For my Ethical Dilemmas of a Global Designer class, I was asked to design an artifact countering a racist ad that was given to us.
The design process proceeded in four phases - context, define, ideate and prototype. The context and define phase was done in a group of four, then later on split off into individual projects. Here is the racist ad we were presented with:
To begin this project, my team and I began by doing research on racism in the beauty industry. To kick off the 'concept' stage, we created a compiled literature review and annotated bibliography that summarized all of the research we found - after this was complete, we began looking at terms that may fit the scope of our assignment. We analyzed concepts such as cultural erasure, racial gaslighting, implicit bias, etc. to figure out what kind of issue we were dealing with. Once this stage was complete, we moved on to the 'define' stage, where we conducted user interviews. The results can be seen below:
After analyzing these results, we began the next phase - "ideate". In this phase, we were asked to create a quadrant map of potential ideas - this is where the process became more individual. Here is the quadrant map:
This was when I really realized what I wanted to create in this class - an app that allows people of color to shop for beauty products that are much less accessible in stores. I did this in stages: lo, mid and hi-fidelity prototypes:
Within this app, users are able to shop for beauty products based on their skin tone. In addition to this, users can also create blog posts to educate one another on social issues such as race, gender, beauty, etc.. Users are also able to message others that make a profile within the app. The goal of this app is to allow marginalized groups (i.e. women of color) to feel a sense of belongingness and community - being able to find beauty products that match their needs at the tap of a finger - something that society has not been enabling. Users also have the power to educate - in a world with so many issues, it sometimes feels as if the right voices aren't elevated. MelaBeauty gives power to those who want to see the world change for the better.
At the end of this 16-week class, I was so grateful for the knowledge I acquired. Working on a project revolving around social justice awoke my passion for ethical design - I never realized that I could combine usability, an area of design that I love, and raising awareness for pressing issues in society. Focusing an app design on such a heavy topic gave me a new perspective into the tragedy of racism - these problems are closer to home than we think. As a woman of color, I have experienced microagressions that aren't as pressing as issues we see in the news, but still hurtful to me as an individual and the growth of society as a whole. The point of this class was not to solve racism - that is something beyond the scope of design. The purpose of this class was to uncover the issues we look over on a daily basis and really think, "How can I be better? What can I do to play my part?". We need to do better. MelaBeauty is one step closer to a better, equal society.