Racism Untaught: Revealing and Unlearning Racialized Design
A powerful and proven guidebook that shows organizations how to recognize racism in designed artifacts, systems, and experiences—and how to replace them with anti-racist design solutions.
Anti-racist design interventions can be difficult. Well-intentioned conversations can fuel tensions, activate racialized trauma, and lead to misunderstandings, especially in spaces not typically focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Even when progress is made, white supremacy culture can resurface. We need anti-racist guidelines and approaches that lay bare racialized systems of oppression and fundamentally disrupt their replication. In Racism Untaught, Lisa E. Mercer and Terresa Moses, two veteran anti-racist educators, deliver this exact approach.
Mercer and Moses provide a step-by-step guide to anti-racist interventions in academic, business, and community settings that benefits all participants. Adapted from their successful workshop series and filled with concrete examples and ample case studies, their book teaches participants how to analyze design—and reimagine racialized artifacts, systems, and experiences guided by anti-oppressive principles. They demonstrate how to examine positionality within the context of racism and oppression; help us understand how design can reinforce and perpetuate oppression; and reveal the unique relationship among equity, ethics, and responsibility that constitutes the core value of an anti-racist design discipline. In Racism Untaught, Mercer and Moses provide the framework we need to unlearn racialized design practices and move more generatively toward collective liberation.
With a foreword by renowned designer Cheryl D. Miller, Racism Untaught is a valuable tool for anyone who wants to help themselves and their organization create an actionable and inclusive plan to dismantle racial oppression and instead realize equitable, anti-racist, and liberatory design.
About the Author
Lisa E. Mercer is Assistant Professor of Graphic Design and Design for Responsible Innovation at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Terresa Moses is Assistant Professor of Graphic Design and Director of Design Justice at the University of Minnesota and the Creative Director at Blackbird Revolt.