Published September 9, 2020
The School of Architecture and Planning is coninuing its efforts to listen, plan, reflect and act toward racial justice in our School, surrounding community and professions through a number of new initiatives launching this fall.
Next week, the School opens its 2020-21 Lecture Series as a dedicated yearlong conversation on racial justice in our disciplines and the broader impacts that the work of architects and urban planners have on historically disenfranchised communities.
"Toward Racial Justice" opens Sept. 16, 2020, with a symposium organized by Charles Davis II, "Rewriting 'American Architecture': Recovering Black Narratives of Space." Other participating faculty from UB include Erkin Ozay and Henry Taylor and a symposium organized by UB's African American Students of Architecture and Planning. The Bethune Lecture this year will be presented by Jennifer Newsom of the University of Minnesota and Dream The Combine. Jeffrey Lowe, from Southern Texas University's urban planning program, will explore African American urban planner and their efforts to build inclusion into the profession.
On Sept. 22 and Sept. 29, the School will host two training workshops for faculty and staff in support of empowering, just and collegial learning and work spaces. Presented by UB's Center for Diversity Innovation, the training sessions will help employees address implicit bias and microaggressions in the workplace.
These steps are only the beginning of our journey
toward a more just racial future for our School and professions.
Other recent and ongoing activities include:
Dear SAP students,
Achieving racial equity and justice is a crucial commitment of the School of Architecture and Planning community. Since our last communication, our School of Architecture and Planning community has been listening, reflecting, planning, and responding to urgent and renewed conversations about racial inequities in our School, professions, and society-at-large. Within the last four to five weeks, we have had multiple discussions with over 100 individuals of our school community, including faculty, students, alumni, and school leadership, who have clearly and unequivocally affirmed the need to act in unity and with decisive action to persistent racial inequities.
Our school community has the opportunity to demonstrate leadership in fostering racial equity. We are sharing with you a brief update of short-term and long-term plans and actions in process. These plans and activities build on commitments our School made in our 2019-2024 strategic plan, as well as renewed commitments resulting from conversations in recent weeks. The School’s obligations are also in concert with a courageous and timely call to action by our students and alum and affirmed by our faculty and school leadership. Following recent school-wide conversations, student and alumni leaders have shared the following observation about the School: “leadership has been honest, open, and receptive to our critical assessment of the School’s insufficient institutional commitment to racial equity. We are encouraged to learn how our recommendations align with pre-existing efforts and appreciate the work being done by others to that end. That said, we, as students and alumni, have a responsibility to hold the School accountable to these goals and will continue to apply pressure and leadership to further advance racial equity in our own education.”
Indeed, we look forward to working with all of our students on shared accountability and leadership that furthers racial equity in our School, professions, and society. Noted below are specific actions the School of Architecture and Planning will undertake. These steps are only the beginning of our journey toward a more just racial future for our School and professions.
1. Lecture series: Toward Racial Justice
Curated by Samina Raja and Joyce Hwang
Includes programming for fall 2020 and spring 2021
Features student participation and a symposium by African American Students of Architecture and Planning
2. Structural racism and COVID, police violence: perspectives from Henry Taylor –
- Taylor, PhD, is a professor of urban and regional planning and the founding director of the Center for Urban Studies in the UB School of Architecture and Planning. His research focuses on a historical and contemporary analysis of underdeveloped urban neighborhoods, social isolation, and race and class issues among people of color.
- Taylor is quoted throughout national media on disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color
- Viewpoint piece published in NBC’s Think addresses racially motivated police aggressive in relation to white in-migration in cities which leads to dangerous encounters between Blacks and police
3. Legacies of racism in built environment: Charles Davis
- “Black Spaces Matter” published in architectural history journal Aggregate, examines historic legacy of race and place, 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 Racial Equity Roundtable
- His forthcoming book Race and Modern Architecture offers a welcome and long-awaited intervention for the field by shining a spotlight on constructions of race and their impact on architecture and theory in Europe and North America and across various global contexts since the eighteenth century.
View a reading list on Race and Justice available on UB's Architecture and Planning library website. The list was compiled by Madelaine Britt and Enjoli Hall of the UB Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab in preparation for a visit in 2017 by scholar and activist john powell, director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at Berkeley University.