008: Representation in Design with Chantel Ragoo
Updated: Feb 1, 2022
I can’t wait for you to hear this episode related to the very important work happening in social justice activism and the critical anti-racism work here at home and around the world. This episode coincides with Scholar Strike for Black Lives in Canada happening on September 9 and 10, 2020. Thousands of academics in higher education will be participating to show solidarity and protest anti-Black, racist and colonial police brutality in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere. During the Scholar Strike, we will pause our teaching and administrative duties. The idea is to use this time to organize opportunities to discuss, reflect and take action on police brutality and violence.
Joining me today is my friend and former colleague, Chantel Ragoo, National Sales Director for MOTHER Denim. Chantel now works in the realm of fashion, but she started her career in the design and print production world. She’s excited to share her career path in the design and fashion industries, as well as add her voice to the discussion about Black representation in industry.
Key Notes From My Discussion with Chantel:
No two days are the same as a National Sales Director for a fashion brand!
Anything goes in in the world of fashion and design, art and music so there’s no need to set creative limits
Communication, time management and teamwork skills are transferable to lots of different industries so use the opportunities in school to hone them!
Chantel finds one of the most challenging aspects of her work is to ensure that she’s not taken advantage of (in terms of the amount of time worked, for example)
Work-life balance is challenging
Asking for help is important
Stop, drop and roll really works
Working with a great team, taking time to have fun and having goals to hit bring Chantel joy in her work
Chantel believes that the reason only an estimated 3% of graphic designers are Black is because of lack of opportunity; the fact that they don’t see it as an accessible career path
To help promote greater inclusion at a university level in the world of design and print, we can work to incorporate touch conversations into our lectures, help organize fundraising efforts as a class and ultimately, recognizing the responsibility that those of us with white privilege have
Chantel is her middle name and she has found that muting her first name has (unfortunately) opened up opportunities for her
It’s about equity, not equality; getting the right tools in the hands on the people to level the playing field
It’s not enough to say you don’t like something; come to the table with an idea or solution to move thought into action
“If you know better, do better.” - Chantel’s Mom
But Chantel believes that when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, not enough people have the critical information they need to do better
Difficult conversations are hard for everyone but they still need to happen
It’s everyone’s job to learn about anti-racism; it’s not on the Black community to teach us
Just because Chantel’s a Black woman, she wants us to know that she doesn’t have all the answers, that she’s still learning and that it’s an ongoing process
There are so many resources to learn about these important issues that cost no money to access - they’re free! There are no excuses!
Performative anti-racism is not an option; we can’t just say ‘Black Lives Matter’, we have to prove it
Consider doing more than donating money; consider donating your time to organizations that support the cause
It’s important not to typecast Black women as “strong, Black women” because it’s setting a potentially unrealistic standard to live up to and it can make it hard to ask for help
Chantel’s success tips:
Being good to the people around you, especially when you are young and starting out in an industry, can be paramount to your success because you’re creating good energy for yourself and building a strong reputation
Take initiative and don’t be afraid to make mistakes
“If you don’t ask, you will never get!” - Chantel’s Dad
Seek out like minded people to become connected within industry and outside of your industry who offer a unique perspective is important to success
Pay it forward - become a mentor (formal or informal) and give people a chance
Be passionate about what you’re doing
Music by Podington Bear: Flutterbee
Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle
Boat Origami Photo: Boat Origami Photo by Alex on Unsplash
Equality vs. Equity: Equality vs. Equity graphic kit