Justice, Equity : Diversity and Inclusivity

JE:DI Collective

The mission of AIA Houston’s Justice, Equity: Diversity, Inclusivity Collective (JE:DI) is to dismantle the barriers that have inhibited the growth of our profession and our community. The JE:DI Collective seeks justice, builds equity, promotes diversity, and fosters a culture of inclusivity.

JE:DI Collective Meetings
The JE:DI Collective meets the first Wednesday of every month from 12-1pm.

FIELD NOTES

is a curated selection of multi-media resources to support personal and organizational goals towards the advancement of justice, equity, diversity and inclusivity within the architecture, design and allied professions.
 

 

BOOK
How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Recommended by Ann Rosenwinkel, AIA:
Architects will appreciate the tight and elegant structure of this clearly written, thought provoking read that instructs a wide audience on what it means to fight racism. Ibram X. Kendi begins each chapter by literally defining racism and anitracism as it relates to topics such as Biology, Ethnicity, Color, Body, and Space. The concise introduction to these subjects become repeating and rhythmic call to action. His thesis that racist power engenders racist ideas is elucidated through a span of personal stories to fresh historical information. I found this dive into the history of the sources of racism connected to intimate stories to be a healthy challenge to my white lady safe and limited narrative. He effectively demonstrates how seductive ideas such as integration and assimilation are fundamentally racist and as harmful to black bodies as lynching. The vulnerability in his stories of his own racism and cowardice from his early life allows the reader to crack open their own hearts to hear his message that we can grow beyond this problematic, false construct. As such, it is a powerful, poetic manual for those of us living in a culture that is clearly infused with racism.

 

PODCAST
Stitcher: Reframing America's Race Problem

Recommended by Melvalean Mclemore, AIA:
You ever hear the name for an idea or concept you were already familiar with, but you were unaware there was even a term for it? And once you learned the name you felt a little more complete? Well, that’s how I felt after listening to this almost hour-long episode in which Vox’s Sean Illing spoke with Heather McGhee, author of The Sum of Us, to discuss the “Zero Sum Game”. The gist of this game, or better yet paradigm, involves an irrational belief that a person or group’s potential gain must be at the expense of a better situated person or group. And, often, the better advantaged work to ensure the lesser advantaged fails to make progress but doesn’t realize the benefits they too ultimately forfeit in the process. Everyone loses when they all stood to win.

In this conversation, the two talk about the Zero-Sum game in terms of race in America, as well as our current state of affairs economically. How did we get to this point? Is it too late to change course? Illings lays it out all on the table and McGhee, who has committed a great many years of research to get to the roots of our discontent, still manages to stay optimistic about our future. And honestly, I found her matter of fact thinking combined with her sense of hopefulness refreshing.

It’s a great conversation that will leave you thinking. And if you are undecided about checking out her book this is a great place to start. After months of delay, I purchased mine immediately after listening!

 

BOOK
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Recommended by Tyler Detiveaux:
I am thankful I came across this book while browsing for my usual fare of sci-fi/fantasy. America was beginning to have some difficult conversations with itself about racism and its pervasiveness in our society. These topics are difficult and nuanced, and I, as a sheltered white man, did not even know where to begin. Ijeoma Oluo brilliantly walks the reader through her own life and the impact that racism has had upon her personal development. She then expertly breaks down, chapter by chapter, the many facets of racial politics, ranging from questions on affirmative action to the school to prison pipeline. By the end of the book, I had a profound, new perspective on the realities that millions of people face every day, and a level of empathy that I had only thought I had before. This book opened my eyes to such a wide range of topics while Oluo’s concise and sharp writing remained engaging throughout. These topics are not only discussed but are paired with action items and breakdowns of commonly used arguments to fully illustrate how and why these conversations need to happen. I believe this to be a great beginning resource to anyone interested in anti-racism literature as it will serve as an excellent building block to expand upon.




BOOK
Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong


Recommended by Anzilla Gilmore, FAIA, NOMAC:
Minor Feelings, is the autobiography of a Korean American poet from California.  Her nonlinear story is presented as a stream of conscious narrative that jumps between critical points in her life and stories about her family strung together with significant historical references to the lives of Asian Americans and African Americans living in this country and abroad. Aside from the surprising connections, I found between her life and my own, I was impressed by her ability to tell her story while educating the reader about the history of race in this country. Park Hong is unapologetic in her storytelling, presenting stories of racism while unpacking the history behind stereotypes, bigotry and this country’s history of discrimination.

I found myself completely engrossed in Park Hong's life story but compelled to stop reading to research her historical references.  I was excited to gain new knowledge and eager to return to her story to learn more. Everyone that has faced discrimination can relate to her stories.  And those that cannot relate will be rewarded with dozens of sometimes little-known facts plucked from the history of the United States and its relation to immigrants and minorities born in the United States.  Minor Feelings is an outstanding book and definitely worth reading.


 


PODCAST
Tangible Remnants by Nakita Reed

Recommended by Julie Trinh, AIA, NOMA, NCARB:
Tangible Remnants remains one of my favorite podcasts discovered during the pandemic.  Hosting the show is Nakita Reed, a Maryland-based Black female Architect.  Through personal research and casual conversation, Reed investigates the relationship between architecture, historic preservation, and sustainability as it relates to the complex subject of race and gender.  She explores narratives as specific as Levittown, and broad as those arising from Colonialism.  I admire Ms. Reed’s ability to have an unapologetically open and honest dialogue on a topic that can be so daunting for some – she reminds us of the places we create for people, but also that people are at the root of creating places.




BOOK
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone by Heather McGhee

Recommended by Donna Kacmar, FAIA:
Melvalean McLemore recommended this book to me and I am recommending it to all! McGhee writes a hopeful book about what we have in common. She proposes that we can all prosper together by recognizing how unfair policies, privatizing infrastructure, and racializing capitalism negatively impacts many groups of Americans. She suggests we aim for a “solidarity dividend” to work together to invest in public goods that benefit all. Her ideas are supported by multiple economic and policy references. McGhee recognizes that we need each other to work towards these shared goals and that with a variety of solutions we can rebuild the narrative for this country. The book is heavily researched (one quarter of the book’s pages are devoted to notes and references!), fully describes some of what has led to our current tragic situation, yet offers guidance towards a positive future for us. One of the many powerful things I learned from the book is that Dallas is collaborating on the Truth, Racial Healing &Transformation (TRHT) process supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that seeks to remove the “hierarchy of human value”. Read the book, look into their resources (https://healourcommunities.org), and learn what our neighbors to the north are doing that we can emulate (https://dallastrht.org)!


 

CHILDREN’S BOOK
I’d Like the Goo-Gen-Heim by A.C. Hollingsworth

Recommended by Florence Tang, Assoc. AIA,NOMA, LEED GA:

With wonder and imagination, this beautiful children’s book is filled with astute observations and watercolor sketches by A.C. Hollingsworth and tells the story of a little boy named Andy’s magical visit to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Hollingsworth, an artist, professor and one of the first African American comic book illustrators, produced a series of paintings illustrating its various building stages in the 1950s. He was born in Harlem and graduated from the City University of New York with a fine arts degree. His paintings depicted the civil rights movement, women, New York City and jazz. His works from 1960-1970 are housed at the Smithsonian.

I picked up a hard copy of his book on a trip to the museum a few years ago as a gift for my children who were delighted to read about the adventure of a curious little boy as he experienced this part of the city with its modern art and architecture. We all learned how to say the name of the spiral ramp museum: “Goo-Gen-Heim.”