America is facing one of her greatest challenges. Four centuries of racial, social, and economic injustice have led to this tipping point. Calls for justice are sweeping across the land. We are angry, sad, and determined to change.
Black lives matter.
Our country’s systemic problems cannot be solved with token promises. There is no roadmap for the changes that must be made. We ask each of you to work and to help create that map. We will start with empathy, with educating ourselves, and with engagement in meaningful and impactful changes.
The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many others, and all of the events, demonstrations, and protests in reaction to them, have magnified the need for Cooper Carry to look inwardly and deeply. We do not want or intend to have racist or prejudicial elements. We do not want these things in our culture or workplaces. We do not want these things in our communities and cities. We do not want these things in our hearts. Empathy, education, and engagement are all required, and are especially required of white people.
We acknowledge that before we embark on the path of mitigating and then eliminating racism of any kind, we must commit to taking the time necessary to expand our knowledge of Black history and culture so that any actions are appropriately informed. Accordingly, we commit to promoting education that will increase awareness and sensitivity, while broadening the contextual lens through which all at Cooper Carry view and judge events. We strive to enable a greater understanding of the 401-year history of Black people in America and Black people in our profession.
EDIC, the Cooper Carry Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council, is meeting regularly to help the firm examine itself. We commit to listen and to act.
We commit to a fundamental cultural examination and action to eliminate structural discrimination, racism and prejudice, real and perceived. We start with ourselves immediately. We also look outwardly to act to effect positive change.
Last week, Cooper Carry began this process by taking the following concrete actions:
- The Trustees of the Cooper Carry Charitable Foundation voted to fund scholarships for Black students of architecture at an accredited Historically Black University. We have initiated this process and will share more as soon as we are able.
- Our design firm, Cooper Carry, will engage that same Historically Black University by providing mentors for students, summer internships, and by recruiting its graduates for employment in our offices in Atlanta, Washington, DC, and New York.
- We will continue to provide funding for scholarships in support of minority architectural students at Auburn University.
- As a design firm, we’d like to tackle ways we can support social injustice through planning and architecture. While homelessness is not a Black issue, it does affect minorities disproportionately. Black people are seven times as likely to be homeless than white people. Thus, one step we are taking is to make the firm available for the provision of design services, pro bono, to organizations combating homelessness. We will engage this issue in greater Atlanta, Washington, DC, and New York. We have initiated this process.
- We will continue to provide design services for organizations such as Covenant House and Carpenter’s Shelter that provide support for the homeless. We will also continue to work with non-profit organizations like the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation that provide affordable and transitional housing.
There is, of course, more to be done. This is a start. We will be listening carefully to our staff and our communities, and will continue to share the concrete actions that we undertake. We are committed to change.