How We Used Our UX Team Meeting to Start an Important Dialogue
A designer shares her perspective on how we can — and must — all speak up and take action together against injustice
Our UX team meeting was different this week, as it took place after the country was sent reeling from the murder of George Floyd. I, like others, was sitting with the heaviness of the events that transpired over the last week and was left wondering, How I can help? What can I do right now that will make a difference?
So, I dove in. I started within my friend circle, following their responses and reactions on social media. In the process, I started to listen and share perspectives and points of view of black, indigenous, and people of color. I was trying to understand what the black community was feeling right now. I began actively seeking information outside of mainstream news. I protested.
And something started happening. I began talking about race more than I ever had before. I realized that more listening, more discussion, and most importantly more action need to take place. And they must happen now.
I was unsure how to start a conversation with my coworkers, not because I work for a company that isn’t supportive or inclusive, but because conversations on race can be uncomfortable. So, when I heard we would be switching our UX meeting up a bit, I was relieved:
Usually, we do a roundtable update, critique project work, and generally catch up as a team. Today, we expressed frustration, uncertainty, and confusion. Wanting to be action-driven, we began to roughly brainstorm and talk through some ways that we as a design team can be more inclusive.
A few ideas came up:
- Diversifying mentorship programs by reaching out to organizations that support the black community
- Looking for global/cultural design standards to incorporate into our best practices
- Making sure design validation has a diverse group of participants every time
But it didn’t feel quite right to me; it felt like maybe we had missed a step, though I think the above is a great start. We should absolutely use our strengths and areas of expertise to take action within our company and the design community.
As designers, we go through a process: we discover, we empathize, we ideate, we validate. We have to put ourselves in our users’ shoes. But how can I, a white person with privilege, empathize with the black community right now when I will never really fully understand what they’ve experienced throughout life? How can we be the best allies to people of color — and subsequently the solutions that we create — if we don’t first start with the internal discovery work that’s required of each of us?
Empathy is in our job descriptions. Our solutions ultimately stem from this and will help guide us toward solutions for change. It is mandatory that we as a community must first listen, educate ourselves, and take ownership in the fight against racism. That UX meeting housed a space for much-needed discussion.
I’m grateful to help continue the conversation, because it’s just the start. There is still so much more work to be done.
I’d like to share the start of a resource list that our team is creating:
- A valuable lesson from Jane Elliott and her blue eyes/ brown eyes experiment
- The anti-racist reading list, courtesy of Book People
- 5 do’s and don’ts for discussing racism at work
- Find where you land in the left column and review the resources and action items that coincide
- Rachel Cargle’s course: The Great Unlearn
- Scene on Radio: Seeing White
- Racism Untaught
- Get involved with a great community that’s interested in connecting people to the issues of today while providing resources to move us to action
- A great site to check policies that are causing over-policing in your city
- Campaign Zero
- Resistance funds donation list
- 15 of Austin’s top black-owned restaurants
- Black-owned businesses to support in Austin