Statement Regarding Racial Violence in Our Communities
To the AIA Chicago Community:
This weekend was a difficult one for Chicagoans. Even as I write this, I understand that, for many, “difficult” has a more insidious meaning. For many, “difficult” means not having access to stable housing, food insecurity, and the constant threat of police violence. For many, it means that injustice is felt in every crevice of a person’s livelihood—and that injustice has been laid before us all.
Our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee has written a letter addressing AIA Chicago’s reactions to our current climate, understanding that what America is experiencing is not a limited event; rather, a reaction to generations of compounding inequities. The AIA Chicago Board of Directors would like to echo their sentiments and stand behind them as we move forward, together.
April Hughes, AIA
AIA Chicago Board President
Dear AIA Chicago community:
Chicago, with cities across the country, is grappling with a wave of social upheaval: notably from the COVID-19 pandemic along with the recent protests against police brutality. What has been made perfectly clear to us, not just as architects but as Chicagoans, is the prevalence of injustice within communities of color. None of this is new; for many, state-sanctioned violence is a fact of daily life in America, and has been for hundreds of years. And violence does not only encompass police brutality; it is evident in how we educate, house, feed, and transport our citizens.
From the most recent murder of unarmed citizen George Floyd, to the compounding effects of racism on Chicago’s housing, climate and transportation, we must begin by naming these injustices and, as citizens who possess power and privilege, work toward dismantling them. As architects, we seek not just to design buildings but to lead our own communities toward better lives. Many of our members currently experience first-hand injustice; many are addressing it through their work by focusing on redlining, environmental destruction, closed public schools and more. While much effort has been put toward diversifying our profession in the future, not enough energy, effort or resources have been dedicated to addressing systemic racism, including that in our own workplaces and neighborhoods, right now. We must collectively and individually look at the ways we have allowed injustices of past and present to fester in our own communities. It is now our responsibility to listen to those rising up to help them imagine and build a more equitable world and a more equitable profession. We begin by listening.
In the coming weeks the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee (EDI) will be publishing—online and in Chicago Architect magazine—writing we have solicited by those architects and design professionals working on the ground with communities most affected by injustices that intersect with the built environment. AIA Chicago understands that its power is in its platform, and as such we would like to give that power to those who are doing the work. It is not enough to denounce violence; we must commit ourselves to be accomplices in antiracist practices and conversations. This is only a first step, and a small one; on a journey toward a more equitable future, not for the few but for the many.
We stand with you,
Jennifer Park, AIA
Chair, EDI Committee
Natalie Hicks, AIA
Co-chair, EDI Committee
David Mulder, AIA
Co-chair, EDI Committee
Patricia Saldaña Natke, FAIA
Past-chair, EDI Committee
In preparation of an action plan, the EDI Committee will host a discussion series this summer, addressing issues raised at past open meetings. In addition to launching a Firm Assessment Toolkit, the EDI Committee will be continuing conversations about racial equity and injustice within the profession throughout the year.
If you would like to be involved in meetings and initiatives of the EDI Committee, please contact David Mulder at firstname.lastname@example.org.