allies. She’s not an ally if she hasn’t done the basic work. So, while I appreciate her trying to be an ally, she’s not there yet. For example, she could talk about how she’s trying to diversify her OWN team instead of talking about ‘interior designers’ in general. She can avoid discussing things like police and politicians when she clearly isn’t willing to call them out or say it’s a few bad apples (she has since edited the post to remove some of the problematic language she had in the original post), she can stop talking about how she feels and say she’s going to reach out a helping hand to Black people she knows to ensure they are getting the support they need. Those are just a few examples that would show me she’s not virtue signalling. I appreciate her putting herself out there to this type of criticism but this post is really problematic and a great example of virtue signalling. And perhaps can be used as an example for others. If she’s willing to do that then… Read more »
Yes! Thank you for speaking out. But where is the response from Emily or her team?
thankyou Alice, I understand and support where you are coming from.I believe that is important for all to be aware of, and clearly Emily is open to learning.
Well it could have been worse. She could have been a racist or not address the issues at all. It’s very difficult to converse with someone who doesn’t appreciate when people try hard. What would be a perfect response, Alice? I think that being sympathetic is a good start if not a good practice in general. I have been on a receiving end of ethnic- based and gender-based discrimination as well. Do you at least care? What do you do for millions of immigrants who are discriminated in job interviews and other venues just because they have an accent? There’s a lot of research on this too. I for one believe that good solutions aren’t necessary race focused. If everyone was treated fairly based on their merit, and not other factors the world would be a much better place for all of us.
Alice and Dani, thank so much for taking time and energy to respond on our post. Before we published this post we knew it wasn’t going to perfect. But we felt it was still important to share, as we know a large portion (likely a majority) of our readers, like ourselves, are white women. That being said, we can’t post and talk about these topics without being ready and open to receive criticism. Your comments about virtue signaling and diversity within our own team are no doubt uncomfortable for us to read, but necessary. We (the EHD team) are passionate about self-educating using existing resources to interrogate our blind spots individually, and as a team. But we also know that our actions moving forward will speak louder than our words here. We will continue to receive any and all comments and feedback that anyone is willing to leave us, but we understand that it takes emotional and educational labor on our readers part to do so. Relying on these types of feedback as our only source of education is NOT enough.
“We also know that our actions moving forward will speak louder than our words here.” So true. This makes me more hopeful than doubtful that we will see changes in how you continue to address this. It will not be comfortable for you or Emily or the business. But it is absolutely 100% beyond the point of being crucial and necessary. Keep learning. Keep working.
I agree. on it. and know that i’ve learned more about myself in the last two days that in years and years and years. It’s been so educational, self reflective, and frankly embarrassing. But I see a lot of mistakes now, or lack of proaction. So much lack of proaction on my part.
I just found a tear running down my cheek from your reply. I really can see a shift in your writing from a few years ago when people commented on a wish to see more diversity in your team.
I am standing with and for you as we watch you grow. I believe you mean what you say. xx
First, appreciation to the EHD team for not reacting defensively and realizing constructive feedback is part of the work. For those saying I am policing or making it uncomfortable for white people to speak out, I challenge you to deeply think about what I wrote and what you perceived. I pointed out directly that Emily was virtue signaling. I didn’t say “you’re a mean person” or otherwise personally attack her. I told her that if she wants to talk about anti-racism she needs to really look at her own actions and not write a superficial personal essay about anti-racism when she clearly had not done deep personal thinking or ownership over her own actions. If you are uncomfortable with my directness and lack of “niceness” you are not going to be able to be anti-racist. I am a non-Black POC and am on my own anti-racist journey and the first time I was called out on my own superficial allyship, it stung. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable. But after a few days I realized that was part of the WORK I needed to do to help dismantle white supremacy culture – the culture I was raised in as a PoC.… Read more »
Hey Alice, i responded above but want to make sure you see it. I actually took no offense. I tried to talk about my shame in the post, shame about not being a better ally, but i don’t think it was until today that I realized I really wasn’t. here is what i wrote above, but again thanks for your conversation. “I think you are right, Alice. I think I am/was virtue signalling. Sure, I have self-awareness and can write about that, but by not doing enough work I haven’t been the ally that I want to be. I’d like to become a better ally and I’m willing to do the work. Thanks for taking the time to comment and respond. I hope the conversation isn’t over. xx”
You’ve got to at least commend Emily and her team for bravely responding to such a sensitive issue. One might argue that as a white interior designer she has no responsibility or even a place to do so. Her intentions are good. If I were in her shoes, I would have been afraid to respond, knowing it’s impossible to get it right. We may see many well designed spaces on this blog and think “wow, they nailed it!” This is not so simple.
>>”One might argue that as a white interior designer she has no responsibility or even a place to do so”
EVERYONE has the responsibility to do so. Part of the reason why we remain in this cycle is people thinking it’s not their responsibility.
>>”If I were in her shoes, I would have been afraid to respond, knowing it’s impossible to get it right.”
White people need to be okay, no, COMFORTABLE and PREPARED, to be called out; to be ready to not get it right. It’s the meager price you pay for failing to getting it right all along and after so many chances. This is your work to do.
I’ll say it again: This is YOUR work to do.
There is an opportunity here. Let’s use it to educate not condemn. Change can be incremental and still count as progress.
I hear you, but some of us white people are awkwardly trying to do the right thing by speaking up and speaking out, and we don’t know what we’re doing, but we want to try. Would you rather we just continue to keep silent?
Hi, I am also white. I would like to suggest that maybe you don’t hear them. Black people and people of color are BEGGING us to do the work. Please don’t respond with defensiveness. Please just listen and think about it on your own time. When you say things like “Would you rather we just continue to keep silent?” I think you know the answer to your own question. Obviously no. When people put themselves out there and ask us white people to be better, and to help actively protect them and change the fabric of society, please put them ahead of your own feelings of defensiveness. Can you imagine how painful that response of defensiveness would be, after you put yourself out there to ask someone to be better, and help in a more constructive way?
No, what white people should do is graciously take the criticism and learn from it. I think we can certainly do that. Every time Emily has a post about anything regarding race there are replies from white women in the comments defending her against every legitimate criticism. She doesn’t need that, and the knee jerk defensiveness needs to stop.
No defensiveness here. I’m listening learning and agree with most of the criticism. I appreciate it all, I promise (as do all of my friends who are reading all the of the comments and texting me how much they are learning). xx
Yes please continue to speak up!! As you said yourself, “we dont know what we are doing” so naturally mistakes are to be expected. If called on those mistakes then try to see that as a kearning opportunity and please keep trying. This isnt easy work but the alternative of not doing the work is far worse. Thank you for having the courage!
I completely understand this feeling, but I know if I am to become a better ally I have to embrace criticism and put in the work proactively. Don’t become silent, but also recognize that there’s work to be done before we can contribute in meaningful ways. In the early stages, that means self-education. Black people have created so many amazing, easy-to-find resources for this. Beyond the book Emily recommended (How to Be an Anti-Racist), I recommend checking out authors like Saidiya Hartman, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Angela Davis, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison. I also highly recommend the podcast “Seeing White.” Hope those resources help!
Cut her some slack, folks. Please find me other design blogs where real issues are being discussed.
Thank you. That was actually how I found this blog, looking for one that’s NOT about this.
Not about “this”? Care to elaborate what “this” is?
Please know, the ability to ignore racism is a position of privilege. The fact that you SOUGHT OUT a space that would allow you to not confront things in yourself that are your responsibility to confront is so, so troubling.
Oh poor little you, must be hard seeing another blog about “this” that you were trying to get away from that so many people live through everyday.. This is the epitome of privilege.
I think you are right, Alice. I think I am/was virtue signalling. Sure, I have self-awareness and can write about that, but by not doing enough work I haven’t been the ally that I want to be. I’d like to become a better ally and I’m willing to do the work. Thanks for taking the time to comment and respond. I hope the conversation isn’t over. xx
White people always get the good intentions and benefit of the doubt. That is the whole point of racism and privilege especially in the context of police violence
“I do have a platform, and a responsibility to use that platform to amplify causes like anti-racism.” Go, Emily! Yes! This is what being an influencer is really, really about. It’s about changing the world for the better, one obvious action at a time. I am incredibly grateful for your voice on this issue and so glad you saw through the ‘happy music’ post and named it (I couldn’t even open it). That took courage, but more so, it takes a loving, kind human being to take a look at themselves and see, really see, how the world is and their place in it. Just as the saying goes about the butterfly’s wings in the Amazon affecting the world … so it is that through your honesty, your bravery, you have lit a light to shine on this, massive, issue. In our house, we rarely discuss racism. My partner immigrated from South Africa in the days of apartheid, when you couldn’t bring your money with you. He came with nothing, because he had “to get out … it was so wrong …” He’s white, the minority white so-called “English” which was thetag for any mix of non-black/POC people who were… Read more »
thank you Rusty. thank you for sharing your stories. xx
thank you for pointing this out about Australia. I’m from the US and I see the same thing there that happened to the Native Americans here. It’s heart wrenching and sickening. But I never hear anyone talk about it.
Thank you for speaking out. Personally I am actively deleting ‘influencers’ in my feeds who I feel like are not using their platform to address this and to publicly and visibly committing to being anti-racist. I am glad I get to keep your voice.
I know that seems like a small petty action – and NOT ENOUGH. but I know influencers make money on viewership – and it is also a way I can change and shape my personal world view (i.e not normalize this by following people pretending this isn’t happening).
So as I diversify my feed (something I have been trying to do for awhile) I am also culling those who are silent right now and who subconsciously socially ‘influence’ me to be silent on this. And to be honest – the silence in the home/design/architecture world (after they glowingly posted tributes to memorial day a week ago) is VERY telling.
+1 to all of this. I need to see the designers/influencers/brands/companies I give my eyeballs and money to speaking out against racism and ACTIVELY demonstrating anti-racism, otherwise I’m done.
Can you share with me influencers that voicing their thoughts about this? Would love to read them. Thanks!
Studio Mcgee, ‘Chris and Julia’ are two of the big ones who addressed it recently on their instagrams – I don’t mean to single out people as if they are doing it ‘right’ because a meme won’t fix this.
But I am NOTICING and deleting influencers who are posting pictures of wine and saying ‘happy friday!’ , or ‘have a wonderful weekend’ and nothing else.
I am curious if Studio Mcgee and CLJ will do anymore than put up the most cursory of IG stories though. Honestly it was the barest mininum they could have done.
I agree, it is a low bar to just acknowledge what is happening. However the list is way longer for those who haven’t mentioned it at all (or did an instagram post about the demonstrations and nothing else) – I have unfollowed over 300 people in the Design/decor world in the last two days and my list is growing. The amazing amount of ‘have a great weekend!’ posts that people & brands are STILL putting up – is pretty shocking.
I see Lauren Leiss hasn’t posted anything. Do you know if she put anything in stories?
She didn’t and she posted recently. I unfollowed her.
She posted a super vague defense of posting prettiness and then let the comments turn into a disastrous screaming contest of people calling her out and defending her.
Wit and Delight is doing a GREAT and seemingly-genuine job, including posting in stories that she had postponed as much sponsored content as possible and explaining that those posts that do go up are the minimum to keep paying her team.
I’ve been unfollowing like crazy, too. It’s extremely helpful, actually, to get a confirmation of the values of those we are supporting with our viewership. Shift your time/eyeballs from those silent white ladies to BIPOC creators! If you aren’t following Shavonda Gardner and Carmeon Hamilton (to name two of my favorites), you’re really missing out. Shavonda’s stories are some of the best out there AND she sets a great example for setting and holding boundaries in the space she’s created. (Don’t jump into her DMs without a friendly and polite greeting, for example.)
Lauren Liess’ posts were super problematic tbh. I know that she is a Republican but her response to people calling her out just proved the point about white fragility. I have unfollowed her.
In comparison, Emily’s response has been more measured and shows a genuine desire to actually do the work, which I truly appreciate.
I actually am the one she initially yelled at during her ‘in defense of pretty pictures’ I felt awkward discussing unfollowing her here and not cluing her in on her own page. I perhaps could have led with a lighter statement than “silence is violence” but I have been posting and fighting in DM’s with so many influencers I think I just lost my ability to be meek about it for a moment. She did not appreciate it and I believe the post about loving enemies like Jesus was directed at me as she posted a reply about how she loved me directly after posting that post. I really really hope she is listening to Black voices – and it cuts through her White Fragility, she didn’t block me which like Susanna Salk did, or dirty delete a post like Robert Norris or fail to apologize like apartment34 or call me a bully in her instagram stories like another influencer, or ignore me like Garden Answer & Leanne Ford… there were more disappointments – but on the plus side they have all been replaced by a lot of new talented accounts that I did not know existed. And there have… Read more »
THIS is why CoJ and Emily arestand outs and deserve to be supported.
WE choose who we support.
WE ALL CAN WALK OUR TALK, in our own way.
Cup of Jo
YES YES YES to all of this. I “judge” influencers the same way. Which is exactly why I continue to follow Emily ( i mean, of course in addition to all of her good content).
Just being a devil’s advocate here. Why isn’t it okay for everyone to deal with this how they know best? Not everyone is so outward every time, about everything. Some people might be doing a lot privately maybe not about this issue but about many other issues. Other people have many worries in their lives currently. They might grief a lot on their own. They might be depressed or anxious. Why is it okay to judge everyone about everything, without actually having an understanding of what circumstances they are going through. Some are silent because they are simply overwhelmed by other worries. You may need 5 minutes to make a public post on it. Another person might be on it for 5 hours and still too anxious to post something because they overthink and want to say the right thing but don’t know how
I am not unfollowing people I know personally – I am unfollowing people who post and use the platform professionally. You don’t need to write an essay to just say – ‘this is wrong’, and if you are upset – then you don’t need to post a ‘business as usual- have a great weekend!’ post. I am not judging individuals who are not posting – I am judging people who use their platforms every day and are currently using them to ignore what is happening.
Hi Melkorka. Thank you for taking the time to bring this up! The social media world is an interesting place, especially since it’s a place for businesses to grow and make money but it’s ALSO a place where people can virtually connect and form powerful movements. I think some businesses recognize that there’s room for both (which I think is the right move), while others want their platform to be strictly business (which I agree makes those brands’ content feel unsettling at a time like this). I also think a lot of brands are newly trying to navigate both “business content as usual” and any political content which can be tricky and anxiety-inducing so I personally respect all brands that are taking a stand, even if it’s just a few instagram stories (hopefully their stories are ones with a call to action). I think all brands and influencers need to at least acknowledge what’s happening and show how we can collectively take action
yes. acknowledgement at the least is key.
Yes! As a bare minimum. Saying nothing is being part of the problem. Hiding isn’t acknowledging the insidious problem.
Mallory Wackerman–are you going to continue to reply to other comments and conveniently ignore this one? You made a mistake and continue to refuse to take accountability for it. Did you not notify the rest of the EHD team? That’s professionally irresponsible and I’d hope for better from a team that’s “committed to doing better.” Also, yes, you post-edited the link up but did not add an editor’s note about the revision. You’re conveniently erasing your mistake instead of acknowledging WHY you needed to edit it in the first place. Have some integrity.
Emily and team–please acknowledge and respond WHY you haven’t addressed the concerned and continuous requests for a more diverse and nuanced POV over the years. You can’t begin to do better without recognizing past mistakes.
So well said. Thank you.
Influencers have a duty to speak out. Itcomes with the territory.
Like, you wanna be followed?!? Then be a leader, as Emily is demonstrating.
Good idea. I’m on board. Deleting the ‘nice’ people who are being quiet about the necessary noise. The important noise.
Oh. so you think all social media influencers should use their platform to write about what you want? Cause that’s what you’re saying. There are all sorts of much more important, disastrous, wonderful, hateful things happening in the world but you want THIS particular issue addressed. If they don’t, they’re wrong. That’s absurd.
Yes. They need to address it. They need to acknowledge it RIGHT NOW. This isn’t some political stance, it isn’t an opinion. An innocent man was murdered and his murderers have not all been charged. It is a hateful legacy that we don’t have consequences for white people harming and murdering black people in this country. And in this moment it is important to stand up and use your voice and a social media platform is these ‘Influencers’ public voice. No excuses. Social pressure is power, there is power in noise – the black community needs us white people to do more always (and do the work) but they need us to YELL right now.
Yes to this! I’m also calling out brands that use all white models. Again, as small thing, but it matters to me. I am FREAKING TIRED of design blogs featuring all (or overwhelmingly) white writers, brands, etc.
Be sure to check in on family and friends who are POC during this difficult time (ask how they are doing and let them know you are here for them, don’t rehash traumatic events). Don’t rely on them to be resources on what you are doing wrong or what you can be doing more of (that is the responsibility of someone who holds privilege to determine themselves). What we all need are real relationships with people who are different from us, whatever that different may be.
Thank you for this. I could not agree more xx
I’d just to add two things. A lot of streaming services and things like Instagram use powerful algorithms that track your choices and recommend new stuff based on them. So if you’re white you’re’ almost definitely being recommended mostly, if not exclusively white content. But it’s really easy to hack this, and have the algorithm adapt to make more varied suggestions. On Instagram try and find Instagrammers who are not white. You don’t even have to change the types of accounts you follow – I pretty much exclusively follow design accounts and can recommend designaddictmom, iamkristabel, malcolmsimmons, and aphrochic for starters. Also look for and pass along recommendations of other POC on these platforms. And on Netflix etc just search for a show or film you know to have a predominantly black cast – it doesn’t have to be “heavy” or “educational”, you can search for Blackish or Black Panther, add them to your favourites and the algorithm will then suggest more. This is also incredibly important because it tells the content creators that white people have no problem watching POC in films and TV programmes, and that will in turn make projects by POC more likely to get commissioned,… Read more »
This is such good information to understand and keep in mind. Thank you for sharing!
Are people talking to their kids? I’m raising a family with multiple skin tones, my brown children don’t have the privilege of not learning about racism at a very early age… my white children can and should learn to bear their burden by learning to be allies and anti racists alongside them. I suggest the children’s book A Kids Boom About Racism by Jelani Memory for ages 5-9 to get you started if it feels daunting. Also, the book the parenting book Rasing White Kids.
Thank you Michelle for these book recommendations. Change has to start at home and with teaching kids what is right and wrong<3
In addition to that book Criselle Lim (a more fashion based platform) shared this website about other kids books about racism:
Thank you so much!
For picture book readers, “Something Happened in Our Town” is explicitly about these types of tragedies. And for tweens, additional resources include “Stamped” (remix of “Stamped From The Beginning” for younger readers) and “This Book Is Antiracist.”
I would argue that while inappropriate police action against black americans specifically is in the news today, all POC suffer at the hands of the cops – it would do to generally take action for everyone who is a “minority” and be aware that skin color determines privilege in this country.
As a non Black POC (I’m of Pakistani descent), I would wholeheartedly disagree with this. Personally I’ve never had a bad experience with police officers, but even those who have had bad experiences, it pales in comparison to what Black people endure at the hands of police and the two experiences can’t be compared. The relationship non black POC have with authority was designed to be different. When the immigration act in this country was amended in the 1960s, it allowed highly educated and skilled Asians to come to this country and specifically created the “model minority” myth that essentially pitted minorities against Black communities. Giving non Black minorities access to certain elements of white privilege allowed them to turn to Black communities and say “You just need to work harder!” while ignoring the fact that institutions in this country were built to specifically discriminate against Black communities and deny them resources, a point many non Black minority communities conveniently forget too.
So yeah, while some non Black POC experience innappropriate police action, it absolutely cannot be compared to the daily police brutality Black people experience.
Reehana, I completely agree (POC – Indian decent – part of that “model minority”). Yes, we deal with our own version of discrimination of course here and there. But nothing like what black people experience. What they go thru is absolutely horrifying and 1000000% wrong, no excuses can be made for it at all. At a place I used to work, one of my coworkers was complaining about the discrimination she felt she was dealing with there. And I said something about how I didn’t have that experience, and she told me that I wouldn’t because I was part of “the club”. That really stuck with me. And it was true.
Exactly. Many of us have experienced discrimination, but it can’t be compared to an entire system and structure that was built to keep you down. It’s not the same thing and we need to open our eyes to that.
Here’s a recommendation for another podcast: NPR’s Code Switch. All of the episodes talk about race, but one of their most powerful discusses race and friendships. It was so moving and powerful, and spawned a great discussion between myself and friends, who all could relate. https://www.npr.org/2020/01/28/800441227/how-race-and-racism-affect-our-friendships
Ariene at @dressmyroom on Instagram has fabulous vintage furniture and accessories!!
While I appreciate you taking this step, I also continue to feel discouraged at your lack of engagement from feedback over the years on race on your platform. For example, so much silence on the post weeks ago about problematic statements made re: Alison Roman and her racist attacks on women of color. This is just one recent, salient example btw- as your whole platform is consumed by whiteness. It doesn’t shock me, but I sometimes just am flabbergasted by how segregated a life you portray in such a diverse city (one in which I grew up and had a wildly different experience in). There have been so many insights shared by your readers over the years that has been ignored while you perpetuate white privilege as an influencer. The fly by night support for a movement comes off as very tone deaf to me when you actively resist doing the everyday work.
I appreciate your awareness and challenge. Before ev eryone starts protecting Emily, let’s remember that conflict is designed to produce growth, not pain, tho awareness sometimes hurts. We will grow is we truly listen to other beings and reach to understand each other. that is the gift of conflict. block the conflict, block the learning.
What post are you referring to? I’m a daily reader and this doesn’t ring a bell. I’d like to read the comments. Thanks!
This is the post re: Alison Roman:
Not surprisingly, there was a lot of discussion and no comments from Emily. Also, the comments about Alison Roman in the post were not changed or a comment was not added at all. In my mind, silence is violence.
Hey Dani, Admittedly i never read that post or comments until today and for that I’m sorry. (I should read every comment but on the weekend its harder) Myself and my team will be better at this. I read about that at the time and it was a big conversation amongst my friends, outraged of her comments. I’m sorry i didn’t bring that here.
Hi Emily, thank you for responding. I am glad to see you and your team are committed to doing better. Today Cornel West said “try again, fail again, fail better” and I think that is so true of what we all must do in this work.
There was quitea conversation andcallingout of it on CoJ too.
I have a hard time believing this statement, that you didn’t read the post or the comments. First of all, as a small business owner/blogger, shouldn’t you want to read/own the content that is behind your name and support your employees? Second, that generated a lot of comments, wouldn’t you be notified that a particular post generated more comments than normal? Third, Mallory posted a comment. She didn’t bring it up to you that something she posted caused a lot of your readers to discuss and ask for your input? I’m super not impressed with how, instead of taking responsibility and being like, “I hoped it would blow over” or whatever the truth is, you expect us to believe that no one on your team was aware or made you aware that a) you posted an Allison Roman link and b) it generated over 150 comments in a short period of time. I’m not a social media influencer/blogger, but I feel like there has to be something built in your website to alert you to when something you post is generating that much interest.
Mallory Wackerman–are you going to continue to reply to other comments and conveniently ignore this one? You made a mistake and continue to refuse to take accountability for it. Did you not notify the rest of the EHD team? That’s professionally irresponsible and I’d hope for better from a team that’s “committed to doing better.” Also, yes, you post-edited the link up but did not add an editor’s note about the revision. You’re conveniently erasing your mistake instead of acknowledging WHY you needed to edit it in the first place. Have some integrity.
Emily and team–please acknowledge and respond WHY you haven’t addressed the concerned and continuous requests for a more diverse and nuanced POV over the years. You can’t begin to do better without recognizing past mistakes.
thanks for posting. no idea who that person was, never heard of her.
Dani you are correct, and it shouldn’t have fallen on you to bring this to our attention. While we had no knowledge of Alison’s comments before the post went up, our lack of post editing the content is inexcusable. It has now been edited and we take full responsibility for our actions.
Dani. You are right. I could write for days explaining and defending and blah blah and send you all the drafts on this subject I wrote but never published, but no, you are right, I wasn’t doing the work, and I didn’t really realize this until this weekend. I didn’t publish them, and thats the problem. Rest assured thats changing and i’d love to talk to you more about it. I really appreciate your conversation and dialogue. I’m sorry I wasn’t a better ally earlier. truly.
Your YOU posts about your views and take on things are my favourite posts! If you feel ut, write it and post it.
Your writing is so, so valuable andit encourages frowth and learning in all of us! xx
Hi Dani, thank you for your honesty. I want to personally let you know that I agree with you and will actively do better to respond to feedback that may be uncomfortable. I am sorry and I want to do better x
second this and not just the Alison Roman business.
After the Alison Roman post I stopped following Emily on Instagram. You summarized my frustrations perfectly!
This is WONDERFUL. Thank you so much!
Thank you for this. And thank you for #2 idea. It’s honestly one of the first things I noticed about the reader event at the house or whenever there are large gatherings of influencers of this topic sponsored or not or list roundups, that this world didn’t really look like me. But I love your blog for practical advice and I appreciate your willingness to examine yourself. Thank you for that.
Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is a beautifully written autobiographical novel of her childhood in segregated Arkansas in the 1930s. It is an eye-opening, heartbreaking, funny, and worthwhile read. It paints of picture of a reality so different than my own that I otherwise wouldn’t have shelves for it in my mind. The story of racism is has too many chapters, and this book gave me a glimpse into the chapter written when my grandparents were kids.
I live in Vancouver and we have seen a big increase in racist attacks on our Asian community, since Covid, which is shocking. I just read this article with a few tips on how to talk to your kids about racism- https://www.vancouvermom.ca/for-mom/how-to-talk-about-racism-with-your-kids/
thank you. I’m so sad about those attacks. thank you for the resource – we need every and all good articles about raising our kids being anti-racist right now. 😉
Thank you for caring.
I applaud this use of your platform. I too am ashamed and angry.
i do ask that you not put age as a reason for politicians to be flawed. They may be insensitive, blinded by priveledge, but age ism won’t help.
I think it’s important to acknowledge that politicians who were children in the 50s or 60s (when many Black Americans didn’t even have the right to vote) may have to do some extra legwork to keep up. It’s not necessarily their fault, but it is their responsibility, and many older Americans are not doing the work.
I’m also pretty tired of people crying “ageism” when the Senate looks like a white grandpa convention and both Presidential nominees are septuagenarians. They are not the victims here.
I was a child in the 60’s and we absolutely learned racism was wrong (and my parents born in the 30’s knew it was wrong – and we’re white). The 60’s were when the civil rights movement gathered huge momentum – and unfortunately sad setbacks ever since. Please do not give them that excuse. And if they didn’t learn as children, you’re right that it is their responsibility to get on board. I’ve always thought one (of many) aspects of American society that perpetuated racism was that school funding is at the local level, by real estate taxes. It always meant that public schools in poor areas would never have enough funding and other areas would be luxurious with all sorts of advanced courses, amenities and support for children with learning difficulties. My sister taught in a poor suburb of Washington, DC and many of the children in her 4th and 5th grade classes were babysitting the “little” kids at night, when their parents were at their second or third job. We need EXTRA funding for schools in poor areas, where the parents don’t have the money to pay for extra tutoring, summer programs and may not be around to… Read more »
MaryBeth. Your comment is everything. The part about public schools is SO SPOT ON.
Veronica Solomon is a maximalist local to me in the Houston area whose work is really fun. https://www.veronicasolomon.com/our-work
Thank you for the recommendation!
Thank you for this. I’m in the same boat over here. Feeling ashamed, safe in my white privilege. I’m thankful you used your platform to talk about this. I’ve signed, called, and donated and am proactively reading the anti-racist literature and educating myself. I can’t imagine the pain black people are feeling right now.
A great site for movie and TV reviews that goes into detail about representation and diversity in the cast, crew, and story is Mediaversity. We’ve discovered some great movies this way.
This is great! Thank you
Memphis based Carmeon Hamilton @nubiinteriors (California cool style meets vibrant color. Unabashedly incorporates her blackness into all her design choices)
Giving everyone here a follow! Thank you xx
I second Nubi Interiors!!
Yep! Carmeon definitely deserves a follow.
Thank you for this xx
Thank you for this. I love your blog and design sense but have always noticed the lack of diversity here. I hope the inclusion of black designers is not temporary and a step towards a more conscious representation here.
Nicole Crowder @nicolemcrowder https://www.marthastewart.com/7838576/nicole-crowder-upholstery
Thank you for posting this. One thing that I noticed you said was “I’m feeling like we have a pretty terrible government in general if “protection” is their main function.”
I LOVE that you said that. I NEVER see white influencers say that. As a POC, my saying this is somehow problematic, and un-American, and un-patriotic, etc. Why is acknowledging what a messed up government we have considered this? I mean, unless you’re white. Then protesting quarantines and other nonsense is totally cool.
This is why Colin Kaepernick got so much hatred for kneeling during the anthem. A lot (most?) white people seem to think that his kneeling is disrespectful to the country. But no, he’s expressing his feeling as a POC to what is happening to Black people in this country. That’s a silent protest. Which is a very American thing to do.
agreed. in every way. xx
I think the CK kneeling thing is that it just doesn’t make sense. If you’re wanting to create deep and lasting change in this country and bring anti racism to the forefront (which are both good and necessary), how does kneeling during the national anthem lead to the end goal? Protesting the anthem? Protesting the country? It’s incongruent.
Hi Cami — public displays of resistance and rebellion have been used throughout US history to enact social change (you can do some googling to read more about them). Kneeling during a national anthem during one of the most widely viewed sporting events in America is a visible and unavoidable reminder to the ~16.5 million viewers of CK’s message the Black genocide must end. You know your action is working when establishment figures go to great lengths to silence you.
Between voter suppression and systematic predatory lending and everything in between, Black folks have been denied power. Between peaceful kneeling and street demonstrations, none of their actions “make sense”. What actions have you found lead to dismantling white supremacy?
It makes people ask “Why?”, makes them question, makes them think!
The people protesting the quarantine weren’t burning and looting. Just a small point.
They weren’t being murdered by police. Because they were white. Just a small point.
I live in Minneapolis. In fact, the riots are about a block away. The destruction is in my back yard. Literally guns are going off behind my home. This is no longer about the horrible and racist tragedy, half of the rioters interviewed by locals don’t live there and do not even know the name George Floyd. They came for the looting, chaos and destruction. The businesses getting destroyed are local, mostly minority owned businesses and it is ruining our community. It is scary and a war zone. My heart broke when I walked around my block. Our citizens follow the example of our leadership and right now, our leadership is full of selfish hate.
Brandie, wow. thank you for sharing,. i’m so sorry.
Whatever shade of color your skin is, you are accountable for YOUR behavior. Comparing yourself to someone else because of your skin color stinks. Change can happen if it starts with me. How about that Golden Rule, it sure can work if we let it. And being real clear about this weekend, someone tried to cash fake money at a deli, not on the right side of law, he got caught, and something unthinkable happened, he also got caught and now behind bars. Two wrongs don’t make a right!! ‘Help someone you know understand’ how doing something against the law is always going to end bad, or even worse. Not a good way to become famous overnight. Better to put your best foot forward and see if it doesn’t make this country a better place to live. So proud of the citizens who did just that today, bringing their brooms to clean the streets, ‘help someone you know understand’ that too. You will be putting out fires in our future.
I appreciate that you posted this, Emily. But it takes much more consistent time, energy, and visible action to join this movement. You need to hire black interior designers on your staff and pay them well. Allow them to produce content that elevates their voice rather than tokenizing their experience. Up to now, your features of anything by BIPOC have been few and far between, and you’ve spoken on the issue of race on MLK Day and one other time, in 2017, about white supremacy.
My expectation is that this is the beginning of a profound shift in your business model and content. Not just another post like the one in 2017 that was followed by no visible action for your readership.
It’s hard work! Wishing you and your team the best.
thank you. you are right. its a tipping point for a lot of people, me included. but yes, expect better and more from me and us.
Thank you, Emily. I really appreciate you using this platform to discuss anti-racism. Love the idea of highlighting Black creators and business owners going forward. Please keep up this work!
Emily, thank you for modeling the humility and vulnerability that is required of us all to wade through, learn and grow. One suggestion I have is for you to also highlight the ways we can seek justice for Breonna Taylor as well.
Women of color are so often completely left out of the narrative. Let’s make sure we elevate their stories as well.
Thank you for sending that link through and we will absolutely include it in tomorrow’s post<3
I appreciate your sentiment as expressed in the above post. Highlighting and hiring black designers is a way to solve part of the problem, which is economic injustice. However, you can do more than just shine a spotlight on those who are outside of the tent. You can allow us into the tent.
If you’re hiring practices do not reflect the diversity of the city and state in which you live, then you were part of the problem. Riots are the language of the unheard. When people have a seat at the table, both socially and economically, they don’t have to take to the streets.
As a black reader of your blog, I appreciate your understanding and your commitment, but challenge you to do more. Bring diversity into your staff and into the places that benefit from your talents and connections.
Amazing comment, thank you for posting!
I totally agree. I WANT more diversity on our team and always have. Its my job to go after it more, highlight it more, be better at this. i’ll look at how we can make all our decisions better. Challenge accepted. thank you for reading and giving constructive criticsm. Thank you.
Emily, if it helps, look at the story of why Samantha Bee was hired on the Daily Show. Jon Stewart got called out on not having a diverse writers room and he first felt defensive and offended, saying those were just the portfolios he was sent and he chose the best ones. But then, when he took a step back and reflected, he realized they were right. That it wasn’t enough to passively expect good people to find him, he had to actively search for them. He asked his people to ONLY bring him portfolios of women and POC. And it worked! He found Sam Bee, hasan minhaj and others. He lifted them up and look where they are now because he extended his wing and took them under it. You have the power to do this. Reach out and cultivate, mentor, and encourage your influencer friends to do the same. For so many kids of color, then world is so small. I taught low income students and they all wanted to be basketball players, secretaries, sometimes a store manager or a paramedic. They have no idea what is out there. They have no idea your job exists. Creative kids… Read more »
Emily, thank you for caring.
From a Native American women, Diné, (Navajo).
We are more alike then we are different. But my life as a black women is not an experience that can cross the color line. MLK once said “it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” For these troubled times I’d add TWitter, IG and any streaming service as shades of separate but equal. Our algorithms control almost everything we see. The liberal bubble and the conservative corral exist because our shared entertainment and experiences are funneled by algorithms into separate worlds communities. Change your algorithm on streaming platforms with black entertainment movies, shows, and documentaries. This supports black artists, black tastemakers, and black businesses. While also making you laugh, smile, learn, and binge watch black lives in all complexities and layers. If you search for some and even add a few to your watchlist your algorithm will change and you will see whole swaths of black entertainment that never popped up for you before. I’ve done my best on the list below to include a wide range of not heavy just happy entertainment and/or sites to follow. Most of these aren’t “educational” on specific black issues but they do show… Read more »
Thank you for those lists!
I really hope people follow or watch or search for even a few of what I listed. It isn’t hard. It just has to be done intentionally. All of the accounts are on IG , all the movies and tv shows are on Hulu or Netflix or Amazon Prime or CBS All Access. The least we can do is be entertained together amirite…
Thanks for taking the time and emotional energy to compile this list. The burden shouldn’t be on you to educate us, but we are all better off because of the information you’ve taken the time to share.
Danielle, you are completely right. Understanding the role that algorithms play in our content consumption (based on how we already engage with the different platforms) is so much more important than we might think. We can’t thank you enough for taking the time to put this incredible list together! We plan on sharing it in hopes that it continues to reach a wider audience thus starting to create change in what we are being exposed to.
WOW. Thank you for all of this work to share. THANK YOU!
Thank you, Danielle. I completely agree with your take on algorithms. I currently follow several black accounts (political in nature) on Instagram, but I will be adding many of your recommendations. Much appreciated!
This must’ve taken so long to write out but you did that. For us. THANK YOU. You shouldn’t have to educate me, but this list and your points above really help.
As a white woman living in center city Philadelphia with three small kids and a military husband, I didn’t fully feel, until tonight with parts of my city on fire and the smoke wafting into our apartment, how unsafe the world must feel for you. I will keep doing my part to be an anti-racist and to raise conscious kids so maybe one day you can feel safer for your husband and son.
This is awesome, thank you for these great resources.
And … we all bleed red blood!
Danielle, thank you again for taking the time to comment such a thoughtful response with so many resources. I remember you emailing us A Syllabus For White People and I still reference it to this day. Your comments are so so appreciated. I can’t thank you enough for putting in the work to educate us white people and I wish you didn’t have to do that. I am sorry and I want to do better. x
Danielle, thank you for your generosity, giving your time to write out such a great list.
One of the best things I did (as a white woman who grew up in a very white town and was surrounded, at the time, by white people) about 8 years ago was drastically change my Twitter timeline by following a ton of Black and other minority journalists, activists, comedians, writers, etc. It was one of my first baby steps forward in understanding my own whiteness and privilege, and was so helpful in letting me listen to the voices of BIPOC without inserting myself or demanding anything of them. Those first steps have led to many, many more essential parts of the work—doing the reading, joining in local equity work groups, etc—but it is for sure an incredible way for white people to expand the voices they are hearing on a daily basis and break out of the segregated bubbles they may not even realize they have built for themselves.
Just copied this list to my desktop. Thank you for this and thank you for your patience with us, we don’t deserve it. How can I give credit to you for this amazing list? <3
Thank you for speaking out. Like other commenters, I’m hopeful this kicks off a new trend of awareness on your platform. One thing I’m really missing about Design Sponge is the posts Grace Bonney shares on POC artists, designers, and businesses. I would love to see this blog fill some of that void.
That is absolutely our plan<3
Ok stepping into a land mine here but want to learn… (1) lots of the comments are about diversifying Emily’s team. Yes, of course, great, I agree. But what does this insinuate? There were previous POC applicants who were as qualified as the people she hired…but she just chose not to hire them? (And yes, I get unconscious bias). Question I am trying to ask, is how do you get the diverse team you want in theory when certain demographics aren’t applying? And yes, white-privileged-guilty, but if my options are person A with all the programming skills I’m seeking, and person B with 3/4 of the skills I’m seeking…. I’m going to hire the person that has all the skills, regardless of skin color… how is that wrong if person A ends up being white and person B ends up being black (or vice versa)? (2) separately, and I think most comments were made in a constructive way, but Emily was trying to do the right thing by writing this article…can she do better/more? Sure. We all can. But the backlash to not having the perfect tone throughout honestly just makes me want to retreat further into my bubble, for… Read more »
you brought up a lot and I am not an expert so other people will answer better than me I am sure; First off the premise of using a percentage to evaluate someone’s worth is SO LOADED in this conversation (You don’t know the history of that?!). Google THAT first. The assumption you make that there aren’t qualified candidates – is so bizarre to me. Most often people who are discriminated against have to work way harder to gain respect in a room because of discrimination (not the other way around). I also wonder about your idea that you hire someone on just their skill set as if it is a set bar that never changes. People aren’t widgets – skills can be learned and good bosses grow good employees careers- they don’t hire fully formed professionals and that’s forever their experience. She didn’t experience backlash – she experienced people who cared enough to tell her how she could improve – Literally if you feel shame (which she admits), and are trying to be better – the most respectful and CARING thing people can do is to take there time to tell her how to be better. It is incredibly… Read more »
Hi Anom- if you search “inclusive hiring practices” you’ll find a ton of resources. It’s not just about writing an ad and saying oh well no POC applied. There are many ways an employer can write better job postings to encourage more diverse applicants, cast a wider net themselves to source diverse applicants, etc etc. In addition having a diverse panel of interviewers is important as welL. Specifically to your question about someone who has 100% of the skills needed vs someone who would need some skilling up its important to be aware of unconscious bias and being open to what other unique skills someone could bring to the table. If they’re 75% of the way there could you train on the remaining skills needed and get the person ramped up in 3 months? 6 months? Broadening our idea of what a perfect candidate is and how to find them is crucial to change hiring patterns. I hope this helped in some way. Thanks for asking your questions.
I think your questions are a good first step in trying to learn more. One thing that might help you wrap your head around it is how people only used to consider women as “diversity.” If you saw a company that was only men, would you assume that no women had applied or that no women were qualified? Recruiting a diverse team has been shown to have many benefits. And going back to the same metaphor, it’s also been shown that when a lone female applicant in a pool of male applicants has pretty much zero chances of being hired. Of course skills are important but so is being part aware of your own unconscious biases. People are also often hired because they “hit it off” or “would fit in well.” Do you click better with a person because they send their kid to the same school as you or you guys had a brief bonding moment about how good the food is in the neighborhood you both live in-all of which have a racial dimension. These examples may seem innocuous but might help one examine why they might be drawn more to some people than others. Are your interview… Read more »
I absolutely agree. I’ve definitely never been focused on skills and neither where they’v gone to college if at all. The blog/media/photography world and even styling should have more diversity (speaking to myself) ESPECIALLY since this blog doesn’t just write about design (clearly). We’ve had this conversation many many many times but obviously need to work harder to cast a wider net. I want more diverse voices more than you know, we talk about it a lot but clearly haven’t tried hard enough. Thank you Melkorka, Rae and Bri. thank you.
Thanks for stepping on that land mine, because we all learn from the responses and your questions. I thought the video Trevor Noah put out recently was helpful for relating the recent events to a larger societal perspective. We all come from different life experiences and have so much to learn from each other in various areas. Here in Alaska, my life as a white middle class teacher has little opportunity for connection to black Americans, as there are few in the state, and very few in my town, so I really appreciate the recommendations included in these posts, I’m not sure how I would find all these resources on my own. Challenges faced by Native Alaskans are in the front of my mind as students and families deal with racism, cultural appropriation, and continuing life in their homeland under control of a colonizing cultural. I bring this up only to expand the conversation. This year, Elizabeth Peratrovitch was honored on a $1 coin for her work in civil rights in Alaska and Native Alaskans have looked forward to this as a long overdue acknowledgement. Her work (and that of many) began to make changes to law in the 40s… Read more »
i’m so not an expert in any of this, but i recently came across an article about workplace diversity centered on a lot of the questions you brought up. Basically, the answer is, workplaces need to cultivate a culture and a safe place that is inviting and welcoming to BIPOC. The “lack of applicants” argument holds no water—those people are out there, and if they aren’t applying to the company’s posts, that’s a problem with the company, NOT the applicants.
Hey Anom, I hope you had a chance to read all of the responses to your comment, because there is a lot of really good information in them! Personally, I’ve learned a lot just from reading through them. A few people have called out EHD here for not having a very diverse team, and they are absolutely correct. Our current team is almost exclusively white (I am Latina and first generation via my mother, but I am white presenting, and therefore benefit from the unearned privileges afforded me by my outward appearance – though I would like to point out that racism against Black people is prevalent throughout the Latin community as well, and we are not exempt from our part in systemic American racism just because we aren’t white). We need to do better within our own community (our team), and it goes further than just occasionally spotlighting Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, Asian, or other minority designers. As a senior member of the team, I know it is my responsibility to ensure that when it comes to our hiring practices in the future, we are doing more than just “finding the best fit.” Representation matters. I will also be doing… Read more »
I worked somewhere that had a lot of success hiring more female (cis and trans) and nonbinary software engineers by straight up reaching out to them. Don’t wait for them to apply, go to them.
Yes! Seek them out. Head-hunt! And hire.
Thanks for taking the time to acknowledge that you are a white presenting Latina! This kind of language reminds all of us to think critically about how our racialized bodies are read and understood by US society.
I’ve been reading about inclusive hiring practices and learning more about unconscious bias all evening…and it’s now 4am. Still have more work to do, but a start. A sincere thank you to everyone who took the time to help me understand and recommend suggestions! I was hesitant to post bc I was worried how people would respond, but found nothing but thoughtful responses – thank you for your kindness.
Highlight Shavonda Gardner!!! And Carmeon Hamilton!!!
Thank you for the recommendations Megan!
You should definitely check out Kelly Finley’s work at https://www.joystreetdesign.com/. She is an incredibly talented designer (she was the brains behind our full remodel) and dedicates so much of her time to giving back to the community.
Will do! Thank you!
Thank you so much Julie, for taking time to share this recommendation!
Emily, this is why I follow you.
I love your design work and what you do collectively with your team. In fact I’ve followed you since Design Star.
But I’ve lost patience—in the last four years at least—for superficial “influencers” who either stay silent or say the most vague, banal things in the face of horrific injustice.
I admire your genuine humility and commitment to providing the real real. And of course I always love your brilliant work—even when I don’t particularly like, I love it.
Trying something is ALWAYS better than DOING nothing…
When a person who tries is shamed they are silenced and silence stops the conversation. Stopping the conversation will stop the possibility for change.
Look. Listen. Love. Act….
At the same time, we can’t turn on the defensive when someone shares straight forward feedback. And we can’t expect to be coddled when we make a mistake. We have to understand that these topics are bigger than us, and far too important to be delicately handled for the sake of our own emotions. Thank you for continuing the conversation with us! We truly appreciate those who are willing to share their perspectives, but understand that not everyone can spend their emotional energy doing so. This is why we (the EHD team) must continue to do our own educating on anti-racism.
I think there’s an important distinction to be made between being shamed and feeling ashamed. I can feel ashamed when a friend points out my white privilege, but that’s not the same as them shaming me. I think the best response you can have to someone letting you know you messed up is, “thank you”. It takes courage to bring this stuff up when so many folks react defensively.
Thank you for your words Julie!
Looks like it’s going to be up to women to make this country free for all. VOTE.
I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT IT’S NOT COMPULSORY TO VOTE IN THE U.S.!
In Australia m we have to vote and I’m so glad. It makes us consider the big issues and put our vote out there!
VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. VOTE.
Thank you for using your platform to bring awareness and ways to continue to learn.
First, thank you for posting. As with anything, you’ll get feedback on areas for improvement, and that’s ok. It doesn’t invalidate your journey on the anti-racist road. Second, “We…will be making a concerted effort to bring different and diverse voices and experiences to this blog.” Super excited about this part! I’ve enjoyed your site for quite some time, but I’d love to see your team and focus grow more inclusive.
There will always be room for us to improve, and we truly appreciate anyone who takes the time, effort, and energy to generously provide feedback (because it is not their responsibility to educate us). We have to acknowledge that we will make mistakes as we continuously work on practicing anti-racism, but the fear of “not getting it right” should never be an excuse to do nothing instead. Complacency and silence are just different forms of racism and violence.
Emily and Team,
Show us in your actions that you truly mean to elevate people of color. Bring them into your network. Hire them. Highlight them. Mentor them. Acknowledge them. Make this more than a post. To see the Alison Roman recommendation from a previous post not amended is so, so disheartening. I know this is hard. I know this isn’t easy, but I have faith in you guys. You can do this and I will read your blog every day knowing that you are working towards doing better. progress over perfection. xoxo
Suzanne, thank you for taking time to read our blog, and for your faith in us to do better. We know we have a lot of work ahead of us, and are going to do our best not to let you down.
thanks, Suzanne. We will “Hire them. Highlight them. Mentor them. Acknowledge them.” Appreciate your support, truly. xx
Thank you Suzanne. I completely agree with you and appreciate your honesty and call to action. xx
To say that “white people are especially cruel” is absurd. People of ALL races can be equally cruel. Do your homework and you’ll be shocked to see the statistics on murder between races. This use of identity politics is dangerous and irresponsible. Evil is evil. End of story. However, I do agree with you that we need to vote out those in charge. The city of Minneapolis is run by Dems and look what happened. Minorities always suffer under Democrat control. Look it up, the numbers don’t lie. Now agitators are being bused in from other areas to destroy minority owned businesses and the peaceful protesters will be blamed. Sadly, when the news narrative changes, the people of the affected community will be the only ones who suffer…and the cycle continues. We need real change! Not virtual signaling.
Read it again if you didn’t understand it.
Yeah…this comment makes no sense.
I totally agree with you Taylor!
Please read this to understand some of the criticism you are receiving and how you can learn to approach this in a new way. “The “I’m so ashamed” response is about you. There are two problems with making a conversation about racist violence about your level of disgust with racist violence: It doesn’t address the systems or personal choices that led to the racist violence, nor does it focus on the person who actually experienced the racist violence. It focuses on the inner lives of white people who are imagining both what it would feel like to have to survive that kind of assault, and also what it would feel like to have committed it. The work you need to do? It isn’t identifying the surface emotion (shame!) and calling it a day. The work you need to do is identifying what parts of yourself you recognize in Amy (they are there), and what parts you see in the community around you. On some level, telegraphing our disgust with racism encourages white people to see “talking about racism” as on par with “engaging in anti-racism,” and it is not. We all agree that racism is an abhorrent stain on our… Read more »
Jessica, thank you for sharing that article. I just finished reading through it, and it had many good points that I needed to hear as I reflect on my own white fragility and the ways I am complicit in systematic racism in America. Feeling ashamed of our nations history, our current government, and my own actions is natural (and a correct feeling to have), but centering the story back on my own emotions and experiences won’t help anyone.
“INSTEAD OF POSTING ‘I’m so ashamed…Do not say that. Say ‘I’m sorry,’ ‘I see you,’ or ‘that’s awful,’ an expression of condolence and connection that isn’t about you and your feelings.”
I will take this with me moving forward.
I agree and no congratulating myself here, I promise. I think admitting shame is just a step, part of the journey (an easy part) but not its not the work and I totally agree with you. I’m sorry. I particularly responded to this: “On some level, telegraphing our disgust with racism encourages white people to see “talking about racism” as on par with “engaging in anti-racism,” and it is not.” I think you are very right. thank you.
While your suggestions are good, our murderous, racist police forces are not going to change unless we understand where we are and how we got here. Everyone, and I mean everyone, should read The Rise of the Warrior Cop: the Militarization of America’s Police Forces, by Radley Balko.
While early history is discussed, most of the book deals with changes that have been wrought over the past 60 years (Los Angeles plays a major role in this history) – the evisceration of the fourth amendment, the rise of SWAT teams, the oppressive role played by the war on drugs and the war on terror. He gives horrifying examples of how these changes have effected individual lives.
A few police chiefs have tried to change things over the years with little success. I think that if enough people understand what must change and pressure their elected officials, something can be done.
I want to read this. thank you.
Thank you Emily. Thank you for being an active listener. I appreciate your writing.
And for a Black designer on Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/carmeon.hamilton/
I have hope that you can and will use your platform for good.
Thank you for sharing Lisa!
And so the question becomes, what will you do? As a white woman, your power far exceeds many. As a woman of color, I’m Hispanic, I could not fully see or comprehend the fear that Blacks experienced. I am now a mother to a biracial son, he is half Black, and that fear is now real and it’s sits with me daily. That fear for him far exceeds anything I have experienced for myself. I see his cousins who are biracial, half white, and the privilege of protection they experience just because of their skin color is real. All I want is for my son to be seen as equal… because he is. You see, his cousin (my nephew) has had a few run ins with the law. Silly minor infractions that youth can get tangled in. What I know in my heart is that both times he walked away with a slap on the wrist. If that were my son he may not make it to the courthouse and if he does, he’d probably get time in that first silly infraction. So my son must be better, more perfect in his steps as he navigates life. May he never… Read more »
Rebecca, your comment is heart breaking. No mother should ever feel scared every time their son leaves the house, and yet that is the reality for too many moms in America. It is unconscionable that he must “be better, more perfect in his steps as he navigates life” in order to survive his daily life. I am sorry.