An open letter to you on Juneteenth.

Today is June 19th, 2020. Back in 1865, on this exact date, news of the end of the Civil War and the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation finally landed in Galveston, Texas. The announcement that the last stronghold of enslaved people was to be freed was made two and a half years after President Lincolns’ order took effect. Read by a Union general, General Order Number 3 began by stating:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free…

This story starts as many diversity and inclusion stories go when you look like us — being asked to volunteer to remedy a systemic problem.

If there’s one thing I quickly discovered working for a corporation: they love to talk about diversity.

A familiar beckoning call and the subsequent dilemma: To not show up and have your interests completely unaccounted for or commit your time to a potentially fruitless and toothless cause.

It’s a sweaty, pre-autumn day in Austin, TX when a group of predominately black and latinx employees is pulled together to tackle the age old problem of representation in the workplace. As designers, we are uniquely equipped to not only understand the machinery at play, but also to figure out a viable strategy that begins to untangle it.

Jan. 17, 2019 3:15AM

“Fuck!” It’s hard to tell if my ears are ringing or if it’s my car’s dying breaths. Look left: no headlights. My brain and limbs move with the speed of six espresso shots. I quickly check to make sure that my body is still ok; right and left arms: operational, right and left legs: mobile, neck: mobile, but limited range, lips: bleeding and swollen, and tongue reporting no gaping holes in the top or lower rows of teeth. Look left: no headlights. I need my fucking glasses — this becomes nightmarish with my unaided -5.25 eyes. Rummage on my seat…

The spooky R-word that most people prefer not to think about: racism.

If that word made you squirm, thanks for reading this. Feeling uncomfortable is hard, so I appreciate you taking this first step out of your comfort zone.

Also, this article presupposes that you are vaguely aware that systemic racism exists. This is not to convince you that it does; so, so, so many people have done that already and more eloquently than I could. This is to share a personal epiphany that recently came to me that affects all of us.

For context, IBM recently sponsored 7 others and myself to complete the Beyond Diversity training in preparation to facilitate…

Image borrowed from Your Black Friend by Ben Passmore

I am Lawrence. I am 24 years old. I am a designer and developer. I love anything that resembles math or science. I am highly extroverted. I am always listening to music (logged over 93k minutes on Spotify last year). I do not eat enough veggies. I have watched The Office upwards of 10 times through. I think my mom is a superhero. I want more than anything to use technology and design to leave this world a better place. I worry that I won’t have the time or opportunity to achieve that goal.

You know, normal people things.


“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.” — Alexis Carrel

2017 kicked my ass.

So far, that is.

That’s after specifically making a plan to kick its ass. On December 31st, 2016, I did what many people do: made New Year’s Resolutions, all with the hope of being me, but to the power of two or three. With the year being more than halfway over, it seems now is a great time to check-in.

Additionally, this year from start to about a couple weeks ago, my life has been going Mach speed, and my head’s been…

A direct response to Trump’s question directed to the Black community.

I decided I’d take a stab at Trump’s question, considering I’m more than qualified as a black American.

I’d mention some of the policies (or lack thereof), but let’s be real, this election has stopped being about the facts long ago. Much like this election, this post should be about the facts, but isn’t.

The facts have long been known, and with any election, people vote in their own best interests. Ideally, they support the candidate whose policies most align with the direction they wish for country. …

Terence Crutcher with his hands up, moments before he was fatally shot.

Since I was young, my mom has been having the obligatory talk with me. First when I was maybe 8 or so. Again at 13. Then 15. More thoroughly so when I started driving.

“Always respect an officer,” she told me, “He’ll have a position before you say a word.” “Say ‘Yes, sir.’ and ‘No, sir.’ and always keep your hands visible. Don’t make sudden movements. And above all else, comply.”

This conversation is one that’s been passed down through my entire family, male and female, and most all Black families that I know.

We have seen time and time…

Because I feel like I can’t cover everything I want in one installment.

This issue is very close to my heart. I know so many people, arguably too many people, that are fighting this relentless battle. Close family. Best friends. Successful and unsuccessful people. It’s something that status or money or culture can’t shield you from.

For those who don’t know me as well, I’ve fought hard battles with mental illness in the past. I don’t think I had knowledge of it then, but as far back as I can remember, I didn’t feel nearly as happy as most kids. These negative feelings and bleak thoughts grew silently, where they hit their peak…

Yes, this is a play off of the title of Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. No, I’m not done. Yes, this is still a plug.

I’m only a couple chapters in and wow, this book touches on so many of my interests: technology, design, human behavior, business, and their interconnection. I won’t delve too much into the details and rob you of the opportunity to hear it from someone who’s lived it for decades, but I do want to share some of my takeaways.

The first and most salient point is that everything is designed. We tend to…

Lawrence Humphrey

Systems thinker & storyteller.

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