The Think Blog

Celebrating Black Voices in Design and Technology—Past, Present, and Future

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In the spirit of Black History Month, and in building on our efforts to better serve and empower the Black community, we asked Black Thinkers one question:

“How would you like the design and technology community to celebrate Black History Month?”

They responded with numerous thoughts around a common theme—past, present, and future. We should share and celebrate the accomplishments of Black designers and technologists of the past, take action to amplify and support Black talent right now, and look forward to creating space and more equitable opportunities for the future.  

How would you like the design and technology community to celebrate Black History Month?

Keith Rich, Senior Experience Designer, was inspired by Baratunde Thurston, “The Movement for Black Lives,” and others on the idea of Black Future Month. 

“Imagine Black History Month as a month-long kickoff or planning session where we look forward and determine how each month of the year will be celebrated. Assign each month a topic or area of design and create events and resources that celebrate the achievements of Black designers and innovators from the past and present, and also highlight ways to ensure opportunities are available for future Black innovators to continue to contribute and impact that area of design or technology.” 

David Dylan Thomas, Content Strategy Advocate, would like our community to do these two things right now:

  1. Shop at Black-owned businesses (here’s a list he provided)
  2. “And I’d like for folks to mask up because COVID affects Black communities far more harshly than most.”

You’ll find more from Dave in our list of Black Voices in Tech below. 

Chelsea Jones, Senior Experience Designer, is all about lifting up those around us in the now to help impact and change their future.   

In honor of Black History Month, I want to encourage all professionals to turn to their community and bring someone up with them. This is something we should be doing all year round, but especially during this month. So many Black leaders have changed the very fabric of American history, and this is our time to commemorate their work by making our own impact in at least one person’s life. One conversation has the power to change someone’s future.

Darian Davis, Senior Experience Designer, wants us to be sure to focus on the present and not just celebrate the past. 

“I also think Black history extends to the present. It’s a way to honor the contributions of the past, but also to recognize that much more is left to be done. We ALL have a responsibility to create more equitable and inclusive opportunities for Black designers and engineers, because creativity and problem solving (tenets of our craft) thrive when it happens among diverse people and mindsets. In that vein, we can best celebrate Black History Month by increasing our commitment to mentor, hire, and promote Black designers and engineers.”

 

“We all should be motivated by this thought: that being the first Black person at anything means nothing if you’re also the last.” – Darian Davis

 

Vivian Ogbonnaya, Senior Project Manager, wants us to recognize Black leaders from our past and focus on elevating emerging leaders’ voices. 

“Our community can celebrate BHM by not only showing reverence for key black leaders from our past, but also by elevating the voices of our emerging leaders. Creating spaces and making room to amplify and spotlight individuals that don’t profess to be ‘civil rights leaders,’ but actually are in their own right.”

In a community filled with talented Black designers and technologists, it’s clear that “in the broader design and tech community we don’t fully understand or recognize the contributions to the design and tech fields by Black people.” Thinker Darian Davis suggests sharing and featuring Black individuals on our platforms to help broaden awareness.

These conversations and answers inspired us to crowdsource articles, organizations, and individuals within our community that we should support, follow, and learn from—this month and the next.

History of Black Designers, Developers, and Tech Professionals

Organizations, Meetup Groups, and Communities by Black Leaders, Designers, Developers, and Writers

Black Voices in Design and Technology