Black Lives Matter. Black Communities Matter.

A storefront in Indianapolis features the names of African Americans who have lost their lives to police violence. / AP Photo. Michael Conroy

After hearing feedback from our membership and after much reflection, the American Society of Landscape Architects issues the following statement regarding the killing of George Floyd:

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) joins millions of people around the world in mourning the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered by a police officer.

ASLA recognizes that the brutal systems of slavery and Jim Crowism have dehumanized black people and weakened their communities. We also acknowledge that the planning and design of the built environment, including landscape architecture, has often had a disproportionate adverse impact on black communities. Systemic racism in the built environment has taken many forms, including redlining, urban renewal, and disinvestment. Environmental injustices, including lack of equitable access to clean air and water and greater concentrations of pollution, continue to plague these communities. Further, gentrification and displacement make it impossible for black communities to continue to exist. The landscape architecture profession can play a critical role in reversing these trends.

Public spaces have always been a critically important platform for the protest movement and democratic change. They have also become sites of violent confrontation and oppression against the black community. It is important that ASLA and others amplify the black narrative of these spaces.

ASLA stands in solidarity with black communities in the fight against racial injustice and police violence against black people. Moving forward, ASLA will deepen our partnership with the Black Landscape Architects Network (BlackLAN) to create a meaningful, sustainable plan of action to help guide the profession in addressing the wants and needs of black communities—no matter how much work and time it takes. Black Lives Matter.

ASLA seeks to facilitate open, respectful dialogue in its public forums. Opinions expressed in the comments section are not necessarily those of ASLA. By participating in ASLA’s websites, blogs, and social media accounts, the user agrees to the Terms of Use.

23 thoughts on “Black Lives Matter. Black Communities Matter.

  1. Kevin S Holden 06/05/2020 / 10:10 am

    ALL Lives Matter. All Public design should be for Everyone – without special consideration for any particular race — to do otherwise would be blatantly racist. Will ASLA now stand against racism by promoting racism?

    • Jonathan Fitch 06/06/2020 / 12:32 pm

      Of course “all lives matter,” but that’s not the point. The reason it becomes necessary to say that “black lives matter” is that it is clear to anyone with their eyes open that LOTS of people think that black lives DON’T matter. Responding to someone saying “Black Lives Matter” by replying that “Hey! Wait a minute. My (white) life matters too!” is failing fundamentally the empathy test and is implicitly standing with those who think the status quo in race relations is just peachy. No one is systematically oppressing American white people, despite what the Aryan Brotherhood says. The fundamental message of “black lives matter” is “Wake up! Black lives matter, TOO!”

    • Black Lives Matter 06/17/2020 / 6:15 pm

      The fact that you’re someone who is in the profession of designing for people and don’t understand the meaning and significance of black lives matter and why it’s not “All lives matter” is frankly embarrassing. If you don’t want to change and let go of your own ignorance maybe it’s time to retire and keep your racism to yourself.

  2. Mark Johnson 06/05/2020 / 10:42 am

    While I may agree with this as an individual, I am pretty fed up with ASLA speaking for me on non-professional ethics. The political virtue signaling is really out of place in my opinion. I am seriously considering dropping out of the organization because I don’t pay a huge membership fee for this type of stuff. The virtue signaling seems to be increasing every year. I can speak for myself on ethical matters.

    • Kevin S Holden 06/05/2020 / 12:07 pm

      I strongly agree. I was a dues-paying member for many years, all the while becoming increasingly frustrated at the strong political stands taken by ASLA – against my personal interests and beliefs – despite my calls, letters, and posts of protest. I was always committed to supporting the profession, through my membership in ASLA, so was sorry to finally have to discontinue membership. One would hope that ASLA could be professional enough to focus on our profession rather than partisan political activism. I know that many others feel as we do.

    • Lina 06/17/2020 / 6:24 pm

      I’m proud of ASLA more than ever for standing up for what’s right and trying to really make a change.

      Landscape architecture is about compassion and designing for the people. We have to take a stand to make a real change.

      We need to make sure that black and POC designers who are so often subjected to mistreatment and blatant racism in the landscape architecture community and work place see that ASLA stands with them and for them.

      As a designer I’m outraged and extremely upset that that in 2020 there are designers who are not on the same page when it comes to this. Especially considering what a huge negative impact our profession has made on low income and POC neighborhoods.

      We need to do better, I’m glad ASLA is speaking out and standing by our side. This is the solidarity and leadership we need.

    • Mark Johnson Civitas 06/17/2020 / 7:58 pm

      I do not know who this Mark Johnson is but it is not me, Mark Johnson, Civitas. Everyone can have their opinion, but that one is not mine.

    • Mark Johnson Civitas 06/17/2020 / 7:58 pm

      I do not know who this Mark Johnson is but it is not me, Mark Johnson, Civitas. Everyone can have their opinion, but that one is not mine.

  3. Noël D. Vernon 06/06/2020 / 6:20 am

    Thanks, Jared, for posting this. Black (and brown) lives matter, and people of color are the ones are most at risk in so many ways — from police brutality to unemployment. It’s great to see ASLA taking a stand!

  4. Yasmin M. Fozard 06/07/2020 / 8:07 pm

    I decided early on not to become a member of ASLA because it was clear that this organization cared nothing for professionals of color.

    Sure, the organization had their one token Black landscape architect that they held up as an example of inclusion, but that was it. Our question has always been: what has ASLA done for us? Nothing

    • Kevin S Holden 06/08/2020 / 11:44 am

      The purpose of ASLA is to promote and support our profession – period – NOT to take up activist causes. It is not ASLA’s job to elevate and give special treatment to people on the basis of race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or political beliefs.

      ASLA’s sole purpose is supposed to be to advance the profession – which is equally good for ALL Landscape Architects, of ALL stripes. ASLA should be colorblind – to not be colorblind fits right into the definition of racism. If you want to BE involved in ASLA – GET involved – don’t wait for them to come find and elevate you.

      • Lina 06/17/2020 / 6:41 pm

        How can you say that ASLA should Not take a stand on racism, sexism, homophobia, etc when designing for everyone is our profession? Saying we should be colorblind is ridiculous and ignorant. Saying you’re colorblind is the same as saying you decide not to see different people and the prejudices they face everyday because of their race, gender and sexual orientation. Saying you’re colorblind means you’re designing a space that is one size fits all without the consideration of the community that we are designing for.

        A perfect example of this is the gentrification of low income and POC neighborhoods that landscape architects so often participate in. To be honest calling you ignorant would be me making excuses for you. You are a racist – PERIOD – There is no place for racist in landscape architecture.

        Considering you’re racist remarks and blatant ignorance you need to research Jane Elliot and her experiments, this is probably the easiest way to help you understand and put yourself into other peoples shoes. Which is something you should already be doing as a designer. PERIOD.

      • GORDY 06/29/2020 / 4:34 pm

        First of all Kevin, take it easy on the all caps, it shows your angry white man stamping his feet rage and it is unwelcome, unprofessional, and frankly embarrassing. Second, and this is important, your assertion (twice in one comment, I think we get it) about the “purpose of ASLA” is incorrect. I will go ahead and give you the link:

        You may disagree with the Mission and Values as stated there, but you are incorrect about what ASLA strives for. I understand from some of your other callous and ignorant comments that you are no longer a member of the ASLA; as a member I say, “good riddance.” But since you are no longer a member and so obviously offended and enraged by the articles on this blog, may I suggest you stop reading it, and furthermore, I insist that you keep your vitriol to yourself.

  5. Yasmin M. Fozard 06/07/2020 / 8:45 pm

    Kevin S. Holden you are a racist and you will never be able to design for all the people because you don’t understand the concept. Could you actually go into a black community or any non-white community and really listen to their concerns?

    No one is saying white lives don’t matter. We are saying it has been 400 years of unfair treatment for blacks and it is time for it to stop. I know you are afraid of anyone who is different from you or maybe entitled.

  6. Mark johnson 06/09/2020 / 6:40 pm

    This is all just virtue signaling. Over the past half-century, people have been taught that there is evidence and studies that are actually only opinions, lies, and propaganda. If one bothered to go look at the “evidence”, they would find this is all smoke and mirrors.

    As Morgan Freeman says, the way to stop racism is to stop calling men “white” and “black” (we are all men). Everyone I know or have heard from is disgusted by the recent death of Lloyd George.

    Now, I expect someone to call me a racist for not bowing to the politically correct lies that have been propagated over the past several decades. I don’t pay my dues for this nonsense.

    • Kevin S Holden 06/10/2020 / 8:50 am

      As adults with decades of adult life experience, we can see the problem and can understand why it’s so difficult to reason with the generations who suffer from a biased educational system that has eschewed truth – teaching false history and leading youth to erroneous conclusions. It is nearly impossible to reason with these victims: the brainwashed don’t know they’ve been brainwashed, and it’s always easier to fool someone than to convince them that they’ve been fooled. Most will never have the courage to face the fact that their belief system is founded on rotting lies. Unfortunately, trying to reason with them just enrages them.

      • ArizonaLandscapeArchitect 06/17/2020 / 5:56 pm

        I am shocked that both of these commentors writing in critique of this statement are in charge of designing public space. I googled both of you, I know that part of your jobs are working in the public realm.

        If you don’t understand that there is a difference between the experiences of black people, people of color and white people in this county, I recommend you start listening to your colleagues of color, or get in touch with NOMA, or read the statement that Open Architecture Collaborative just put out, or listen to the 1619 podcast by the New York Times or read any of the books circulating by black authors on race and America.

        This is a time of powerful change in the country, and while our profession has far to go, ASLA is starting along a path of awakening with these words.

        If you don’t believe in this statement, and you are working as a landscape architect, you are doing harm in the communities that you work in.

      • Lina 06/17/2020 / 6:54 pm

        You really have some nerve to talk about brainwashing when so many historic facts are skewed, omitted, and turned into works of fiction by American history books for the sole purpose of hiding the true racist and blood thirsty American history.

        The younger generations are only now starting to learn about this. Meanwhile your generation is brainwashed by these works of fiction that so conveniently aligns with your prejudices against minorities.

        The only reason you’re mad is because the younger generation with so called little experience is finally holding you accountable and you want to live in a world where you’re comfortably racists.

        Time to sit down and eat your tartor tot green bean casserole instead of embarrassing yourself in front of the entire landscape architecture community.

    • Sally Anderson 06/15/2020 / 11:54 pm

      His name was George Floyd not Lloyd George. If one bothered to go look at the actual evidence they would find smoke and mirrors? If one bothered to care they would get the details correct and would not see any of this as “nonsense”

  7. millennial snowflake designer 06/09/2020 / 10:35 pm

    can y’all racist boomer landscape architects in the comments please just go ahead and retire so we can actually make a positive, significant change in the world?

    at least make an attempt to consider the perspectives of others, even for a second. painful, I know, but gets easier with practice.

  8. Mark Johnson Civitas 06/17/2020 / 8:03 pm

    Just to clarify I do not know the Mark Johnson above and these are not my statements or opinions. Mark Johnson, Civitas

  9. Robert Carter 06/17/2020 / 10:23 pm

    Mr. Holden, Johnson, et al.

    I know that you’ve lived your entire life in the fulfilled expectation that people should and will listen to you. I know that living with privilege builds up a learned entitlement that, when it’s diminished in any way in order to make room for others, can feel like a loss, like suffering. On closer examination, it feels like a vague threat and prompts subconscious thoughts like “what if there’s not enough for me?”. I know that men of your generation were not taught or expected to develop emotional intelligence, either to examine their own complex emotions or to genuinely empathize with other people. I know that when you go to Harvard, you feel that you have received the best education in the world. Perhaps it feels like a validation for every opinion you develop thereafter. And I know that for centuries our entire reality in this country (and many others) has operated to reinforce and validate everything about you.The issue that is now coming to a head is that consensus reality has been unequal for centuries, and continues to be.

    You are educated men. It is not the job of anyone to offer you evidence or enlightenment, when so many books, so many dissertations, articles, etc. (pick your medium) have been published on this and related topics by scholars and experts far better informed that you or I. You are adults. You are fully capable of finding and analyzing sources, absorbing new information, and evolving your beliefs and opinions. There’s no time like the present to exercise mental plasticity!

    The truth is that, regardless of your personal views, the majority understand that these are real issues that require attention before we can move forward as a society. While our country may have “moved on” from colonization and slavery and all the lethal, unjust policies enacted over the past few hundred years, the “moving on” never involved proper acknowledgement, restitution, or healing. If we look past our own white noses, the unresolved inequities are just below the thin veneer of “normalcy” that we white people think holds everything together. It is actually very easy to see. Most of us see it clearly. The fact that you do not is an embarrassment.

    With all due respect, your opinions and the voice in which you espouse them here is in very poor taste. These sentiments are short-sighted, outdated, and harmful in ways you don’t seem to grasp. These comments you have made are beneath you, the organizations, and the profession you represent.

  10. Sarah Evenson 06/18/2020 / 2:57 pm

    Wow, I came here to call out Mark and Kevin based on some screen shots that a fellow LA shared (yes, we snowflakes are keeping tabs on your comments so that they can be used against you when, inevitably, the organizations you work through become embarrassed by your outspoken ignorance). I am so heartened to see that many of you showed up to respond to their callous and bigoted commentary. With so many resources available right now, they have no excuse not to educate themselves (although I hold out little hope for anything but false piousness and self-serving regret once they start losing credibility in the profession after we hold them accountable for their words). We need to cultivate a culture that has no tolerance for racist world views (but of course, one that is open to educating those who are willing to listen). I’m ashamed that they feel comfortable espousing these views in a public forum.

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