Priviledged Participation is a series of workshops that engages participants in exploring the role of the design community in platforming allyship at the intersections of coloniality, race, and culture in contemporary society, and in light of our current sociopolitical climate.

The organizers hope participants in these workshops will create a community of redirective practice and take up their own efforts to ally with a pluraversity of design epistomologies, ontologies and research.

The first iteration of these workshops, a conversation exploring decoloniality, photography, design and writing with Teju Cole, occurred November 7, 2016 at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Design.

The second iteration, a 3 hour workshop with the attendees of NORDES, is scheduled to occur on Friday June 16, 2017

The organizers of this workshop are acting in solidarity with

…colonialism is not simply content to impose its rule upon the present and the future of a dominated country. Colonialism is not satisfied merely with holding a people in its grip and emptying the native’s brain of all form and content. By a kind of perverse logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts it, disfigures and destroys it

-Franz Fanon, The Wretched…1961 (as quoted in Walter Mignolo's Delinking)

What is termed globalization is the culmination of a process that began with the constitution of America and colonial/modern Eurocentered capitalism as a new global power. One of the fundamental axes of this model of power is the social classification of the world’s population around the idea of race, a mental construction that expresses the basic experience of colonial domination and pervades the more important dimensions of global power, including its specific rationality: Eurocentrism. The racial axis has a colonial origin and character, but it has proven to be more durable and stable than the colonialism in whose matrix it was established. Therefore, the model of power that is globally hegemonic today presupposes an element of coloniality.

-Anibal Quijano, Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America

...the fact that certain members of the oppressor class join the oppressed in their struggle for liberation, thus moving from one pole of the contradiction to the other... Theirs is a fundamental role, and has been throughout the history of this struggle. It happens, however, that as they cease to be exploiters or indifferent spectators or simply the heirs of exploitation and move to the side of the exploited, they almost always bring with them the marks of their origin: their prejudices and their deformations, which include a lack of confidence in the people's ability to think, to want, and to know. Accordingly, these adherents to the people's cause constantly run the risk of falling into a type of generosity as malefic as that of the oppressors. The generosity of the oppressors is nourished by an unjust order, which must be maintained in order to justify that generosity. Our converts, on the other hand, truly desire to transform the unjust order; but because of their background they believe that they must be the executors of the transformation. They talk about the people, but they do not trust them; and trusting the people is the indispensable precondition for revolutionary change. A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, than by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust.

-Paolo Friere, Pedagogy of the oppressed

there is no modernity without coloniality…coloniality is constitutive, and not derivative, of modernity

-Walter D Mignolo

About The Workshop

Recent developments in our current sociopolitical climate have led to entrenched factions around racial and cultural hegemony. We see evidence of this polarity in the design discourse. While some scholars and practitioners are convinced by the imperative to decolonize the discipline, a vigorous opposition remains to the notion of West-centric design as an imperial force. These positions are debated across the discipline – from design practitioners to researchers and scholars alike – occasionally to a contentious or even vitriolic level.

This iteration of the workshop series is a part of the Nordes 2017 DESIGN + POWER programme.


NORDES Conference attendees are invited to register for the workshop. Please consider signing up for them quickly to participate.

The workshop has place for max 25 persons, and lasts 3 hours.

To register please email your name and "Privileged Participation Workshop (Workshop 3)" to Vlad Lyakhov:

Dimeji Onafuwa

Dimeji Onafuwa is a design consultant, researcher and PHD candidate with 15 years experience in professional practice. His research in the field of social design focuses on design’s impact on the costs of contributing to a commons. His most recent consulting work is with a Fortune 500 company on Open Data and the commons.

Jabe Bloom

Jabe is an award-winning international speaker. He is frequently invited to be a keynote speaker and track chair at international conferences, addressing such topics as Failing Well, Management as Design, Learn Like a Scientist and Flow Thinking. His deep practical experience, constant experimentation, and extensive theoretical investigations and readings inform his public speaking and provide a foundational praxis for his active mentorship to a diverse group of colleagues, clients and entrepreneurs.

Jabe is currently pursuing a PhD at Carnegie Mellon University. He lives in Pittsburgh with his partner Molly, their daughter and son; and an lovely grumpy old Jack Russel Terrier.

People of color, women, and gays -- who now have greater access to the centers of influence that ever before -- are under pressure to be well-behaved when talking about their struggles. There is an expectation that we can talk about sins but no one must be identified as a sinner: newspapers love to describe words or deeds as "racially charged" even in those cases when it would be more honest to say "racist"; we agree that there is rampant misogyny, but misogynists are nowhere to be found; homophobia is a problem but no one is homophobic. One cumulative effect of this policed language is that when someone dares to point out something as obvious as white privilege, it is seen as unduly provocative. Marginalized voices in America have fewer and fewer avenues to speak plainly about what they suffer; the effect of this enforced civility is that those voices are falsified or blocked entirely from the discourse.

-Teju Cole, The white-savior industrial complex. The Atlantic March, 21 2012


Am I Doing It Right?

Even experienced allies aren’t always sure what to say or do. These reminders can keep you on the path to being a source of support and empowerment:
-CARRIE GAFFNEY, Anatomy of an Ally from Teaching Tolerance

Code of Conduct

A primary goal of the Privileged Participation workshop is to be inclusive to the largest number of contributors, with the most varied and diverse backgrounds possible. As such, we are committed to providing a friendly, safe and welcoming environment for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ability, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and religion (or lack thereof). This code of conduct outlines our expectations for all those who participate in our community, as well as the consequences for unacceptable behavior. We invite all those who participate in the Privileged Participation workshop to help us create safe and positive experiences for everyone.

1. Purpose
A primary goal of the Privileged Participation workshop is to be inclusive to the largest number of contributors, with the most varied and diverse backgrounds possible. As such, we are committed to providing a friendly, safe and welcoming environment for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ability, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and religion (or lack thereof). This code of conduct outlines our expectations for all those who participate in our community, as well as the consequences for unacceptable behavior. We invite all those who participate in the Privileged Participation workshop to help us create safe and positive experiences for everyone.

2. Decolonial Community
A supplemental goal of this Code of Conduct is to increase understanding and participation in Decolonial communities by encouraging participants to recognize and strengthen the relationships between our actions and their effects on our and other communities. Communities mirror the societies in which they exist and positive action is essential to counteract the many forms of inequality and abuses of power that exist in society. If you see someone who is making an extra effort to ensure our community is welcoming, friendly, and encourages all participants to contribute to the fullest extent, we want to know.

3. Expected Behavior
The following behaviors are expected and requested of all community members:
  • Participate in an authentic and active way. In doing so, you contribute to the health and longevity of this community.
  • Exercise consideration and respect in your speech and actions.
  • Attempt collaboration before conflict.
  • Refrain from demeaning, discriminatory, or harassing behavior and speech.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings and of your fellow participants. Alert community leaders if you notice a dangerous situation, someone in distress, or violations of this Code of Conduct, even if they seem inconsequential.
  • Remember that community event venues may be shared with members of the public; please be respectful to all patrons of these locations.
  • When in doubt, ask for consent to: photograph, record, quote, or touch other participants
4. Privileged Participants Responsibilities
The Privileged Participation workshop prioritizes marginalized people's safety over privileged people's comfort. Privileged Participants should expect that they may experience uncomfortable and even distressing conversations. The organizers expect privileged participants to be responsible for their own safety and will not act on complaints regarding:
  • 'Reverse' -isms, including 'reverse racism,' 'reverse sexism,' and 'cisphobia'
  • Reasonable communication of boundaries, such as "leave me alone," "go away," or "I'm not discussing this with you."
  • Communicating in a 'tone' you don't find congenial
  • Calling out privileged behaviors, even when those behaviors are not intended to threaten marginalized people. Privileged Participants should expect to be held to account for the impact of their actions, not the intent.
  • Criticizing racist, sexist, hetrosexist, cissexist, or otherwise oppressive behavior or assumptions
5. Unacceptable Behavior
The following behaviors are considered harassment and are unacceptable within our community:
  • Violence, threats of violence or violent language directed against another person.
  • Sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist or otherwise discriminatory jokes and language.
  • Posting or displaying sexually explicit or violent material.
  • Posting or threatening to post other people's personally identifying information ("doxing").
  • Personal insults, particularly those related to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or disability.
  • Inappropriate photography or recording.
  • Inappropriate physical contact. You should have someone's consent before touching them.
  • Unwelcome sexual attention. This includes, sexualized comments or jokes; inappropriate touching, groping, and unwelcomed sexual advances.
  • Deliberate intimidation, stalking or following (online or in person).
  • Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behavior.
  • Sustained disruption of community events, including talks and presentations.
6. Consequences of Unacceptable Behavior
Unacceptable behavior from any community member, including sponsors and those with decision-making authority, will not be tolerated. Anyone asked to stop unacceptable behavior is expected to comply immediately. If a community member engages in unacceptable behavior, the community organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, up to and including a temporary ban or permanent expulsion from the workshop without warning.

7. Reporting Guidelines
If you are subject to or witness unacceptable behavior, or have any other concerns, please notify a workshop organizer as soon as possible. Additionally, workshop organizers are available to help community members engage with local law enforcement or to otherwise help those experiencing unacceptable behavior feel safe. In the context of in-person events, organizers will also provide escorts as desired by the person experiencing distress.

8. Addressing Grievances
If you feel you have been falsely or unfairly accused of violating this Code of Conduct, you should notify the workshop organizers with a concise description of your grievance. Workshop organizers will mediate attempts to resolve grievances to the extent that both parties are willing to participate in a mediation.

9. Scope
We expect all community participants (contributors, paid or otherwise; sponsors; and other guests) to abide by this Code of Conduct in all community venues–online and in-person–as well as in all one-on-one communications. This code of conduct and its related procedures also applies to unacceptable behavior occurring outside the scope of community activities when such behavior has the potential to adversely affect the safety and well-being of community members.

10. Contact info
Joshua Bloom : jabe at cmu dot edu

11. License and attribution
Creative Commons License This Code of Conduct is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License

Portions of text dervied from

Revision 1.0 Posted November 5 2016
There’s a whole fucking world out there where women and gay men and trans wo/men and racial minorities and the disabled and the overweight and people who are intrinsically and inescapably “different” for any reason are made fun of, marginalized, turned into punchlines. There’s a whole fucking world out there which expects us all to be perfect according to some arbitrary definition and seeks to punish us if we’re not. There’s a whole fucking world out there where people who don’t conform to that standard are not only ridiculed and made to feel not good enough, but can also find themselves at real risk of physical harm. Where they’re denied rights, job opportunities, friendships, votes, equality. If you want to use “politically incorrect” humor that targets those people, you have the entire rest of the bloody world to do it, but you can’t do it here.

--Melissa McEwan