The design community must not stay silent

Originally posted on Medium and republished with permission.

I’m dealing with another round of grief, anger, and profound sadness. I check in with friends, family, colleagues, and then go out into the world with the anxiety of wondering if I’ll be next.

I read the article entitled, Maintaining Professionalism in the age of Black Death Is…A Lot by Shenequa Golding. The article resonated with me because it articulates a sentiment that I and so many other black professionals share.

We are tired. After every news cycle, we continue to show up on Zoom meetings, acting like it’s just another normal day. It isn’t.

Your Silence Speaks Volumes protest sign

As a designer, we refer to empathy, research, discovery, solutions, and success metrics in our day-to-day — but rarely is this methodology applied to the world around us. It’s evident that the structures in place don’t drive success for everyone — the Floyds, Breonnas, and Ahmauds keep happening and are a result of a broken system that’s past due for a change.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” — MLK

There is still so much work to be done. Ignoring current issues will not change things, not having people of color in your organization doesn’t mean these issues are nonexistent, and having a few black people on staff doesn’t mean the work is done.

To my design allies, the world needs you more than ever to call out systems that aren’t right and imagine what the future could be. In the design process — question who we are designing for, who we aren’t, and the systems in place that drive decision making. Through culture — question if our organizations are equipped to build something meaningful, and ideating how we can provide better ways to support and uplift our black neighbors, friends, and colleagues as we move toward that future.

As a manager, I know first hand that everyone on my team has unique backgrounds and circumstances that they are dealing with outside of their work-life. It’s not something that they leave at the door — it is constant. It affects how they show up to work, and recognizing that is the right thing to do; it’s the human thing to do.

You’ve got the power. How will you show up?

Harrison Wheeler, author By Harrison Wheeler

Harrison Wheeler is an Experience Manager at LinkedIn. He's a former Design Manager at Zendesk Sell. Midwest born and raised. Connect with him at