In the summer of 2020, the death of George Floyd inspired the world to understand & speak out against systemic racism. The Smithsonian partnered with DME and MERGE design agency to launch Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past, a multi-media initiative created to engage every American in conversations and help build a more equitable future.
Each potential participant brings their own unique perspective and background to these discussions. Many people who should be participating in this conversation aren’t for various reasons—from apathy and ignorance, to simple self-consciousness and fear. Those who are involved often feel fatigued, frustrated and potentially critical of newcomers and their intentions. To meaningfully engage these audiences, we had to understand their outlooks.
If we created a private intimate space with the potential audience, we could speak frankly about a deeply sensitive and emotional topic to better understand the hopes that trigger their engagement and the fears that create withdrawal.
We designed an in-depth qualitative study
Recruited everyday Americans as well as Experts and Advocates already working in the space
Analyzed insights across both groups
Facilitated a workshop to develop features of our initiative
Created a Customer journey map of our participants experience understanding race
We analyzed the results of our study and found 5 distinctly motivated groups who were invested in the subject and had close relationships with those who were most apathetic to these issues
We advised the Smithsonian to use their platform to elevate voices already working in the space to increase trust in the brand's participation.
Interviewees found the process of our study cathartic and thanked us for providing a safe space for them to tell their stories. They found it much easier to approach the subject with people who seem apathetic.
More About Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past
Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past offers a space for dialogue about race. It provides a safe and collaborative place where anyone can share experiences and increase their understanding of the legacy of race and racism.
Drawing on the breadth of the Smithsonian's expertise, research, and collections, our goal is to help advance the work of others. Race and Our Shared Future provides an ecosystem of resources and experiences, both digital and live, featuring real conversations from local communities to national events.
Confronting race and racism is difficult, but necessary work. The Smithsonian strives to amplify your voices in our commitment to building a more equitable path toward our shared future.