A Hundred Racist Designs: Part Two

Pierce Gordon, Ph.D.
26 min readAug 3, 2020

To build an antiracist future, we have to take a hard look at today’s creations.

Design is the process by which the politics of one world become the constraints on another.

Fred Turner

I’m glad you’re back.

If you made it here first, you might want to check out A Hundred Racist Designs, Part 1. It will clarify the context for you.

If you have, I’d love to hear how your reflection went. What racist objects inhabit your daily life? What changes can we make so the things we make are more equitable? How are we making oppression more visible to our objects, day by day? It’s important to note how truth-telling is only one step on the journey. What’s next for you?

Glad to hear your perspective. How, to the task at hand.

Let’s reclarify the question: What are the designs that were designed to, or are used as unique leverage points towards racial inequality?

Let’s dive in.

51. Cameras

Heard of the Shirley Card?

Named after Shirley Page, a white woman who worked at Kodak which “was used to ensure the colors and densities of the prints were calibrated correctly,” which was in turn used as the standard of determining how pictures were taken across the economic reach of the Kodak company?


According to Roth, the dynamic range of the film — both still photo stock and motion picture — was biased toward white skin. In 1978, the filmmaker Jean-Luc…