#FutureArchitectFriday: Jasir Mills
Hi readers! It’s #FutureArchitectFriday. A day to celebrate those pushing themselves to becoming licensed architects.
My name is Khalid Jasir Mills. Although, I just go by “Jasir.”
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Currently, I am a 2nd-Year Architecture Major at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I will graduate May of 2022 with my Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and will surely begin the path to pursuing my master’s degree.
How would you describe your experience as a Black Architecture student?
As a black LGBTQ+ architecture student, I have found my experience to be challenging, but unforgettable. With Architecture, I have been pushed academically, socially, and professionally. Whenever I find myself wandering into places of self-doubt, I turn to the higher-level black architecture students for mentorship or advice. Even within my major, I have met a few Black LGBTQ+ students, which made me feel even more persistent to keep striving for success. Watching them present and hearing their feedback has helped drive my motivation to obtain my degree.
Why do you want to get your license?
I want to get my license because I have never really had a lot of role models that I could relate to growing up. When I thought of “Architecture” or “design”, I could not really recall seeing a lot of black LGBTQ+ figures that I could follow. Even as I make my way further into my education and make more connections, it has become more and more noticeable how little representation there is of black architects/designers. With my license, I want to be able to design my own future and hopefully spaces where black people can design theirs too.
My biggest influence would have to be the circumstances that I grew up in. My family comes from a low-income environment and often did not have resources or privileges that we could take for granted. Right before I graduated high school, I experienced a parental loss, which changed my life completely. Despite it all, I still graduated from Early College with my high school diploma and Associates Degree while preparing to begin my higher education in the studies of Architecture. With the love and support from my family, I still overcame that hurdle and what felt to be impossible. With every wall that has ever manifested itself in my path, every fall and success has led me to where I am and who I have become.
How important is representation?
For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a designer. Although I couldn’t articulate it at the time, I was fascinated by the composition of buildings and the language they embodied. However, when I was a kid, I didn’t see a lot of people that look like me in workrooms, classrooms, offices, or as designers. Even now, it’s still far and few in between. I didn’t have or know of any black male architect that I could look up to. At least, not in my proximity. Once, I got to college, I began to form more connections and meet more black creators and designers. At some point in the past, I heard someone say to “Be the representation that you want.” It is important for Black people to have spaces that are designed for them by black architects and creators. Hopefully, I can become more than just an idea, but a reality that younger black LGBTQ+ boys like me can look up to.