This project was incredibly challenging as we began just when COVID took over the world. The collective, inclusive design methods I was being taught in class were directly incoherent to the messages I am receiving from the media. During this remote learning process, I’ve lost motivation completely at a few points and I’ve also felt hopeless and helpless because of what has been happening. I questioned a lot about what the designers’ role is and what I can do to be better. Ramon Tejada said, “Decolonizing is about unearthing, shifting the glance, de-centering, giving agency, being vulnerable, making mistakes, ideation, thinking about our communities, and not so much design.”
When I was conducting these co-design sessions it was prevalent that my determination towards redefining whom designers are serving and what the proper approach to the research is was met with separatism and anxiety. However, the processes during this project also brought me joy as it grounded me to my heritage and my family. It was a turning point in how I viewed my relationships because these were conversations that I would never normally have if it weren’t for the project. Getting my entire family involved to make the album was grueling but also so so valuable.
The sessions have taught me how I should approach the participants because I believe that in this case, I wasn’t successful in the down-up approach at all. The way I carry myself and how I show respect was something that I was never really careful about. The privilege I carry as a Westernized, educated, upper-middle-class, able-bodied person, I was able to rethink status, tradition, heritage, hierarchy, oppression, and all the elements that play a central role in people’s lives and relationships.
Elizabeth Tunstall said, “Just because one group is speaking louder doesn’t mean the other groups are speaking less.” ‘What is a dominant narrative’ was such a key question in this political time, which really created a perfect storm for me to have multiple stages of awakening. It was a huge turning point for me to think about democracy, design, history, family, power. I had never been very political, but through the process of learning in this unit, I’ve become very aware in terms of capitalism, colonialism, and systemized patriarchy and racism. The fact that I am able to see that everything is interconnected from a small virus to the global economy is such a valuable lesson.