#MentorMonday: Jonathan Clark
Welcome to #MentorMonday! Mondays are dedicated to celebrating Black LICENSED Architects, Designers, and individuals in the profession of Architecture!
The questions asked to these individuals are to allow us into their lives and to be used as an inspiration. I hope you all enjoy this series.
Name: Jonathan Clark
Hometown: Huntsville, Alabama
What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?
I grow up extremely poor with 3 other brother siblings. At one point we all had to sleep in the same bed together because our mother could not afford a home with the proper amount of space for each of us to have our own room. I watched her struggle to keep us feed, clothed, and housed while only making around $25,000 a year working as a bank teller. I vowed to build her a house that she deserved when I grew older.
What does it mean to be a black architect/designer to you? Do you feel that you have more responsibility?
I think becoming a black architect is one of the most exciting things. Less than 2% of all licensed architects are black. Being a black professional of any sort is a great accomplish in itself; however, becoming a black architect seems to have a sense of more value because of the scarcity of black professionals in this arena. I am extremely grateful, as architects are well respected pillars of society. With that being said, I think that I have a two-fold responsibility: to protect the health and welfare of all and to represent black culture in my profession.
What are some obstacles you’ve experienced or currently experiencing as a black architect/designer?
Because there are not many black architects, I usually do not come in to contact with other black architects while conducting my business. I have gotten extremely use to this, so much so, that it does not even bother me anymore. Because of this, one obstacle that I face is getting others of a different cultural background to initial accept the skills and ideas that I have to bring to the table. Because others do not regularly come in contact with a black architect, they are not sure how to interact with me and I end up having to prove my expertise in order to solidify my position and technical capabilities.
Should we ignore race in this profession?
If you could give advice to a black student in Architecture school right now, what would it be?
Describe a moment you were at your lowest on your pursuit to licensure and how did you overcome it?
How important is representation?
Representation is very important. People need to feel acknowledged and respected. Also people must have the opportunity to express themselves and their culture and counted as an important part of society.