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7 Ways: Being better allies in architecture and design

31 July 2020

The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Belly Mujinga, the brutality against Black people and those protesting for the Black Lives Matter movement in America has shone a light on racism across the world and all sectors of society.

This outrage is not new. This is not an American problem. Racism and white supremacy exists in the UK, and it certainly exists structurally in the Design and Architecture industry

We want to express our ongoing commitment
to amplifying Black and minority voices within our industry, as well as in the work we do with communities on a daily basis.

We hope we can encourage organisations and individuals who follow us to reflect on what they can do to be better allies in the fight against racism.
We spent Blackout Tuesday thinking about what this means to us, as a team and have some suggestions, which are by no means exhaustive but we hope it is a start.

1. Making space

This means making space for, listening to, promoting, celebrating and supporting Black people who are doing amazing work in our field, such as:

Black Females in Architecture |@blackfemarc
N.A.W | @newarchwriters
Afterparti | @afterpartizine
Migrant’s Bureau | @migrantsbureau
Resolve Collective | @resolvecollective
Elsie Owusu | @elsie_owusu
The POoR Collective | @Poor_Collective

2. Educating *yourself*

This means educating yourself on the history and reality of racism today. Here are a few pieces that people in our team recommend:

Read: Why I ‘m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Read: Natives: race and class in the ruins of the empire by Akala
Read: Equality includes you, Good men project
Watch: Decolonising Architecture @blackfemarc
Watch: The 13th (on Netflix)
Follow: @thegreatunlearn
Listen: About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge (podcast)
Listen: 1619 Podcast

And if you are purchasing a new book, please do support local Black-owned bookshops – check out a great list of some London-based and online ones here.

3. Donating & Partnering

This means donating and partnering with causes if you can. Here are a few that we can support fighting for diversity and supporting Black people in our industry and others:

Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust |@s_lawrencetrust
Hip Hop Architecture | @hiphoparch
BYP Network | @BYPnetwork
Amos Bursary | @amosbursary
Ananse Arts | @anansearts
The Black Curriculum | @theblackcurriculum

Donate to the UK Black Lives Matter Fund:

4. Having difficult conversations

This means having difficult conversations with people you care about, getting it wrong and learning how to do better.

We talk about this in our latest newsletter, so have a read of some illustrated tips here, or check out Sam Reed’s brilliant article here for some more in-depth thoughts and approaches.

5. Re-evaluate (over, and over, and over again)

This means starting on your doorstep and re-evaluating your workplace. It needs to be more diverse and supportive for Black people to access and be a part of – to quote Nasra Abdullahi at our Food for Thought event last year, “This is not a ‘nice-to-have’. Radical access is vital”.

6. Speak up

This means speaking up – using your voice and platform to be anti-racist, professionally and politically as well as personally.

Consider speaking to the examples below, suggesting action and offering your support:
Your peers
Your colleagues
Your clients
The University you attended
Local secondary schools
Your local MP

7. Work in progress

Systemic racial inequality isn’t something that can be fixed overnight or via social media alone. It needs to be an ongoing, effort to research, listen and learn from others and to do the work.

We certainly don’t claim to have all the answers and know that there are undoubtedly other individuals, initiatives, organisations, and resources we can learn from and support to effect change in our industry.

Please share anything you think we might have missed and should know about, and we will actively update this post to reflect this.