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BSA News

Jun 25, 2020

Addressing racial injustice in architecture and the BSA

Two weeks ago, a renewed fire spread through this country and in Boston to solve the injustices of racism due to yet another series of unjust killings within the black community. We vowed to be anti-racist in support of Black Lives Matter. We now call upon the BSA community to address the systemic racism within the design profession and our organization.

As architects, we must understand the role we play in perpetuating systems of oppression and commit ourselves to designing and building for equity. We must examine our responsibility to create lasting change. Our actions and inactions within the design education systems, firms, and professional organizations contribute to the systemic inequities that continue to exist. We must also examine the results of the work we do and how these perpetuate injustice and inequity in housing, transportation, education, and the systems that support our communities.

The profession of architecture is still dominated by white men of privilege at the exclusion of other identities and other voices. To create more just and inclusive spaces, those with experiences beyond whiteness and maleness must be involved in their creation. The intersections of race and architecture must increase by asking and analyzing difficult questions. We need to deepen our understanding and empathy through a critical examination of the legacies of racism that built much of this country, while also listening to and supporting our Black and people of color colleagues, peers, and friends. This increased knowledge and awareness must galvanize into collaborative action.

In 2018, a BSA Board Task Force developed a report addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion and opposing harassment in the profession and the BSA organization. Today, we are prioritizing and updating actionable strategies. The first step is to listen to and collaborate with those within the profession and our communities affected by the injustices and inequities of racism. A few key steps include:

  • Our commitment to include Black and people of color as presenters, panelists, and speakers at BSA programs and events.
  • We will host a series on race in architecture hosted by the 2020 and 2021 BSA Presidents Natasha Espada AIA and Greg Minott AIA. We will begin with a town hall in July, followed by a series of conversations inviting those in the profession and those in our communities affected by racism in design.
  • We have engaged with YW Boston who will offer its Stand Against Racism training for the Boards and staff. Our engagement with them will help us to become aware of our unconscious bias and ensure that the voices of Black people and people of color are fairly represented on our Boards and staff.
  • Our challenge to members, including the Knowledge Communities, is to join us in reviewing how the systems of architecture perpetuate racism. The BSA Ethics Committee is examining the AIA Code of Ethics to recommend steps to AIA National ensuring the alignment of professional values.
  • We renew the BSA’s repeated call to AIA National against architects’ involvement in the design of rooms of torture and death that perpetuate the inequities in the justice system.
  • We are organizing reviews of the frameworks of our codes, procedures, and practices to correct systems that propagate oppression and inequity.
  • Our commitment to offering the resources of architecture and design to address the racial inequities in Greater Boston communities will be a top priority. This includes providing access to design education to K-12 students and families, design resources, and knowledge to under resourced communities in our region to address the racial, gender, and other biases existing in our neighborhoods.
  • We will share directories of certified minority and women owned businesses, among others, as a resource for all to use for making more deliberate choices when choosing a designer.

We will follow up with specific dates and status in the coming weeks.

We encourage you to support those organizations committed to addressing the injustices of racism in our communities, including the design world. You can find a list of some of these organizations on our website, including the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and the Boston chapter BosNOMA, Black in Design, Hip Hop Architecture, and Who Builds Your Architecture.

Lastly, we invite you to join the BSA’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Network, a place for individuals in the design industry to engage in meaningful conversations; support, promote, and build awareness; and to share best practices related to issues of EDI within the profession.