Racial Reckoning in the Design World: Identifying New Canons and Icons with Shani Sandy
“In 2015, in the major design hub of New York City, 67% of the population was non-White, yet non-Whites made up only 29% of those employed in creative occupations.” This is just one of the disturbing and eye-opening statistics that Shani Sandy, a Berliner of Class 14, cited in her 2016 thesis entitled, “Is Designing with the Same Colors, Yielding the Same Old Design? – Investigating The Perspectives Of Black Graphic Designers In A Search for New Canons”. In recent months, discussions about structural racism have been spreading through organizations, communities and the media like wildfire. On the surface, the conversation appears to have quieted – but so many burning questions remain, so many statistics continue to stun, so much still needs to fundamentally change. It was the perfect time to hear from Shani about what the experience of Black design practitioners, such as herself, has been in the past, is currently and might become, given the optimal working conditions for their creativity and a less Euro-centric design curriculum that expands the definition of where design’s history starts, who its icons are and even how it should look.