This week’s episode of the Good Company podcast means so much to me, because it touches on two of the topics that mean the most to me: inclusivity and advocacy. It’s no secret that in my almost 15 years of running Design*Sponge, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. It took me a long time to recognize and own how problematic my behavior was and the lack of inclusivity and representation I was perpetuating here on the blog. The learning and improvement process is a lifelong one, but I’m so thankful for our team and community here for their patience as we work hard every day to know better and do better.
I’m so grateful that there are so many people in the creative community who are working to build resources that celebrate and highlight underrepresented voices and talents in our community. One of those resources is People of Craft, a website dedicated to showcasing creatives of color in design, advertising, tech, illustration, lettering, art, and more. People of Craft was co-founded by Amélie Lamont and Timothy Goodman and this week I’m sharing the conversation we had about the platform they built (and why they built it together), the difference between diversity and inclusion, why the world needs more advocates (rather than allies) and why all design is inherently political. I learned so much from their conversation and am so grateful for the hard work Amélie has done online discussing these issues and providing resources for potential allies/advocates and those who have had their work or choices called out in public.
The time and work that goes into a resource like People of Craft is significant and what it contributes to the greater creative community is so important. I’m so thankful that Amélie and Timothy shared their time with us today. You can listen to our conversation below or download the transcript here. xo, Grace
“I told my mom that I wanted to go to school for art and she basically was like, ‘I did not come to America and struggle for all this time for you to become a starving artist’.” (Amélie, 02:23)
“Amélie’s been great to me because she’s been a sounding board. So maybe I want to say something or I want to go about something, I might say something like, “Hi, what do you think about this?” Just to make sure I’m being sensitive about it and not overlooking something. Because as we know a lot of people with great intentions will talk about these kind of things and fall short.” (Timothy, 09:32)
“A white creative can move through society without ever having their identity touched upon. Even if they do have different intersections of identity, whether it’s queerness or different gender identities like sexuality, et cetera. Because they are white they are still offered this ability to not have to focus on their identity. And the thing about whiteness too is that the other identities that you have, they’re not visible unless you choose to speak about them. So it’s very easy to move through the world even if you do have struggle. Whereas as a black woman in particular people look at me and see woman and race and all these things and they start to make assumptions.” (Amélie, 11:23)
“I’m a person who is totally willing to accept my faults. I know what it’s like to be problematic and then be defensive about it, as so many people are. So I came to a place where I accepted that. And you have [to] understand that accepting that you have privilege in the world does not make you a bad person. Recognize those privileges. Accept them. Talk to people about them. And try to evolve and grow.” (Timothy, 15:03)
“You don’t really get to dictate how a marginalized individual expresses the pain and suffering through which your actions are causing them.” (Amélie, 17:12)
“In terms of wanting to do better, and wanting to be an ally, or I would like to say rather, wanting to be an advocate, it means actually stepping in there, and like, taking on some of the burden as your own.” (Amélie, 28:38)
“It’s about holding myself accountable, first and foremost. Me, as a cis white guy. Like, what am I actually doing. And then, what are the men in my life doing? And in my community doing? Amélie and I have talked about this. She could be saying all these poignant things but if I say it, then the white guys might listen. Or engage in respectful conversation with me.” (Timothy, 30:56)
“Regardless of who you are as a white person, I think you need to take responsibility, especially when talking about the design community, because designers in general tend to shy away from conflict. They believe that design is not political or that the work that they’re doing is not political. But every single action that we take is biased and political, whether you want it to be or not.” (Amélie, 34:36)
“I think for [white people] it’s twofold. And I know that like maybe for some listeners they might hear it and feel that’s unfair — that’s twice the work. Well too bad, this is what we’ve been dealing with for hundreds of years. So it’s time for you to do twice the work because we’re always doing twice the work.” (Amélie, 37:19)
“I’m constantly reminding myself that intention does not necessarily translate to understanding because intention can’t be seen and intention is just something that you hold within yourself. So just trying your best to be transparent and talking about what you want to do, but then also listening to feedback that you receive.” (Amélie, 39:49)