A Step Toward a More Equitable and Just GSD
The GSD establishes the Racial Equity and Anti-Racism Fund
The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others served as brutal reminders throughout 2020 that life in the U.S. is inherently and consistently different and disadvantaged for Black men and women. Notes on Credibility, a statement penned by members of the African American Student Union and Africa GSD in early June, compelled all of us to go beyond our initial empathetic solidarity to recognize our own complicities in sustaining forms of systemic racism. To address inequality at the GSD, we had to commit not just with words, but with meaningful action.
To that end, the GSD has established the Racial Equity and Anti-Racism Fund. The fund exists to raise awareness of how race, racism, and racial injustice affect society (with a focus on the design fields) and promote a culture of anti-racism at the GSD. Any current GSD faculty, student, or staff member is eligible to apply for these small grants, which support strategies that work at the individual, departmental, and institutional level.
“Every one of us is united by our shared interests—by our shared ability to rethink and shape what’s possible,” said Dean Sarah Whiting. “It includes considering how we live together in the world: how we live as individuals who cannot afford to think only as individuals; how we share collective spaces, physical and social infrastructures, and resources; and how our collective world can be more equitable, more sustainable, more just. The Racial Equity and Anti-Racism Fund is a step we at the GSD are taking toward that more equitable and just world.”
Successful proposals will increase awareness of race, racism, and racial injustice, and they will contribute to a culture of anti-racism at the GSD. Strategies may include promoting student access to academic and professional growth opportunities, boosting the inclusion of BIPOC guest speakers in GSD courses or events, and supporting recruitment at minority-serving institutions to advance the cultivation of a diverse student body.
The Racial Equity and Anti-Racism Fund serves as one action of a holistic approach to institutional transformation. The GSD has also introduced anti-racism trainings for faculty, staff, and students, along with courses that address structural racism and inequities across various scales, sites, and topics. Those courses included Toshiko Mori’s studio, House of Our Time, visiting faculty member Emmanuel Admassu’s After Property studio, Sierra Bainbridge’s studio, Seeking Abundance, and Michael Herzfeld’s Urban Ethnographies seminar.
These current and urgent topics are now squarely at our table. The GSD is committed to rising to the occasion, and we will continue to work in partnership with the full community to co-create a GSD where all can thrive and feel a sense of belonging.
Photo credit: Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging