Be Aware of Tokens and Culturally Inappropriate Drawings

Sketchnote, culture

I was recently graphic facilitating an online session where I had pre-drawn a few elements as a request from my client. One of those elements was a flag on a hill or mountain. I used this fairly often to represent reaching a goal or destination, or something to strive towards.

However, during the session a kind person privately messaged me to say that, while having a mission is great, using imagery of planting flags on land is seen as a symbol of dominance and colonial violence by many marginalized communities.

Once she pointed it out, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t realized it before! I appreciated that she had been kind enough to let me know, and told her so. She made an alternative suggestion as well and while we were on a short break I quickly changed the drawing.

Unconscious bias is so insidious and it takes work to counteract. Avoid drawing anything that could be seen or perceived as stereotypes. This could include clothing items or common symbols for a specific culture. And if someone points out something you’re drawing that’s unintentionally harmful, be open to the feedback. Don’t be hard on yourself, but see it as a teaching moment.

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