We at AIGA Boston do not stand for hate. We recognize the pivotal role design has in shaping culture and opinion and will use that power with equity and grace.
One year after the murder of George Floyd, a lot about the world has changed. We’ve seen the conviction of Mr. Floyd’s murderer in what was one of the painfully rare instances of law enforcement accountability. We’ve seen marches and protests worldwide demanding an end to systemic racism and police accountability. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has passed in the House. Boston now has its first black mayor. Three COVID vaccines are now available, allowing us to begin sharing physical spaces with our family, friends, and colleagues. We’ve had meaningful difficult conversations around the dinner table, in board rooms, with our kids and beyond that will hopefully help set us on a better path.
The art and design communities’ response to the call for racial justice and inclusion is heartening. We have been inspired by all of the webinars, art installations, websites, books, illustrations, motion graphics, films, workshops and more. We attended inspiring events like The History of Black Women In Graphic Design and Black Designers: Past Present Future. We took courses about Black Design in America. We’ve incorporated thinking from field guides for advancing racial equity. We read important articles including The Black Experience in Graphic Design: 1968 and 2020 and re-read Black Designers: Missing in Action (1987). Sesame Street built on its legacy of inclusion by adding two black characters, a father and son. Here in Boston, we saw the development of grant programs for ALAANA+/BIPOC creatives like Radical Imagination for Racial Justice and honorariums for artists actively “exploring themes of racial justice”. Please keep sharing your stories and your talent. We are all watching and listening.
Sadly, in the past year we’ve also seen an appalling spike in hate speech and hate crimes. Massachusetts and greater New England have witnessed a sharp increase in hate propaganda. From the death of Henry Tapia, to the attempted murder of Erik Rudder and his two sons, to racial slurs appearing on walls and sidewalks in our communities, Boston and the greater region continue to struggle with maintaining spaces where all can live, work, and play without fear. The insurrection on January 6th is now emblazoned into the national psyche as a day of national shame and embarrassment. Despicable attacks on the Asian community continued to swell through the spring. The most recent wave of anti-Semitic hate crimes in the past month is frightening. Despite all that has happened and all we now know through credible news channels, more unjustified assaults and deaths of black and brown people at the hands of the police continue to occur. Although COVID vaccines are widely available, an insidious system of misinformation is causing far too many not to take it, putting our most vulnerable at risk.
While it is encouraging that so many are brave enough to report crimes, stand up for themselves, speak out for others, and provide comfort and support to one another in these very challenging times, we must do better. Our current practices are not sustainable. As a community, we need to educate ourselves on the valuable diversity of our friends, neighbors, and colleagues, hold our representatives accountable, and vote in local AND national elections. As designers, we need to proactively transform the systems that have caused so much pain and chaos. We are builders and makers of any future we want to envision. This is a call for all of us to do better. The world needs more from us and we can do better. Your voice makes a difference. You make a difference.
The AIGA Boston Board of Directors is happy to say that we continue our commitment to building a more accessible, equitable, inclusive design community. We’ve offered free programming throughout the year, providing valuable opportunities for professional development and broader design discussions. We have continued to focus on recruiting speakers from diverse backgrounds and making sure our board truly represents our community. We’ve been sharing engaging stories and connecting with all of you through surveys, meetings, social media, and beyond. We have a lot more work to do, but we’re proud of the work that we have done. As always, thank you for your support and standing with us.
We remain steadfastly committed to a more inclusive, sustainable, accessible design industry. During our upcoming programming season and beyond, you’ll see the following:
- Free virtual programming on topics like mental wellness for creative professionals, decolonizing design history, and how to develop equitable hiring practices
- Continuing to keep art accessible to the public through our Open Air Museums and featuring more local artists and designers working for social justice and inclusion on our social media channels and website
- Advocacy for emerging designers through our mentorship programming, portfolio reviews, and time from volunteering professionals
- Revisions to our chapter charter to ensure it reflects the values of our members and organization
- Collaborations with our public institutions including (but not limited to) Boston Public Schools and the City of Boston
- The development of an honorarium expanding our ability to access an even bigger pool of incredible speakers and presenters
- Continuing to curate and share resources with a focus on underrepresented communities
- Presenting insights from our community survey, including the demographics of our design community
- When our in-person programming returns, holding events in more neighborhoods around greater Boston ensuring that all are accessible by public transportation
This list will continue to grow and evolve over the summer. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please reach out to Catherine Headen, Co-director of Diversity & Inclusion, catherine [at] boston.aiga.org
Don’t lose sight of or forget George Floyd, the man who is at the core of this remembrance day. He was essential in the lives of many. A son. A brother. A father. His life was valuable. His life is valuable. In honor of Mr. Floyd and the fight for justice, we encourage you to reflect on this past year. How has your life changed? What are you going to make space for this year to improve the community around you? We’ve posted prompts throughout the week for deeper reflection and the opportunity to share your wisdom, questions, resources, and anything that’s on your mind.
We stand with each of you. This is a space where you are seen and heard.
Black lives matter. Stop AAPI hate. Be an ally.
Stay strong and stay safe,
The AIGA Boston Board of Directors