Our own Brian Dodo is featured on the Association of Registered Graphic Designers website.
What are the ways in which you experience racism in the design industry?
When I moved to Canada, I found the design industry to be quite supportive. I made some good contacts early on and joining the RGD helped. Most of those contacts have been quite instrumental to where I am today. Designers (both black and white), Sabaa Quao, Wayne McCutcheon, Peter Gabany and Martyn Schmoll were very supportive and we are still friends.
However, even in situations that are supportive, you always find some people who don’t give you the opportunity to contribute or take a moment to listen and understand what you have to say. Of course, depending on which angle you look at it, sometimes you can see it’s race-based. I’ve faced these kinds of situations in the past, where you attend an interview and you notice people are suddenly not as receptive as they were on the phone. In most cases it’s subtle. I remember one time I was on an interview committee, I ran into one of the candidates in the elevator and she immediately moved as far as she could from me and clutched her purse tight. She didn’t realize who I was and when she saw me on the interview panel she was so embarrassed and tried to apologize.
When you have spent some time in the industry, you realize that not everybody’s going to like you. In fact, not everybody’s going to like what you design. Most of the time it’s not about colour or race, but sometimes it is. For instance when someone loves what you do until they meet you and then suddenly it seems you’re dealing with a different person.
Now that I run my own design company, we try to work with clients that really appreciate what we do and the work we produce. We avoid the clients that don’t see value in our work.