By Lorianna Kastrop, Vice President/CFO, The Kastrop Group, Inc. Architects
This past week has highlighted how painfully deep racial injustice permeates our country. Beyond the concerns that the world shares due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed horrific violence and multiple examples of police brutality on black citizens. The current situation is intolerable and must change. There must be no going back to “normal” or “the good old days”. The “good old days” were not good for African Americans. “Normal” means danger and a lack of options and opportunities for African Americans.
Where can one start to affect change as a small businessperson? We spent the week visiting websites of organizations that work to end racial injustice and we reviewed online videos by prominent leaders in the black community. After consideration, we decided that a good place to start is in our own backyard.
We are an architecture firm. We work in a predominantly white male profession. As the American Institute of Architects acknowledged in a recent Board Statement, “AIA’s promise from this day forward is to hold close the anger, anguish, but above all, compassion we’ve heard from our members demanding that AIA speak out more clearly and urgently on racially motivated acts of violence and police brutality. That important work starts with each of us. It is our responsibility to work together to break down the barriers that start in architecture school and continue into the firm and workplace that exclude far too many.”
As architects, we want young people of color to envision themselves as architects, to see a clear path ahead to that goal, and to receive adequate support to achieve it. This lack of diversity has been prevalent in western architecture for centuries and when corrected, will benefit everyone. As a company, over the past 25 years, we have consistently devoted time, energy, and funds to programs for youth and education.
Therefore, we believe that a perfect intersection of our long-time efforts with the current social justice movement is a program that provides scholarships for African American students who are enrolling in college to study architecture. Opening doors for Black students in architecture targets our deeply-felt concerns and can lead to societal change. We will be donating to the Diversity Advancement Scholarship at the Architecture Foundation. According to the Foundation “This multiyear scholarship supports high school and undergraduate minority students who are entering, enrolled in, or transferring into a NAAB-accredited undergraduate architecture program.” More information regarding this program, as well as how to donate, can be found on the Architect’s Foundation website here. We will earmark our donation for a worthy African American student.
We are hoping that our fellow architects and others in the construction industry will join us by donating funds to make these scholarships available to more and more students.
If that is not your area of passion, but you want to make a difference and do not know where to start, here is a good list that will trigger your thoughts and plans: 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice at medium.com.
We hope that you and your loved ones remain healthy during this pandemic, and we encourage you to do whatever is within your reach to make your community and our world safe for all, regardless of the color of their skin.
As always, we are “Designing for Your Reality”.