Black Lives Matter. And so do our actions.
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 its leadership by hiring a third-party consultant to advise the Board and provide implicit bias and diversity training. We 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 NOMAS.
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.