MOVING TO ACTION: How Do We Respond to Anti-Black Racism in Urbanist Practices and Conversations?

Joining CUI Senior Fellow Jay Pitter for the second session in a two-part series – Moving to Action: How do we respond to anti-black racism in urbanist practices and conversations? – are Orlando Bailey; Tamika Butler; Anthonia Ogundele; and Will Prosper. This is the second session in a two-part series. During the session, Jay will unpack recommendations from her A Call to Courage open letter and the panelists will present practice case studies applying equity-based placemaking principles. The second half of the session will be dedicated to Q+A for urbanists ready to take tangible actions to integrate more equitable approaches in their practice. It is recommended that participants watch the first event in this series and read the Call to Courage before attending the session. Image by Reza Nik


5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. Meaningful community engagement

Anthonia Ogundele reinforced the need for communities to be brought into decision-making processes at the front end of any policy or planning process. If a project is already in motion, opportunities for true collaboration with community members become limited.

2. Urban professionals must demonstrate humility and flexibility

Tamika Butler underlined the importance of listening with curiosity, and acknowledging that the work you are doing is not guided by you. Urban professionals must be willing not only to listen to community input, but also to build into their projects the flexibility to alter the direction or timeline of their projects based on what they hear from residents.

3. We need to learn to respect different forms of knowledge

Will Prosper emphasized the importance of recognizing and respecting different kinds of intelligence at the table—including emotional, lived, place-based, and academic. When we exclude community members from these conversations, we forgo valuable expertise and experience.

4. We must not shy away from conflict

Orlando Bailey argued that urban professionals need to create space for conflict in community engagement processes. Jay Pitter underscored this point, arguing that it is the responsibility of urban professionals not to shy away from anger, which is a secondary emotion. The panelists agreed that we have to understand the underlying causes of community anger, which is often a signal of feeling unheard, unappreciated, and unvalued. We must provide the space for past traumas to be expressed.

5. Reciprocity is vital

Jay Pitter underlined the importance of reciprocity. A strong social contract needs to be in place with every urban project, and urban professionals need to be clear about the tangible benefits we are extending to community, in addition to what we are asking of them.

Reading &

Jay Pitter

Orlando Bailey

Tamika Butler

Anthonia Ogundele

Will Prosper

A Call to Courage: An Open Letter to Canadian Urbanists, Jay Pitter

CityTalk: How do we respond to anti-Black racism in urbanist practices and conversations? 

Why We Must Talk About Race When We Talk About Bikes, Bicycling, Tamika Butler

Driving While Black, Dr. Gretchen Sorin, New York Public Library Q&A

Stop Killing Us: A Real Life Nightmare, Tamika Butler, 

The Planner’s Beginner Guide to the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

Segregation by Design: Local Politics and Inequality in American CitiesJessica Trounstine, Cambridge University Press  

How do you sign ‘Black Lives Matter’ in ASL? For black deaf Angelenos, it’s complicated, Sonja Sharp, LA Times

 5 essential books to read on making cities anti-racist, Diana Budds, Curbed

Race and Social Equality: A Nervous Area of Government, Susan T. Gooden, Routledge Taylor and Francis Group

America’s Cities were Designed to Oppress, Bryan Lee Jr, CityLab

The Domino EffectUniversity of Orange, Vimeo


Dame Jocelyn Barrow: More Needs To Be Done On Her Lifetime Work On Racial And Multi-Cultural Awareness, Black History 365

The Un-Urbanist Assembly – 23-hour virtual teach-in from Thursday, June 18 through Friday, June 19, Thirvance Group

Transformative Talks: COVID-19, Racism & Delivery Justice, Untokening webinar

Ethós Lab

Creating spaces for Black urbanists