Creative Reaction Lab creates solutions addressing racial injustices and inequities. Something like workshop network, it unites and steers youth to find better approaches to solving the discrimination problem. Based in St. Louis, CRXLAB appeared after a police officer shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, August 9, 2014. St. Louis, the fifth most segregated city in the nation, got possessed by protests. Antionette Carroll, the founder of CRXLAB, was the one who came up with the idea to treat discrimination and inequity by means of design thinking. But not the one you’re well acquainted with.

Creative Reaction Lab: How To Defeat Discrimination

“Racial inequity exists by design, and therefore, only intentional design can dismantle it,” says CRXLAB’s website. As Antionette Carroll claims, design is the tool to reveal publicly main levers of inequity mechanism once created by another design. Trite slogans and banal statements, widely spread around the world but almost inefficient, aren’t for the youth. Art and design is now their language. CRXLAB’s language. This is what the Lab was created for: “to educate, and to guide Black and Latinx youth to design healthier, safer, and more inclusive cities by developing solutions addressing personal and structural forms of racism citizens define as priorities. Through entrepreneurial, action-learning programs, Creative Reaction Lab organizes people representing different expertise, perspectives, and demographics to learn and dialogue about racial inequities and civic engagement, and then, co-creating solutions to pilot and scale.”

Creative Reaction Lab: How To Defeat Discrimination

Targeting on…

Issues of education, employment, gun and domestic violence are now in CRXLAB’s spotlight. Its workshops aren’t just for designers; they also gather policy experts, speakers, community partners, and citizens working in different fields. However, you will never hear Carroll speaking about “design thinking”. The brainstorm, constantly taking place in workshops, unites not only the sympathizers but also the ones who suffer. Here’s the key point: the communities that are impacted the most by a movement should have a prominent place in leading the movement. “You cannot say that you are effectively addressing these issues if you are not including the people affected by them into your efforts, and giving them access to power,” Carroll says. That’s why Lab’s workshops seem to be something like ‘melting pots’: young people of different origin come together to erase the borders in their large society.

Creative Reaction Lab: How To Defeat Discrimination

Carroll, however, doesn’t speak about solutionism, too. She is convinced that roots of racial discrimination and inequity are buried so deep down, that it’s impossible to rip them out immediately. These roots twine the history itself, the mentality, the public opinion. In St. Louis an access to education, food, health, employment, and security vary dramatically from predominantly white neighborhoods to predominantly black ones. Only a madman or a dreamer would say that this situation is easy to be changed. Or solved. That’s why Carroll prefers to use the word “approaches” rather than “solutions” when talking about the results of CRXLAB’s work. “I like the word ‘approach’ because it shows this is not a finite type of solution—it’s flexible, it’s agile,” she says.

Creative Reaction Lab: How To Defeat Discrimination

Ideology in action

CRXLAB has already achieved a lot in their field. Concerning prevalence of domestic violence in marginalized communities, CRXLAB has partnered with the nonprofit Safe Connections to run a workshop in St. Louis that featured a domestic violence survivor and author and an artist who deals with themes of domestic violence in her work. As a result, an advocacy group for male allies appeared named ‘NO MORE Abuse: St. Louis Guys Get It’. This ‘squad’ finds and recruits men who can speak out against domestic violence. The design also plays an enormous role by deceiving expectations: it celebrates survivors instead of painting them as poor victims.

Creative Reaction Lab: How To Defeat Discrimination

CRXLAB has also collaborated with the Washington University in St. Louis’s Gun Violence Initiative. Police officers and members of the community were invited to unite under the common flag. After hearing from an ER doctor from the university’s school of medicine and a local artist, an online platform and public service campaign ‘Body Count’ was created. Its main goal is to reach out indifferent people who are sure they keep steering clear of gun violence. ‘Body Count’ counts the economic costs of gun deaths for the public, thereby “making a direct connection to their own pocketbooks.”

Creative Reaction Lab: How To Defeat Discrimination

 

Redrawing the world

CRXLAB is sure the key to erasing the discrimination borders is somewhere deep in the ocean of people’s perception. Someone once had drawn a terrible picture of mutual hatred and contempt in millions of minds and this picture is extremely solid. Once born, the idea will never die. But it can be redrawn, presented in an alternative way. “To holistically address this issue, it’s time to put the power back into the hands of everyday residents and not just the elite few,” claims Creative Reaction Lab.

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