Waking, If Not Yet Woke

Since May 25th when four Minneapolis police officers killed an unarmed black man George Floyd in an incident captured on cell phone video and uploaded for all the world to see, business as usual has not been possible in America. Coming in the middle of an unprecedented global shutdown occasioned by a once-in-a-century pandemic, this tragedy demanded everyone’s attention precisely because it was not unprecedented—was in fact an all too common aspect of every African American’s reality.

We at O+A understand our responsibility to speak out against the inequities that have brought us to this moment. Ours is a privileged industry. Our “business as usual” does not often intersect the lives of the people who live in George Floyd’s neighborhood or neighborhoods like his all over the country—indeed, all over the world. That’s one reason we are especially grateful to our colleagues who had the courage to step up during recent staff meetings and insist that we, as a company, step up too.

To speak out responsibly we feel we must first listen. Over the coming days and weeks we will document on our website and social media O+A’s efforts to better understand the hard history that brought us here and the visions of leaders who would help us to a better place. 

O+A’s staff is young and diverse and passionately committed to using design as a force for good. That was apparent at an all hands meeting last Thursday when everyone gathered in support of our black colleagues to talk with shaking voices about the events of the last two weeks and try to find the right way forward. We made some protest posters that day—entering the fray through the door we know best: design. These are our first banners for a march we are dismayed to find still necessary, carrying a truth that should have been self evident from our country’s earliest days: Black Lives Matter. 

Our first banners, our first efforts. Not our last.