Navigating a BIPOC identity through Solidarity Design Labor
This short paper uses experiences as a design practitioner, an activist, and a 2nd generation immigrant as a means to understand and define “good work”, and how that work can assist in navigating one’s identity. The “good work” is self-defined by the author as labor produced in solidarity with communities in need of support. Through the obsession with work, albeit “good work”, one can ultimately lose sight of their own identity through assimilation. Or at the very least, be forced into a work-first lifestyle where constant code-switching is necessary, which forces the siloing off of each identity lens, never to see the collective identities represented and experienced in full.
The intent of sharing these lensed histories, lived experiences, and struggles of compromising identities are to offer an alternative pathway moving forward. This pathway would recognize and embrace one’s plural identity earlier in a career, seeing it as an asset rather than a deficit. Suggesting that if said mindset were to be adopted and practiced amongst BIPOC, specifically Asian American designers, greater solidarity work and movements could arise with the intent of dismantling the systems of oppressive power, explicitly white supremacy and capitalism.
Keywords: Black and Asian Solidarity, Labor, Code-Switching, and Assimilation
Dave Pabellon University of Illinois at Chicago (MFA ’07), is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Columbia College Chicago and a design consultant under the moniker It Is Just Dave LLC, with a focus on partnerships with cultural institutions, contemporary artists, and activist organizations.
Pabellon most recently was an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Dominican University and prior to that held the role of senior designer at the award-winning studio Faust Associates. In addition to his professional and academic practice Pabellon also serves as the Co-President for AIGA Chicago, is a roster member of Dark Matter University, and is a Core Organizer of the Design As Protest Collective.