original photo: Joe Angeles/WUSTL Photos

Yolande Daniels is founding partner of Long Island City, N.Y.–based Studio SUMO.

My reaction when I first read about Whitney Young’s keynote address to the AIA was surprise that I went through architecture school without hearing of his speech. It had been effectively erased from the collective consciousness of the '80s and '90s.

Difference and opportunities exist within architecture now. Women and people of color hire architects and seek to see themselves represented in their hiring practices. Still, as a whole, the profession remains elite and white despite continual voices that seek to [expand] it, from the closely guarded academic canon to the male-dominated construction and development fields.

This is not an issue of righting the past; instead it is an issue of building equitable and just society in the present and for the future. "Restricted, exclusive (homogeneous) neighborhoods” and subdivisions are being built today.

Northerners are moving to the new South to live off pensions for less in gated communities. Cities like Wilmington, N.C., are being reshaped by north/south migrations, prejudices, and subdivisions.

I do not read anger in Young’s words. I read directness and bluntness. Somehow, even now it seems when a black person speaks directly, their words are received as anger and as anger diminished.

I believe that Whitney Young’s criticism’s hold in the face of mass gentrification and urban displacement, mass criminalization/incarceration and premature death, and other seemingly benign entitled views that are based upon white supremacist values. Is it really okay in the 21st century to be in a restaurant or store or town and see perhaps only one person of color eating dinner or shopping or listening to a concert—except for servers? How many are shunted or die so that one may thrive?