Not sure of the experiences of other Black planners but these are a few of the recurring questions I've been asked recently:
"What can I do to make an impact?"
"What can I do to make changes in my Planning role/job?"
"How can I educate myself?"
"What questions/things should I be asking to ensure equity in developing Black communities?
First, after trying to find the right words to answer them I'm grateful people seemed genuine to understand how they could educate themselves - thank you to everyone that reached out to me on IG, Twitter or via email; that's love.
Nonetheless, I wasn't totally sure how to answer their questions right off the bat. Quite frankly, I wasn't sure what to say or how to explain it because everything I write, post, or talk about is coming purely from experience as a Black female urban planner - it isn't as easy to articulate to non-Black people. I did my best to answer as best I could based on my personal/professional experiences plus other things I've read or people I've followed - the following document by Danielle Dirsken (twitter: @dani.d_98) is the BEST resource to answer most, if not all, of the questions mentioned above.
Go check it out and read it here!
She provides some amazing insight, understanding of what can be done from white planners, and was gracious enough to mention us (BLCK SPCES) as a resource for Black planner voices to listen/watch! Thank you so much Danielle - you're doing amazing work and I'm eternally grateful for the document but mostly your transparency! We need more of that to really shift the past narrative of the planning profession. She mentions other AMAZING Black voices in the planning realm and I honestly can't think of a better resource to educate non-Black planners.
I talked to my mentor last week and she mentioned "transformation" as the keyword for what's happening in the world and more specifically, in planning. I think that's the perfect way to describe the amount of voices I've seen rallying for change and impact over the last few weeks - transforming a system that wasn't meant for US. This wave is only the beginning... this weight of opening folks eyes to being Black in America plus being a Black planner is an EVERY DAY weight we carry with us so now we have to make sure this fire continues to propel positive growth and development in our communities. If there was ever a time to overtake the elitism of planning, NOW IS THE TIME!
The transformation is happening with or without approval from everyone. I can't speak for other Black planners but I know for damn sure that I'm solely pushing for empowering and increasing the value of OUR communities and providing lanes for them to succeed without relying on larger municipalities to fund them. I hope you are too. Again, thank you Danielle for the amazing document - it's the start of a huge breakthrough for non-Black planners. It's no longer "if" we change the narrative - we WILL and are starting to pick up speed faster than ever; either you're in or out.
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