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Observations | Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusion in the World of Design

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“We are living in a chilling yet thrilling time in history. Much like my childhood in the ‘60’s, there is desperation, yet determination. Again, it will be fueled by individual passions that ignite group action for the greater good. Social change was made then and I believe change will be made now. I am proud to have Bailey Edward be a part of this wave of social action and even prouder to see my staff lead us to enact change in and through our community of designers.” -Ellen Bailey Dickson

Design drives to shape the built world to be healthier, more equitable spaces that respond to the needs of all who reside within them. Our duty as members of the design community is to listen to the needs of our community members and cultivate solutions that will improve the lives of all those that encounter our designs. These solutions must make a positive change to the current systems that oppress, exclude and silence people of color in this country. Design can and should contribute to a new vision for communities that is free from oppression and systemic racism

As designers, we have a social and legal responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. With this social contract in mind, we need to understand what parts of the system we work within do not properly include American people of color as full members of our society. Kimberly Dowdell, NOMA National President: 2019-2020 stated, “Today, NOMA must call for more. As an organization, we must BE more.” This statement must reach the far corners of our profession. No longer can we be idle. We must all BE more in our fight against racial injustice. This is the time to speak out and create change.”

Here at Bailey Edward, we are listening and learning. Internally, we have created a working group to discuss and combat unknown biases that may exist individually and within the firm so that individually and together we have the tools and knowledge to be better allies. To start the conversation, we are building a list of resources from clients, friends, and colleagues to share within our company that will bring awareness. With this awareness, whether newly cultivated or merely refined, we can move to discovering how we can effect change in our firm, through our profession, and in our communities.

We’d love to hear from you. If you have found other helpful resources, significant works of architecture and design, educational writings or films, please reach out to us on social media or email us. Bailey Edward has made a commitment to cultivate an environment of growth and positive change in ourselves and the profession. As a design community, we all are responsible to spread knowledge and truth in our fight towards social justice. Join us in making this time remembered for its thrilling and momentous change.


Ellie Selzer is a designer at Bailey Edward who is passionate about social justice and is leading our new internal Working Group, Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity. Her passion to explore and meet new people brought her from Virginia to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain to study Architecture.