The Racism Untaught framework was sparked by an interest to support conversations on race and racism in any classroom, not only those with diversity, equity, and inclusion in the titles. Beginning in 2018, Professor Mercer has worked with Terresa Moses (University of Minnesota), to develop an anti-racist framework and toolkit that explores, reveals, and assists in unlearning racialized design approaches. This framework was developed out of a design research process meant to prompt thought, such as positionality in the design process, and a shared language to discuss artifacts, systems, and experiences that perpetuate oppression. The book project provides a methodology to analyze systems of oppression and design interventions that acknowledge the intersectionality of social identities and can be implemented by educators, researchers, and practitioners to foster conversations and promote learning environments that generate new ideas, critical thinking, and diverse forms of making.
The ability to identify and discuss designs that have supported the overgeneralization of historically marginalized communities is imperative to guide a social shift in the design community. The Racism Untaught project has reached over 1800 participants through over 600 hours of workshops, 12 college-level courses at different research institutions, and numerous national and international presentations in academia and industry. The participants and students have helped further understand the value and need for a shared vocabulary in conversations focused on forms of racialized design. This emerged as the crux of the research and has led to articles and conference presentations informed by interviews and the researchers’ own primary data.