Racial inequity is historically and literally built into the country’s landscape—here’s how we can begin to fix that
In 2016, when Michelle Obama addressed the nation during a live broadcast from the Democratic National Convention, she said, “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.” Some listeners applauded her bold remarks, others were shocked; still others held out in their disbelief. There’s no question, however, that one of the very emblems of our nation, the White House—the seat of the highest office in the land, and arguably the world—was built using enslaved labor. Even if most history books don’t address it.
In so many ways, the built environment expresses who we are culturally and signals who holds power—those who have the money to make decisions can transform their ideas into their material surroundings. Since before the United States of America was even a nation, it was being constructed around a European worldview that was built on a hierarchy of racial inequity, explains Mabel O. Wilson, a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. As it grew, the U.S. constructed an image of its history through a particular lens, while disregarding its conquest of Indigenous people and its use of enslaved labor.
Building that identity of whiteness, says Wilson, “gives meaning to the culture—and all of that had to be invented,” which has informed our society, our systems, and even our democracy. “It’s not just about a feeling; it’s what builds the modern world,” adds the architect and author, who recently co-edited Race and Modern Architecture, which traces the discipline back to the Enlightenment. Today, racism and inequity are quite literally built into our culture.
For some of us, recognizing that revered emblems of our country actually represent the exploitation of one race for the benefit of another is difficult to hear and hard to admit; this inequity will be even tougher to repair. Yet acknowledging past injustice is a crucial step in rethinking, reframing, and restoring justice. “What would it mean to have an open conversation about people who are willing to talk about it that way?” asks Wilson.
A complex network of discriminatory policy and planning.
Read on >>>> Source: Architectural Digest Why Justice in Design Is Critical to Repairing America | Architectural Digest