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Self-Censoring and Political Correctness

In designing for todays society and multifaceted cultures, at least in America, designers are constantly in the process of checking and double checking their work for any hints of not being politically correct. Did I use the proper name for this, is there enough diversity in this photo, is this package easier to understand or use for one group of people over another, etc. While I agree with many of these principles, when does all this self-censoring become detrimental to both your design and the people who see or use it?

Universal rules surrounding political correctness force us to water down or alter the messages our designs communicate. Our culture is thought to be based on diversity and many peoples ideals being recognized. When designers all make their work follow the status quo, they make the images and ideas presented to the masses through their designs the same, or very similar, which stunts creative thought and new ideas. These rules are enforced largely through the fear of what the media would do if the “rules” are somehow ignored.

I am not trying to imply that designers should disregard all political correctness and start making fun of mentally ill people or something, i am more implying something along the line of, is using the word black instead of African American really mean your racist? I don’t think so, in this case, because i believe that black refers to a larger group of people, and African Americans seem to mean people actually from Africa, and does not refer to the Black American population as a whole. Another example is, say you have a group picture, like the kind you would see on a university brochure, how much diversity do you need to show before its an expectable photo? How many ethnic backgrounds need to be in the picture until “enough” have been represented? Just using George Mason as an example, if you needed to represent every background that attends this school, there would need to be a lot of people and  the minority in the photo would be white. So what about for a less diverse school?

All of these questions that seem to have no good answer plague the minds of designers in America and in ways that, I think, are not good for our growth as a society in the long run. But where is the balance between political correctness and supporting creative thought?