The Texas Society of Architects (TxA) is committed to championing a culture of social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within the architectural community, but the ongoing murders of Black men, women, transgender people, and children –– including Ahmaud Arbery, Atatiana Jefferson, Breonna Taylor, Botham Jean, Tony McDade, and George Floyd –– have caused our leadership to ask itself, how does TxA actively dismantle white privilege and systemic racism that is encoded in every aspect of our built environment and profession? As one of the nation’s largest state organizations for the architectural profession, what are we doing to ensure our organization reflects the change we want to see in society? Answers won’t come easily. However, we pledge to do the work necessary to bring about transformation, starting from within.
We acknowledge the lack of diversity represented by TxA Leadership, even to the present day. Since TxA’s founding, there has been only one Black voting member on the Board of Directors, and only one Honor Award given to a Black Architect. TxA must do better than this by engaging the diverse voices, talents, and contributions of our Black colleagues; not just in times of distress, but daily.
Representation alone is not the answer. TxA commits to becoming an inclusive organization through the following of short-term steps with the long-term goal of eradicating the systemic racism that has impacted the lives and work of our Black colleagues. While we have been in the process of integrating equitable practices into our organization, including the formation of the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Task Force in 2017 to institute long-overdue changes, we have not done enough. We vow to immediately take the following actions:
- TxA will educate our leadership by hiring a third-party consultant to advise the Board and provide implicit bias and diversity training. TxA will also provide access to implicit bias and diversity training to our state’s local chapters, firms, and members.
- TxA will evaluate and reform as needed the current TxA nomination processes and governance policies to ensure fairness, inclusion, and transparency in order to increase the diversity of our leadership and membership.
- TxA will challenge and identify the standards of merit ingrained in the Society by eliminating implicit bias, one of the most harmful obstacles preventing us from truly embracing diversity.
- TxA will create partnerships with the National and local chapters of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) to raise awareness of the social, political, and economic challenges NOMA advocates for through its professional and general organization. TxA vows to support initiatives such as NOMA’s “Project Pipeline,” currently planned for the fall in Dallas and Houston. Project Pipeline advocates for increased inclusivity, diversity, fellowship, equity, and excellence in design by ensuring architecture reaches a diverse population of students and increasing the “pipeline” of minority professionals entering architecture programs and gaining licensure.
- TxA will collaborate with Texas university architecture programs to support minority students and increase the retention of minority emerging professionals throughout their architecture careers. The first steps are to support the development of curriculum that highlights the roles of Black and minority architects, create mentorship opportunities for students as they begin and develop their careers, and build stronger relationships between AIAS and NOMA.
By taking the above actions, TxA will move closer to becoming an organization that is empathetic, leads courageously, and does not hide from arduous tasks or uncomfortable discussions. Our goal is to become inclusive, represent the breadth of creeds, colors, and orientations we serve, and voice the systematic problems constraining the attainment of equitable communities.
Above all, we acknowledge the overwhelming anxiety, frustration, anger, disappointment, hurt, rage, helplessness, uncertainty, disillusionment, and pain our Black colleagues are experiencing, and we invite your feedback on additional steps we can take to advance TxA as an organization that truly reflects our members and the communities we serve. We are here to listen, and we are committed to prioritizing the work needed to become a just and equitable organization and profession.
Collaborating on the statement were: TxA EDI Committee; Chudi Abajue, AIA; Derwin Broughton, AIA; Jamie Crawley, AIA; Jessica Deaver, Assoc. AIA; Beau Frail, AIA; David Goujon, AIA; Brien Graham, AIA; Al Hernandez, AIA; Melvalean McLemore, AIA; Gianna Pigford, AIA; Agustina Rodriguez, Assoc. AIA; Michael Zaretsky, AIA; and the TxA Board of Directors.
We invite you to share your stories, experiences, and thoughts below. If you prefer to contact us by email, we are listening.
Please send a draft to all members to make sure you speak for the whole of TSA. As one of the largest State Architectural Organizations, it would set a very strong example that the statement is representative of the membership and not just the few in leadership roles.,
Is the world really looking toward the architecture community to fix racism? As for races being represented within the organization or represented fairly within prizes awarded by the organization, I strongly suggest examining the percentages within the field in stead of just what is in the organization. Not everything is racist.
This link from UT Austin does a good job to explain implicit bias. We all suffer from unconscious biased beliefs. The purpose of delving deeper into understanding our own biases is to bring them out of the shadows so that we can thoughtfully challenge them and see how they affect our behavior. I know some of my own implicit biases are at odds with my stated progressive values. I am ashamed at the way I have reacted in situations (often out of my own fear, mostly imagined) where my implicit biases were driving my behavior. I applaud TSA and AIA National for calling out our members to take steps as a group and individually to create a more compassionate and equitable world. I am grateful to play what role I can in addressing these divisive and unflattering biases. I have my own work to do to make this world better for everyone.
I agree with the comments by both Walter and Dayton. I resent your “leadership”‘s right to make sweeping generalizations and assumptions regarding the attitudes of the membership. You have no idea about the percentage or degree of prejudice that exists or does not exist among architects or any other group. In fact, your assumption of the need to address undocumented racism is merely a cowardly response to leftist pressure within the AIA and other groups dominated by pseudo-intellectuals who consistently spend time and money trying to look progressive with volumes of verbal and written platitudes instead of actually dealing with honest introspection and their own failing to treat everyone equally. Get off the bandwagons and show some originality. If your designs are as mundane and bland as the herd mentality you follow, sameness and mediocrity will soon be the goal. And – what does that little check box mean?
“Your comment is awaiting moderation” means censorship to conform to your perspective. So much again for any serious attempt at inclusion.
The fundamental way to create an environment of inclusion begins with introducing our profession to ALL at an early age. Education, Education, Education in elementary schools to those who otherwise would never come into contact with an Architect or the profession is a must and something our state organization can help facilitate among especially the “non-large” components who, for the most part have some types of elementary program involvement. AIA Brazos has had a successful elementary program for 12 straight years with amazing leaders who are passionate about what they are doing. Each year students, their parents and teachers are introduced to “architecture” by component volunteers and architecture students. This is one way our organization can help to implement strategic inclusion into our profession. There are other ways, but this would be a start.
We also need measurable goals to determine progress that is being made toward truly representative TxA leadership as well as those who are appointed to the TxA board from each component. We should at least have proportional representation matching the demographics in our state. This can be done, but a strategic path must be taken along with implementation of measurable outcomes to determine progress.
Just give everyone a trophy, a hardy handshake and a job well done.