How designers are helping visualise the Black Lives Matter movement
Campaign Zero: A platform for ending police violence
In her talk at WDCD2016, documentary-maker Eefje Blankevoort spoke out for the importance of contributing to ‘constructive journalism over destructive journalism’. Watching the news today speaks volumes to the truth of her statement. Fortunately, platforms like Campaign Zero, which advocates for social and racial justice, are growing in number and influence.
Launched in August 2015, the police reform campaign has since grown in scope, and has recently released a new chapter called ‘Check the Police’: a data-driven but easy-to-grasp review of police union contracts across the U.S. Just like the rest of the Campaign Zero platform, the aim of this website is to help people understand the systemic flaws which lead to racial injustice and outline the necessary steps to change them. Interactive spreadsheets, data visualisations and clear, policy-based solutions make the website’s reports more appealing to read, and the gigantic issue of police brutality less intimidating to tackle.
While the site isn’t perfect, it proves as an example of how designers can help make complex issues clear and develop tangible tools for action. DeRay Mckesson, co-founder of the platform, says that design has always played an important role in shaping his message. ‘At the heart of storytelling is giving people access to the story, and designers can do that,’ he said to Fast Company.
To bring us back to Blankevoort, whose award-winning projects are further examples of enlightening, good media (as opposed to dangerous, hate media), more and more creatives are stepping up to the storytelling plate. Four designers from The Guardian’s interactive team, for example, are responsible for the comprehensive and powerful site, ‘The Counted’ , a database mapping all people killed by police in the U.S.
And just last week, the professional design association, AIGA, set up a new initiative, which aims to engage the design community with social justice issues. Project head Ashleigh Axios believes strongly in designers’ ability to help encourage diversity and inclusion. ‘As designers, we have an innate ability to tell human stories in a narrative way instead of in steps and statistics,’ she says. ‘Whether it’s mass incarceration or police violence in the United States, [designers] have to keep in mind as a community that the narrative we tell makes a difference.’