Black History Month spotlight: empowering the Black design community

Leading Black designers share their thoughts on how the design world can better support the Black community.

Deepak Kanda
February 18, 2021
Inspiration

In honor of Black History Month, we’re focusing on learning how to better serve and empower the Black community — and transforming this learning into lasting action.

For this, we asked Black design leaders at companies like Apple, Twitter, Google, Complex, etc. about how the design world can better support the Black community.

Here’s what they said:

Jessica Gaddis, Product Designer @ Twitter 

Picture of Jessica Gaddis
“Remove barriers to entry, be aggressive about hiring, and allow Black designers the opportunity to speak about the craft and not just about diversity.”

Harrison Wheeler, Manager, Product Design @ LinkedIn

Picture of Harrison Wheeler
“Hire, nurture, and retain Black designers.”

Maya Ealey, Brand Designer @ Asana

Picture of Maya Ealey
“We have a systemic problem of policing black people’s access to education, the workforce, and physical spaces. My ask is to make space. Learn & practice ways to make space for current and emerging Black designers' voices and creativity.”

Michael Dedrick, UX Designer @ Google

Picture of Michael Dedrick
“As designers, we can hold companies accountable for providing safe and rewarding environments for talented people of color to get access to leadership positions and growth opportunities.”

Dorian Dargan, Human Interface Designer @ Apple

Picutre of Dorian Dargan


“We must dismantle long-standing Eurocentric aesthetic standards by elevating Black voices in art & design. This makes space for innovative creative work that addresses a broader swath of global customer needs.”

Aurélia Durand, Visual Artist, Animator & Illustrator

Picture of Aurélia Durand
“The lack of diversity in art and media is partially due to the fact that Black kids are not encouraged or empowered to be creative. We must change these systems to create more diverse representation in the industry.”

Peter Herbert, Visual Designer @ Figma

Picture of Peter Herbert
“Companies don’t have feelings. *You* have feelings. If your blackness is ‘too much’, if your ideas are overlooked, if you’re underappreciated, then leave. There are other places that will value you.”

Warren Cochrane, Art Director @ Complex 

Picture of Warren Cochrane
“There are so many brilliant Black designers and creators coming up behind us that may feel discouraged and underrepresented in corporate spaces. Our job is to ensure their paths are easier with the design and messaging we’re putting out today.”

Wes O'Haire, Product Design Lead @ Dropbox

Picture of Wes O'Haire
“Be highly intentional about seeking out the right mentors and sponsors. You can read all the articles and push all the pixels, but it's always people that give you the best feedback and opportunities."

Deepak Kanda

Social Media Manager at Webflow. And yes, my job is more than just sharing cat gifs (not really).

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