In the wake of the social unrest resulting from the death of George Floyd, among others, I’ve taken some time to do some learning.

Lots of reading, listening, watching. I haven’t created much of my own. Sometimes you have to stop what you’re doing and listen.

And in the process, I’ve realized that in my 20 or so years as a graphic designer, I haven’t worked with many Black designers. I can count on one hand the Black designers I’ve worked with personally.

Why is that?

To answer my questions about why there aren’t many black graphic designers, I did some digging. I found this video from Maurice Cherry on the AIGA website. It was enlightening:

It sounds to me like there are barriers in the pipeline preventing Black people from getting into graphic design in the first place. For whatever reason, it’s not really acknowledged as a viable career in high schools. So not many Black young people are going to college for it or studying for it. They just aren’t in the pipeline, unfortunately. I wonder how well the workplace as a whole is set up for it, if minority support exists, or if it is simply lip-service.

I’d love to see this change.

What’s really interesting is how much Madison Avenue parallels Silicon Valley: the numbers for diversity in their respective fields are very similar.

There’s clearly an imbalance of career options in the creative and tech industries.

That said, there seem to be more opportunities for People of Color in the fashion industry, but I’m not familiar with it so I don’t know.

How do we change this?

It’s a challenge trying to figure out how to change this imbalance in our industry. I think the place to start is with yourself, identifying your own implicit biases and doing something about them, asking yourself if you are preventing access for Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC). Then, take the time to educate young people so they see design as a possible career.

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