Racism Untaught is a research study focused on cultivating environments for people to explore antiracism and antioppressive design.

Racism Untaught applies a research process to assist participants in identifying racialized design and critically assessing anti-racist design approaches. Co-developed by Lisa Elzey Mercer and Terresa Moses.

Racism Untaught was originally developed due to an identified gap and opportunity for educators to foster conversations and learning environments focused on diversity, inclusion, and equity to ensure new ideas, critical thinking, and diverse forms of making.

We have iteratively improved upon the toolkit through working with our industry partners including Target, Spotify, PayPal, and Apple, and our academic partners including the University of Minnesota, University of Illinois, Parsons School of Design, Louisiana State University, and Auburn University.

This student was prompted with Robert Moses system of transportation he developed in the 1940s in New York City. The cards in this game divided out different powers and privileges to different plays. Making it impossible for some players to ever finish and for other plays to finish more easily.

This work is outlined as a case study in the Racism Untaught book.

This student analyzed the roadblocks set up in 1976 in Shaker Heights, Ohio. They were installed as traffic diverts or roadblocks at the request of neighborhood residents and were racially driven.  These roadblocks were setup near neighborhoods that were predominantly African American because of black migration into the suburbs during the 1960s. They were given the title of the Berlin Wall for Black people. The student created a booklet that informed people about the history of the roadblocks and the policies that keep them in place.

This student analyzed the experience of being asked, “Do you speak your native language?” Part of this students’ research was a graffiti wall where they asked participants: 1) Have you ever been stereotyped based on your perceived race? 2) What was your response to that stereotype? and 3) How would you rather be greeted? The factors gleaned from this research led the student to create a campaign focused on the question of what information we really need to know about each other to have a conversation.

This student analyzed the Bombay Chips Ad where Ashton Kutcher acts out numerous tropes that perpetuate stereotypes. The question that led their research was, how might we use design to educate uninformed communities to eliminate cultural microaggressions and cultural appropriation? The factors gleaned from this research led the student to create a mobile application that helps people identify and learn about cultural appropriation.

Firing Racism is a framework and toolkit that uses the design research process to identify racialized hiring practices and critically assess anti-racist hiring approaches. This project was developed by graduate students who were prompted by the panel, Erasure by Exclusion: How Art Schools and Institutions Uphold White Supremacy.

The research was conducted with university faculty members and informed the development of a series of prompts for university hiring committees to consider racial biases and how to account for these in the hiring process.

 Student Process Books