#MentorMonday: Ras Tafari Cannady II, AICP
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: Ras Tafari Cannady II, AICP
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and Planning and when?
My father initially sparked my interest in Urban Planning from a young age. My father, a double alumnus of Howard University worked as City Planner for the Los Angeles Department of City Planning and frequently took me to work with him. While there, I was able to converse with City Planners from different specializations, creating my affinity to become an Urban Planner. This was further bolstered during my tenure at Hampton University when one of my professors taught a series of classes on the intersections between land use and transportation.
What does it mean to be a black planner to you? Do you feel that you have more responsibility?
To be a black planner means that you have to be extremely cognizant of the disparities in neighborhoods around the country. Black planners have to be more in tune with the structural implications of policies/ordinances and laws that protect us in order to effectively plan for communities of color. In a field where we’re disproportionately underrepresented, it is a black planner’s responsibility to mentor and usher in the future black planners in any way we can.
What are some obstacles you’ve experienced or currently experiencing as a black planner/designer?
Lack of representation and lack of commonality have been ongoing occurrences that I’ve dealt with as a black planner. While it can initially be an obstacle to networking and building relationships, I’ve been able to overcome it by being rising above it and not let it sway me from my long term goals.
Should we ignore race in this profession?
If you could give advice to a black student in Architecture /Urban Planning 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 extremely important. Whether it be in a corporate setting or an educational setting, the lack of commonality can create isolation as well as roadblocks to success. Representation in a company is key in order to have a diverse skill set that can be used to tackle complex issues at any given time.