Published June 25, 2020
As the nation roils over its glaring inequities in racial justice, UB assistant professor of architecture Charles Davis II explores the connection of race and place in this contribution to the architectural history journal Aggregate.
"If we agree with recent protestors that Black lives matter, then we must also insist that Black spaces matter, for race and place have been indelibly linked in American history," argues Davis in the opening lines of his article. From Booker T. Washington and Robert Robinson Taylor's formation of the Tuskegee Institute into a living model of Black social uplift to the redlining of the early 20th century that created stark lines of racial segregation and disinvestment that persist today, deep historic connections exist between race and place.
Davis takes a particular look at the poet June Jordan, a Jamaican American essayist, teacher, and activist (1937-2002). In her writing she explored issues of gender, race, immigration, and representation. Known for use and celebration of Black English in her writing and poetry, Jordan explored Black spaces through an "ecosocial” lens, or an interpretation of the built environment as an extension and manifestation of human ecology.
Projecting optimisim for the future and the potential for change, Davis says: "It is precisely because of the rhetorical power that Black spaces hold over the public imagination that the current reassessment of Black life has so much potential."
Charles Davis II
Aggregate (a print and online publication of advanced research in architectural history and theory)