February is Black History Month. And while acknowledging black contributions should not be relegated to a single month, it’s a good opportunity to celebrate the artists and thinkers who have changed the world for the better—and to reflect on the state of diversity in the arts today.
This year’s Oscars made headlines for its all-white nominees, yet film and TV are not the only industries suffering a lack of diversity. The AIGA (the association for professional design) notes that only 14% of professional designers are minorities. This is an issue that desperately needs to be addressed, as the organization explains:
…race is only part of the picture. Diversity in design means diversity of experience, perspective, and creativity—otherwise known as diversity of thought—and these can be shaped by multiple factors including race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual identity, ability/disability, and location, among others. The diversity problem in design is not only in the numbers, but also in the lack of diverse role models, opportunities, and public awareness—which leads to apathy, insensitivity, and even outright discrimination.
At Visual News we are well aware of the power of visual communication and the importance of diversity of thought. Good work comes from many perspectives, and that’s what we aim to celebrate every day. Yet we know we can all strive for more inclusion in our fields. In honor of Black History Month, we encourage everyone (starting with ourselves) to reflect on the value of diversity of thought, explore a subject outside of your comfort zone, and learn about the work and life of someone who doesn’t look like you.
If you need a little inspiration, enjoy the work of Texas-based artist Adam Hernandez (aka Slim The Phenom). Since 2014, he has celebrated Black History Month by posting a portrait of a prominent black figure each day during the month of February. Enjoy his most recent postings below, and follow his Black History Series to see this year’s contributions.
Like this? Check out our favorite pieces of art inspired by MLK’s “I have a dream” speech. Learn more about the first African-American man to dominate the ad industry. And see why Brazilians put racist comments on billboards to shame online trolls.
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