Recently, America was once again awoken by protests spurred on by the unjust murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and several others; but this phenomenon is nothing new. America has always had a healthy tolerance for violence against people of color. The very foundation of this country was rooted in the legal and violent policing of Black slaves, and although slavery in the traditional sense has long since been abolished, the unjust policing of people of color has continued on just the same. What’s more is that America has routinely exploited our profession by using architecture to pat itself on the back for no longer being a slave-owning nation when almost nothing is being done to address the many ways in which African Americans are still being persecuted today. More simply put, America (and architecture) is clearly more concerned with marking progress than making it, and one of the many ways the built environment helps do this is via self-important memorials.
But what if architecture were to actually combat police brutality? The result would surely be counter to the neat and static memorial type: a confluence of Black aesthetics, Black narratives, and Black protest. It might even fashion itself as several lacerations into some 18,000 police stations—a constant reminder of America’s immoral past and unfolding future. It might even look like paradise.