In February, I discovered an article on Twitter about “decolonizing graphic design,” published in the summer of last year. These sorts of articles are incredibly useful for showing exactly what’s going on in the Critical Social Justice mindset once you know how to read them, and this one doesn’t disappoint. After quickly threading about the article on Twitter to show it and explain it to my followers, I grabbed my microphone for an impromptu discussion of what I read.
A key point on the issue of what “decolonization” means in design includes that colonization doesn’t mean what we usually think it means. Instead, it means “embedding Western ideology” into whatever is being “colonized.” The effect of this is to “devalue other ways of knowing.” They also say that this is a “process” with no “finite end.”
Together, what this means is that “colonization” refers to expecting people to think and act in ways that Critical Social Justice identifies with white, Western, Eurocentric, and patriarchal culture, and this needs to be torn down for alternatives. In this sense, “decolonization” means tearing apart those established systems (not necessarily for good reasons) and replacing them with other “ethnic” and “sensitive” ones. A value of “shattering the familiar,” they call it in the article.
Another key point is that decolonizing design includes giving design work to people in minoritized groups. “Design,” (like everything) they tell us, is “intrinsically political.” The goal is therefore colonizing the field of graphic design with transformative politics and doing so in the name of decolonization.