The National Design Awards celebrates design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world, and seeks to create national awareness of design by educating the public and promoting excellence, innovation, and lasting achievement.

And speaking of achievement, this year’s Lifetime Achievement award has been awarded to Gail Anderson! Gail is both an alumnus and faculty member at the School for Visual Arts in New York City, as well as co-founder of Anderson Newton Design.
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In one of last season’s episodes of HBO’s Insecure, Lawrence, an app developer, is ready to present his app to his White, male tech firm co-workers. They seem impressed, but offer no follow-up questions; instead, the conversation shifts to them making compliments about Lawrence’s vintage Jordans. On ABC’s black-ish, Andre “Dre” Johnson works as the head of the urban division at an ad agency, and he and a new client come up with a campaign for a new champagne called Uvo. Dre’s fellow ad men love the initial pitch, but at home, his wife and mother are disappointed that his concept expressed some of the worst stereotypes of modern African American life: cartoonish over-consumerism and blatant misogynoir.

A young Black male looks despondent as he receives a critique; a laptop is in the backgroundSome of you may have been in identical situations. You are really excited to show something you have worked on to your peers, but instead of encouragement, thoughtful questions, useful advice, or even consideration of your input, you get empty praise, no substantive critique, or the worst—nothing at all.

As companies and organizations become more inclusive by hiring Black designers, developers, and writers, creative teams are also figuring out how to ensure everyone is welcomed, understood and brings their full selves to work. Perks and benefits are nice to offer, but so is fostering an environment where talent is allowed to flourish through the exchange of ideas with rigor, debate, and maybe even a few hurt feelings.

So why are our colleagues reluctant to give constructive critiques to Black creativity?
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