Crowd Protesting

BLACK

LIVES

MATTER

Black Lives Matter. Those who think that means only Black Lives Matter are choosing to miss the  point. The point is, until Black Lives Matter, until the loss of black lives receives the same outrage, the  same justice: swift, firm & final, the same compassion and empathy that the majority expects and  demands of their losses; as they would say at NASA, “Houston, we have a huge problem”. A problem  with the very foundation of our society, our country, but we knew that already.  

We knew that already because we know our American culture, our history, the foundation of this  country, was built off the blood and sweat equity of indigenous people, indentured servants and, more  specifically, people brought here against their will as slave labor. We're not going to go into detail about  the callous indifference, inhumane, brutal, process of breaking and managing slave labor. We're not  here to bore you with the relentless cruelty, the physical and mental abuse necessary to maintain such an enterprise; or the underhanded and laborious efforts to perpetuate oppression even after slavery  was abolished. What we will point out is that the foundation of our country is cracked because deep in the soul of our America, restitution was never made. The fact is that our country was built off another's  suffering, on the backs of those never having received recompense. We know this because, if it had, we wouldn't be where we are right now. Where we've been before. Demanding the same things: basic  rights of a citizen of this country.  

We in the building design and construction industry know that foundational problems are some of the  most challenging to resolve, to fix. The first step to addressing any problem, no matter what facet of life  it presents itself in, is to acknowledge we have a problem to begin with. The current events have  widened the fissures and are bringing them to the surface. The fact that the list of issues that come in  various names like: systemic racism, white privilege, racial discrimination, implicit biases,  microaggressions, prejudice, etc, etc, etc, means that the engine that runs our great country has many faulty parts. Acknowledging the problem is a big step, but now that we know the depths of the problem, what are we going to do about it? What actions now and moving forward are we going to take to solve  the problem?  

There is a lot to unpack and a lot of work to be done. It may appear daunting but there is strength in numbers. We have power and have always had endurance. It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to  being the change we want to see. In the building design and construction community we might not think  we have much pull in the grand scheme of what we are facing, but the built environment in its various  forms and scales; site, landscape, building design, space planning, city planning, interiors, building systems, and construction tells a very real story about a society's values, beliefs and how people  interact, communicate and engage with one another.  

We, the Wisconsin chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects mission is to set a solid  foundation on which our members are empowered to promote justice and equity in communities of  color through outreach, professional development, design excellence and community advocacy.  

As part of our plan of action, Wisco NOMA creates programming that aids in the growth of minority  presence in architecture by providing materials, support, and resources at all stages of our members  careers. 

  • The Wisco NOMA Pipeline allows us to partner with local K-12 schools in Wisconsin to facilitate  informational workshops, foster design thinking, and develop critical analysis skills of the built  environment within minority youth. It also allows us to support and collaborate with the student  chapter, NOMAS at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in their endeavors, initiatives and  transition to the workplace.  

  • The Wisco NOMA ARE Coalition bridges the gap between education and examination by  creating structured study groups and partnering with institutions to obtain materials, resources,  and guidance for WISCO NOMA members.  

  • The Wisco NOMA Catalogue maintains an active roster of minority architects in Wisconsin and  highlights their achievements. The catalog provides opportunities to promote minority-owned  businesses and partners.  

  • Through Wisco NOMA Advocacy we will engage with local firms, organizations, local, state and  national government to agitate and help influence the decisions that impact our lives, careers,  economics and communities.  

 

Small steps become big steps just as thoughts become buildings. Buildings become places and places  make a lasting impact on the people that engage with them. To grow the knowledge and understanding  about the building design and construction industry, foster growth in our communities and have a hand  in starting to heal the foundation of our country is the fruit we would like to harvest from the seeds we  are planting now.  

So, take some small steps with us. 

 

Marion Clendenen-Acosta, Wisco NOMA President  

Wekeana Lassiter, Wisco NOMA Vice-President  

Teonna Cooksey, Wisco NOMA Secretary  

Muhammad Shehata, Wisco NOMA Treasurer  

Kouyate Toure, Wisco NOMA Parliamentarian