“Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.” — W.E.B. Du Bois
As the renewed visibility of racial injustice has inspired so many to ask how they can work against racism, we at Facebook app and Instagram are asking ourselves the same question. As a discipline, user research needs to do much better to ensure it is not perpetuating exclusion of Black people and their experiences. After all, it’s embedded within the same racialized systems of exclusion that led to research focusing on the Black experience in the first place. In his 1903 classic, “The Souls of Black Folk,” W.E.B. Du Bois scientifically declared the “color line” to be the problem of the 20th century. Sadly, the problem still persists today.
We have come together as Black researchers and allies from Facebook app and Instagram to highlight the role of UX research in perpetuating racism. Our hope is that surfacing this topic will lead to systemic change and, ultimately, improve the lives of Black people — our fellow Black colleagues included. What are the biggest challenges faced by UX research when it comes to racial justice, and how can we overcome them? What policies, practices, and knowledge structures must we question to understand and improve Black users’ experiences? To begin to answer these questions, we highlight four areas of focus: fairly distributing power, addressing research policy and practices, building a sustained research agenda, and centering Black experiences.