SXSW Interactive 2015

Where Are The Black Designers?


In 1991, Brenda Mitchell-Powell wrote a report called "Why is Graphic Design 93% White? Removing Barriers to Increase Opportunities in Graphic Design". And now, nearly 25 years later, we're still trying to come up with the answer.

Diversity is a hot topic in the design community. Conferences promise to do better every year after unveiling all-White speaker panels. Design-driven companies in Silicon Valley like Twitter report only 2% of their US-based employees are Black. And between magazines, podcasts, and other media, the field of design can look like a monoculture.

How do we fix this? Can we fix this? And what is the overall benefit of diversifying the design industry? Maurice Cherry will explore these questions and more in this session.

He'll share information distilled from dozens of interviews with Black designers of all stripes, and attendees will walk away with information they can use to diversify their companies, conferences, departments, or meetups.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. Why does the issue of diversity keep re-surfacing every year without real, sustainable solutions?
  2. How do we diversify the design industry in a way that doesn't look like "affirmative action" or "tokenism"?
  3. What do Black designers (or designers of color, in general) want from the design community?
  4. How can I attract design talent from underrepresented groups?
  5. Is solving the "pipeline problem" a viable method for ensuring a diverse future design industry?



Maurice Cherry, Creative Principal, 3eighteen media

Meta Information:

  • Tags: diversity, culture
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Solo
  • Track: Design and Development
  • Track 2
  • Level: Advanced

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