This week on Wednesday at noon Central Time, the IALD is hosting a webinar to address the impact of racism on our industry. This will (hopefully) be the start of a longer conversation filled with action items - what can we actually do to improve our industry by making it inclusive and welcoming to a diverse population?
When Edward Bartholomew and Nelson Jenkins asked me to join this panel, the first words out of my mouth were, "I might say the wrong thing. Don't get me wrong - I'm passionate about this topic. It's close to my heart, but I'm still learning how to be Anti-Racist." Edward graciously answered that we are all still learning and Nelson welcomed me to the panel. I have already learned during the short time we have been preparing for this webinar.
Why would I want to be on this panel? I believe that justice and equity are human rights. I also believe that designers can apply our creativity to solving issues of social injustice. As a kid, I often felt left out. We've all been there, right? I remember that feeling, and I hated it. Because of that, I have always tried to be inclusive.
As a human, I care about how others are treated.
I care about how they feel.
I care about people.
I care about my seven-year-old niece who is the princess of our family. She was born in Ethiopia and adopted at eight months old. She is spunky and smart. I want everyone to see that about her and love her as much as I do. I want her to have access to every opportunity that my nephew and my sons will have. And I absolutely don't want anyone to hurt her or judge her based on her gender or the color of her skin.
Let me ask the white people reading this...when was the last time you were in the minority? When have you gone to a meeting or a store or just driven down the street and noticed that you were the only white person around? Can you honestly say you were comfortable in that situation? Okay, now reverse that and you might begin to imagine how Black lighting designers feel. At a lighting conference about 15 years ago, I happened to notice that nearly everyone in the room was old, white, and male. A few years later, an Emerging Professional approached me and said, "This is awkward, but I feel like I can talk to you...are there any Black people in this industry?" My truthful answer had to be that there aren't many, but then I proceeded to introduce her to as many people as I could to make her feel welcome.
This conversation is long overdue.
Since the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, many in the lighting industry have condemned social injustice and racism. Many in the lighting community have even issued diversity and inclusion statements.
Action is also overdue.
I hope everyone who has been speaking out will join this Webinar.
Help us discuss ways to move into action and make positive change in our industry!
Lisa J. Reed, lighting designer and Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC