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?
“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:
- Shop at Black-owned businesses (here’s a list he provided)
- “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
- The Black Experience in Graphic Design: 1968 and 2020
- Black Design in America, BIPOC Design History, facilitated by Polymode
- Emory Douglas’ Design Journey by AIGA
- Augusta Savage, Smithsonian American Art Museum
- Black Art: In The Absence of Light
Organizations, Meetup Groups, and Communities by Black Leaders, Designers, Developers, and Writers
- Black UX Collective
- OnE Philadelphia
- The Village of Arts and Humanities
- Black & Brown Founders
- Philly Tech Sistas
- Where are the Black Designers?
- Black Artists + Designers Guild
- Blacks Who Design
- Creative Reaction Lab
- Black Girls Code
- BIPOC Resources for Creatives from Shillington
Black Voices in Design and Technology
- David Dylan Thomas. Listen to his podcast and check out his book, Design for Cognitive Bias
- Wil Reynolds, VP Innovation at Seer Interactive
- Sylvester Mobley, CEO of Coded by Kids and recent guest on Understanding the Roots of Inequity; A Conversation about Tech Education
- Ashley Turner, Founder of Philly Tech Sistas and recent guest on Getting Past the “What Do We Do Now?” Conversation in Black and Brown Tech
- Michael O’Bryan, Founder of HumaNature and recent guest on Putting Humanity at the Center of Design
- Brenda Matos, Product Design Lead, REEF
- Natalie Nixon, Creativity Strategist, Keynote Speaker, and President, Figure 8 Thinking
- Erick Gavin, Senior Program Manager, Center for Black Innovation
- Jacquelyn Iyameh, Founder of the Black UX Collective
- Mitzi Okou, Interaction and Visual Designer, organizer of “Where are the Black Designers?” virtual conference
- Nancy Douyon, Global Design Ethicist & Product Philosopher
- Mariam Braimah, Product Designer at Netflix, Founder of Kimoyo Fellowship
- Dian Holton, Senior Deputy Art Director at AARP, Co-Programming Director of @aigadc
- Andrea Pippins, artist, design educator, and author
- Temi Coker, multidisciplinary artist
- Gail Anderson, designer, writer, and educator
- Maurice Cherry, creative strategist, designer, and digital creator
- Jon(athan) Key, artist, designer, writer, and Partner at Morcos Key
- Neka King, digital illustrator and muralist