Designing for Equity + Inclusion
In Fall 2020, I gave a presentation at Harvard's Graduate Design School for their Design Impact series. I discussed how the current design processes do not make space for Black, Indigenous or people of color. I find that one of the biggest obstacles to designing products, experiences, and services that are inclusive of Black, Indigenous, and people of color, is something called the White Default.
The White Default
We are living under a system where whiteness is the default, the baseline, the norm. When whiteness is the default, the pain points, voices, experiences, and needs of Black, Indigenous, and people of color become an afterthought. As white people enjoy a culture of belonging, BIPOC are continuously othered.
I believe we have an opportunity to disrupt this pattern through something I call Space-making. Through a series of critical race theory prompts inserted into the design thinking process, companies can evaluate if they are designing in the most equitable and inclusive way possible, or if they are simply centering the White Default.
A New World
Integrating prompts into the design process is powerful. If we do not listen to and learn from BIPOC communities who have been intentionally marginalized, we risk designing products that continue to default and center whiteness. We have the power to redesign the world in which we live by challenging our biased design teams.
When we defy the white default, we design services, experiences, and products that speak to Black, Indigenous and, people of color.