Standing Against Racism and Social Injustice: Resources and Recommendations that are Helping Us Grow.

Coughlin Porter Lundeen joined the statewide strike on Friday, June 12, closing our offices and making clear that we stand firmly against racism and social injustice of any kind. And while that day was an important one for reflection, peaceful action, and solidarity with the current movement, it’s only the beginning, the first of many steps we plan to take against racism, injustice and ignorance.

As the movement against racism and social injustice continues, we have a responsibility, as both individuals and an organization, to respond. But we are also responsible to make that response thoughtful, educated, and sincere.

Like many, we have much listening, learning, and growing to do. And like many, we’re grappling with questions like: Where do I start? How can I better understand our nation’s history of systematic racism? What does it mean to be a true ally to the Black community? What do I say to my kids? How do I bring my learnings to a workplace environment? Our team is actively seeking answers, getting educated, and doing our part as individuals to confront social and racial injustice. We feel accountable in our roles as parents, partners, leaders, neighbors, friends and Seattleites.

Here, we’ve assembled the top recommendations from our team – what we’re reading, watching, consulting and learning. Each item on the list was chosen by a member (or in many cases, by multiple members) of our team. Featuring everything from podcasts to prominent social voices, the collection is full of great resources and opportunities to learn. We hope that you find something on this list that will help you begin to create sincere change in your own lives.

Illustrations © Oh Happy Dani 2020. All rights reserved. View Dani’s work here and learn more about her craft.

What to Read / Watch

Books, articles, movies: tools that help us become more educated and understand perspectives beyond our own.

  1. White Fragility by Dr. Robin DiAngelo
    Topping out many recent bestseller lists, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism explores racial insulation and how white people in North America might build capacity in the ongoing work towards racial justice.
    Learn More
  2. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
    An influential book for more than two decades, The New Jim Crow makes clear the disruptive effects that the “war on drugs” and other “tough on crime” policies have had on Black and minority communities.
    Read More
  3. 13th and Dear White People
    Next time you’re browsing the Netflix menu, consider these two. 13th is a “thought-provoking documentary, scholars, activists and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom.” The Dear White People Netflix description reads,Students of color navigate the daily slights and slippery politics of life at an Ivy League college that’s not nearly as “post-racial” as it thinks.”
  4. Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
    Released by PBS, this four-hour documentary series explores the transformative years following the American Civil War.
    Read More
  5. I Am Not Your Negro
    A 2016 documentary film based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript Remember This House, I Am Not Your Negro explores the history of racism in the United States through Baldwin’s reminiscences of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as his personal observations of American history. It was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 89th Academy Awards and won the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary. Included with Amazon Prime.
  6. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    This profound work pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son. Coates shares the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world in a letter to his adolescent son.

Who to Follow / Learn From

Everything from social media accounts to podcasts.

    1. TEDTalks Playlist
      TED has curated a playlist “to help you understand racism in America.” From passionate pleas for reform to poetic turns of phrase, these talks take an honest look at everyday realities of Black Americans and illuminate the way forward.
      Learn More
    2. 1619 (Podcast)
      An audio series by The New York Times, 1619 explores how slavery has transformed America, connecting past and present through the oldest form of storytelling.
      Learn More
    3. Code Switch (Podcast)
      NPR’s Code Switch breaks down race and identity and its impact on the world. Hosted by journalists of color, this podcast uses storytelling to help listeners understand how race shapes politics, pop culture and many mediums in ways we’ve never realized.  Each episode dissects race issues and cultural shifts, tracking the uncomfortable conversations head on.
      Learn More
    4. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man (YouTube)
      Emmanuel Acho sits down to have an “uncomfortable conversation” in a safe space with white America, to educate and inform on racism, systemic racism, social injustice, rioting and the hurt Blacks are feeling today. A book of the same name will be released in November.
      Learn More
    5. The Great Unlearn by Rachel Cargle
      Curated by Rachel Cargle, whose activist and academic work explore the intersection of race and womanhood, The Great Unlearn is self-paced course featuring 30 days of exercises, prompts and #dothework exercises.
      Learn More

Resources for Families

There are lots of great tools to help parents talk to their children about racism, current events, and their responsibility as the next generation.

  1. A Kids Book About Racism
    We’ve written about the “A Kids Book About” series before (when they released a COVID-19 book), and it’s worth a mention here!
    Learn More
  2. Raising Anti Racist Kids: What to Say and Do
    Available on-demand, this virtual panel is a candid discussion for parents, equipping them to initiate conversations, answer tough questions, and lay the groundwork for change.
    Learn More
  3. Coming Together: Standing Up To Racism – A CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall For Kids and Families
    CNN and Sesame Street joined once again for another Town Hall to help kids and families discuss racism and the protests taking place nationwide, build empathy and embrace diversity.
    Learn More

Resources for Employers

Tools designed to bring change to the workplace.

  1. ASCE Diversity, Equity, Inclusion 
    Member Voices, a series of blog posts by members that address DEI.
    Learn More
  2. AIA Seattle’s Women in Design and Diversity Roundtable (WID + DRT): Conversations Towards An Equitable Practice
    A series of group discussions on building a more equitable architecture industry in Seattle and beyond. If you missed one of the discussions, recaps are provided. Resources include a link to AIA Guides for Equitable Practice.
    Learn More
  3. Taking Action at Work Part I: Bringing Folks In (aka Inclusive Recruitment)
    List of things companies can do to address common inclusion challenges around planning, employee recruitment and retention.
    Learn More
  4. Taking Action at Work Part II: Retaining your Diverse Team (aka Inclusive Retention)
    Tips on how to critically assess what’s up with retention at your organization.
    Learn More

We don’t have all the answers and our next steps aren’t perfectly defined. In addition to our commitment to foster a culture of openness and sharing, we’re pursuing the following as a team:

    • Empower our Employee Engagement Task Group to lead us forward via courageous conversations and suggestions to leadership.
    • Pursue training opportunities and renew our unconscious bias training (last completed in 2018).
    • Evaluate our recruiting strategies and explore scholarship opportunities, positioning ourselves to further support and mentor students and young engineers.
    • Collaborate with our AEC community, learning from one another and prioritizing forward progress.

We’re on this journey with you, our community. It’s essential to listen to, learn from, and inspire one another. Have ideas, resources or recommendations that you’ve found helpful? Please share them with us! We’d love to share with our team and add them to our list!