Power, Privilege, and Inequity Resources for Design Classes

Benjamin Meyer


The Black Experience in Graphic Design: 1968 and 2020
Just over fifty years ago, at the apex of the civil rights movement in the US, Dorothy Jackson interviewed five Black designers about “the frustrations and opportunities in a field where ‘flesh-colored’ means pink”. The article for Print was perhaps the first in the mainstream trade press to directly address the impacts of racism in the profession and describe the experience of Black practitioners in their own words. What has changed since then? What remains the same? We asked today’s design leaders to compare their experience to the 1968 discussion and imagine what’s next.

Design | A brief history of how racism manifests itself in design and how we can learn from it 
However, since its inception, user centered design has paved the way for racial biases to manifest themselves in consumer products and designers have become beholden to practices that allow such manifestations. We saw it in the 70’s when Kodak coated it’s film to favor white skin tones and we still see it today, with the technology sector being no exception. Let’s take a look at some more recent examples of this.

Eye on Design: Women make up over half of the design industry – why are there so few on top? 
AIGA article: We talked to some of the most formidable women in design who are working to give others a leg up

Applying Racial Equity Awareness in Data Visualization


The Politics of Design
Many designs that appear in today’s society will circulate and encounter audiences of many different cultures and languages. With communication comes responsibility; are designers aware of the meaning and impact of their work? An image or symbol that is acceptable in one culture can be offensive or even harmful in the next. A typeface or color in a design might appear to be neutral, but its meaning is always culturally dependent. If designers learn to be aware of global cultural contexts, we can avoid stereotyping and help improve mutual understanding between people.

Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility 
What does it mean to be a designer in today’s corporate-driven, overbranded global consumer culture? Citizen Designer, Second Edition, attempts to answer this question with more than seventy debate-stirring essays and interviews espousing viewpoints ranging from the cultural and the political to the professional and the social. This new edition contains a collection of definitions and brief case studies on topics that today’s citizen designers must consider, including new essays on social innovation, individual advocacy, group strategies, and living as an ethical designer. Edited by two prominent advocates of socially responsible design, this innovative reference responds to the tough questions today’s designers continue to ask themselves, such as:

  • How can a designer affect social or political change?
  • Can design become more than just a service to clients?
  • At what point does a designer have to take responsibility for the client’s actions?
  • When should a designer take a stand?


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Diversity and Social Justice - Faculty Guide (2021 Edition) Copyright © 2021 by Benjamin Meyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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