WELCOME TO NOMAKC
The Kansas City Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects
NOMAKC'S STATEMENT REGARDING RACIAL INJUSTICE:
Dear Kansas City Community:
As COVID19 has changed virtually everyone’s lives throughout the world, it has compounded another crisis that existed far longer than any past, present, and future pandemics: racial inequality & injustice. The weight and heaviness of the moment of reckoning our nation has experienced in the past weeks is almost unbearable. This is not due to a lack of recent attention, voices, or support from others who have now humbly acknowledged that black lives in this country are so devalued that they are not even worth the price of a potential counterfeit dollar; but rather from the prospect of not being able to overcome the weight of racism that permeates our lives despite all the will-power of everyone supporting this movement. How many more lives will be lost before we make meaningful strides for change in our society?
As a national organization with many chapters, NOMA was formed to defeat systemic racism and gender inequality, like many other national organizations who preceded us with the same cause. As a local chapter that represents Kansas City, NOMAKC would first like to lend passage to our National message for unity. We are honored to present the following message below from our NOMA National President, Kim Dowdell.
NOMAKC thanks our national organization’s message from President Dowdell and the leadership example they set for all of our local chapters. Now that you’ve read her message, are you ready to be B.R.A.V.E?
In recent years, our architecture and design industry has been rummaging for solutions to address the glaring lack of diversity within the field. A field that is meant to provide and realize vision for our cities and the people that live in it. If it is not painstakingly clear that these efforts are futile without facing the hideous truth of racism, bigotry, and bias within our communities head-on: then this journey that we are all on to better our industry will always miss the mark. Architecture and other professions have typically taken the “politically correct” route of leaving issues like racism on the doorstep of their pristine glass entries as they proceed with business; not realizing just how much everyone has a duty and responsibility in making these injustices right in and outside of the office. The industry cannot wonder where it can recruit bright and promising black designers or even promote black architects to executive board positions within firms if these potential candidates are not even around to realize their full potential because their lives are taken by a community that persecutes them for the color of their skin.
By its sheer existence, it is evident that NOMA understands the inequalities and inhumanity served to minorities throughout the nation. However, we as well, have only emphasized the architecture and industry side of race and diversity, and our focus needs to shift. The change that desperately needs to happen is for design firms to come together and join NOMAKC and like-minded organizations to support our communities of color and become a collective that embraces it’s vibrant diversity in and out of the workplace.
To companies searching for how they can effectively support the black community, here are some immediate action items and commitments that can make a big impact:
Actively Address Racial Injustice In the Workplace
Actively Support Change
By donating your money and time to black organizations
Donate to your local or National NOMA (if not already contributing). Particularly their national Project Pipeline Program.
Donate to Black Lives Matter, NAACP, or any of the other black justice initiatives & organizations.
Commit to one pro bono project a year that provides design services for local black businesses
*Don’t be timid about highlighting the organizations you are donating to on your website/social media platforms and encourage others in the industry to do the same
Actively Promote Change:
By carving time out of regular business hours to do just that
Make it clear to your employees that by law: they are provided paid time to vote in Federal Elections (MO-3HRS, KS-2HRS) and encourage them to do so.
Don’t just stop at federal election requirements; offer at least 1 hr for Congressional, State, or Local Elections and commit to being intentional about sending a reminder email of such policies weeks prior to employees.
Provide at least one paid seminar/workshop a year to educate your employees about racial bias or create forums where this can be openly discussed with those who choose to opt in. A couple of local Kansas City Specialists: Sophic Solutions LLC, Michelle T Johnson
Actively Protect Your Black Employees:
By creating space to acknowledge the psychological impact
Create intentional spaces to uncover the experiences, sentiments, and needs of employees of color. Leadership must be a part of these group discussions, actively listen, and respond with actionable items.
Provide some time off for mental health to all employees or minority employees. Especially with world events happening that directly affect the psyche of employees of color, it can be quite traumatic. Refer to the opinion piece: Maintaining Professionalism In The Age of Black Death Is….A Lot
Actively Diversify the Field:
By contributing to the pipeline and recruiting with intent
Provide a diversity scholarship for students to either (1) Intern at your office or (2) Have some of their college tuition paid for.
Commit to sending representatives to at least one career fair held at a Historically Black College and University with a School of Design. Here’s a link to familiarize yourself with them.
For interview and hiring processes, have an outside board of diversity and inclusion advocates review resumes and portfolios as a check-and balance on implicit bias.
As a resource to the design community, reach out to NOMAKC for additional discussions, suggestions, and questions. Our organization exists to foster justice and equity in communities of color through outreach, community advocacy, professional development, and design excellence.
Will you join us?