Background Story

March 4-6, 2022

State of Black Design

Family Reunion

The State of Black Design


The design industry boasts wide-ranging, gainful career opportunities in fields, such as animation, UI/UX, architectural and interior designs. But professionals of color have been unable to launch careers in these fields. In 1991, the AIGA summary report "Why is Graphic Design 93% white? Removing barriers to Increase Opportunities in Design" found two percent of graphic designers were Black, four percent were Latino, six percent were Asian, and 2 percent identified as “other.” The 2019 AIGA design census found that the field is currently three percent Black.

“Despite the growing number of minority students entering college, they are not reflected in design-related fields,” Souza said. 

On Sept. 18, 2020, Texas State University's Communication Design program hosted "The State of Black Design," a two–hour, virtual discussion on YouTube Live, to examine the underlying causes of the underrepresentation of African Americans in the design.

“The goals of the first event were to explore the intersection of identity and practice and precisely why the design field has failed to attract African American students, how hegemony works, and spaces impacting professionals of color and potential improvement methods,” Souza said.

The YouTube event convened prominent Black design practitioners, activists, and academics, all exploring the intersection of identity and practice. Discussions were segmented into four focused panels: Industry, Pedagogy, Black Design Organizations, and Design Activism. Texas State's Common Experience and the School of Art and Design co-sponsored the event.

The discussion included topics, such as the Aunt Jemima brand and the rebranding of racist trademarks. Hegemony in design curriculum + workspace was also analyzed in the intersectionality of race, LGBTQIA+, Latinx, and disabled identities. The evening concluded by questioning whether the momentum around race is used by designers to also champion equity for other minority groups (including gender, sexual orientation, race and religion) and how designers can better function as advocates.

More than 3,600 people registered for the Youtube discussion, the largest livestream event registration in Texas State University’s history. The discussion had 2,071 live viewers, the second-largest livestream audience for an academic event for the university. Media mentions in The New York Review of Architecture, Ward 9 Great Neighborhoods, Eye Magazine, The Power Broker Magazine, In/Visible Talk and the Texas State Newsroom