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Design firms and the industry at large have discussed “equality of opportunity” as a remedy to systemic racism in America. Equality is not the solution; many students of color enter academia having experienced decades of economic and emotional trauma stemming from redlining, policing, environmental exploitation, pay inequity and more. They bring these burdens with them into the university environment, which ensures “equality” by providing students with the same toolkits for success without acknowledging those previous burdens…
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The first step toward equity is recognizing identity-based power and privilege differentials. The current protest movement has created a growing awareness in wider society about the everyday inequities of being Black in America. . . These small yet significant changes must happen in white-collar professional life, too, and this is where design firms can learn from current events to make a real systemic change in our industry for minority designers and architects. It’s a journey that SOM took after the murder of George Floyd in May.