About the Planners of Color (PoC)
"It is in the collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism" ~Angela Davis
A network of planners, designers, creatives, architects, and community development professionals in Massachusetts
Planners of Color first RaceTalk panel at a planning conference troubleshooting better hiring practices to increase representation
In 2017, the Mel King Institute’s Alliance for Racial Equity hosted a book club and began with the book Race Talk. This ignited interest and the book club expanded. In 2018 several members of the book club became part of a delegation joining more than 100 participants from around the state in attending the Policy Link Conference. Shortly after reading The Color of Law, a group of professionals from the planning and community development field felt the urgency to play a significant role in dismantling the legacy of institutional racism in Massachusetts and beyond. This desire for change catalyzed the creation of the Planners of Color (PoC) Network as a means to create a more diverse pipeline of practitioners and further representation in the planning and community development fields. Members from the network attended multiple planning conferences speaking on strategies and sharing best practices for inclusion and belonging.
Then, two intertwined and compounding events happened in 2020:
the deadly COVID-19 pandemic and our nation's racial reckoning.
For nearly the past two years, the cognitive, emotional, and physical resources for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, in, and out of our PoC Network have been disproportionately depleted. Throughout the racial uprisings in mid-2020, we've been asked to educate about the widespread prevalence of racism and anti-Blackness in professional settings and society, while also leading the helm of antiracism work within our own organizations. Responding to such requests and/or fulfilling them requires both physical and emotional labor, which can exacerbate existing fatigue. All of this is being added to the weight of ongoing disparities in the workplace and the planning field, including pay inequality and lack of representation in leadership.
Our community is exhausted.
Yet, there has been significant growth in the PoC network since 2020. The message is clear. There is a collective need to fulfill human experiences of connection, belonging, friendship, creativity, healing, and overcoming similar challenges. PoC is focused on equipping its members themselves with self-care strategies that are necessary given the journey ahead of us to eradicate structural and systemic racism in our respective fields. Furthermore, our efforts are concentrated on ensuring that our communities (people and place-based) are planned without us being forgotten, planned alongside those who live in them, that planning jargon is uncoded and accessible to anyone including non-English speakers, and that plans confront, eradicate, and remedy discriminatory policies. To reach these goals, it means that the places where we live, work, or gather need the tools to better influence change without compromising our well-being, or our brothers/sisters.’
Therefore, the PoC's Executive Committee is in the process of re-focusing the network given the collective call to integrate community safety, healing, and emotional wellbeing into the movement strategies. Additionally, the Network would like to cultivate partners who are willing to be our friends in a meaningful way.
All too often, the lives, stories, and data of BIPOC communities are used and objectified in the rhetoric of social change. The cost is to the community's collective liberation. Justice must include honoring the truth of Black movements, and their lives by uplifting the joy, resilience, genius, and care that comes with our experiences of dismantling oppressive systems.