Black Stories/04: Maurice Woods

Maurice Woods, Executive Director and Founder of the Inneract Project Joins Sr. Media Producer Justin James Lopez and talks about how to use design to create a better future.

Maurice Woods is the Executive Director and Founder of the Inneract Project, a 17 year nonprofit that is empowering the next generation of Black, Latinx and underrepresented designers of color through skills, awareness and mentoring. As a professional designer, his work experience spans over 20 years across advertising, a design agency, and startup and large tech companies such as BSSP, Pentagram Design, and Yahoo. Maurice is currently a Principal Designer at Microsoft, and before entering design, played professional basketball in Europe and Asia for seven seasons. He has won multiple design awards, featured in multiple publications and is also a Jefferson Award winner. In 2006, he wrote a series of essays called “Envisioning Blackness in American Graphic Design”. In 2016, he received the AIGA San Francisco Fellow Award.


  • Full Episode Transcript
  • Justin James Lopez:
  • Hey you all. Welcome to Amazon's Black Stories podcast, where we highlight the stories of black designers, researchers and creatives from all around the world. I'm your host, Justin James Lopez, and today I'm joined by Maurice Mo Woods. And we talk about how life is by design and everything in life is by design, and thinking about how we can use that knowledge to redesign a better world. Let's hear his story. So Mo, thanks for joining me today. I think that this is a really exciting episode. I've been excited to learn more about your story and I've read and seen a lot of the work that you do. But for the listeners here, talk to us a little bit about where you are today, at this point in time. You are a designer, you're also the founder and executive director of the Inneract Project. But talk to us a little bit about what that means.

  • Maurice Woods:
  • Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm a man of many hats, much to my own demise at some point. It's like I dabble in between providing for my family and then also following the thing that I really, really love to do. And through all of that, I try to do my best to make sense with things that I can and cannot do and try to have the most impact on different people that I work with. From a career standpoint, I'm a designer at Microsoft. Specifically, I'm a principal designer. So up to this point, I've been an individual contributor, which basically means that I lead projects. Sometimes I manage designers on these projects. I set the principles or set various different practices for how to move design forward. Sometimes I'm also actually designing things, so I'm getting my hands dirty at some point and ultimately just trying to be a leader on the team, the best that I can be to help support other designers to design their best work.

  • And it can be a challenging thing to do because once you get to a point where you're leading projects, you have the responsibility of making sure that you're going through all the proper steps to ensure that you're building the best experience for people. And it's not only just about just designing, it's about a strategy and thinking through how do you operationalize design for this project so that things get done in the right way, including research, content designers, PMs and engineers, and sort of create the swim lanes for everybody to sort of work in and work together and at the same time, be visionary in that approach and make sure that the concepts and things that are being talked about are actually leading to making sure that teams are activated towards the right goals for the project. It's not always very easy and streamlined to do. Sometimes they're tough conversations.

  • Sometimes there's a bit of work around just getting everybody on the same page, but it is part of the job to make sure that I use whatever means I can, whatever experience I have to keep the project moving forward and getting it to the customers in a way where they can actually improve their lives or at least make the work that they're doing a lot more efficient and better. So that's essentially what I do at Microsoft as a principal designer. Man, I think I've been there, man, for about four and a half years. It's crazy. It's seems like, man, whew. Man, your boy been there for a minute, and tech years, that's long.

  • Justin James Lopez:
  • Yeah. You're a borderline lifer, right? You heard this concept like.

  • Maurice Woods:
  • Listen, man. Tech years, it's like I've been there for 20 years, man. It's different than when I used to work the design agency route where you could be at a place for many, many years. Now you're there for two years, man, you're kind of looking to bounce out and move on the next thing, especially here in the Bay Area where there's so much competition. There's so many companies and everybody's vying for talent here. So I've been there for a while, but the thing of it is, is that although that does bring me a lot of joy, it really brings out the creative side of me. The passion that I have for the things that I do with Inneract Projects is what really drives me personally. I think that I've become so accustomed to Inneract Project and working on that and working to sort of bring opportunities to people of color, specifically black and Latinx folks that it's been just part of who I am. And I carry that across all the things that I do, in my personal and work life. It's been 17 years.

  • Justin James Lopez:
  • Yeah. Yeah. You've been working on that for a while.

  • Maurice Woods:
  • Yeah, man. I mean, listen, this work, it never stops. You got to be committed. I've seen a lot of people get in there and get out and it's not any testament to their work or their will, it's just, it's hard work and it takes a lot of time and a lot of dedication and it's multi-layer. So that's what I do, man, Inneract Project, Microsoft. And my last and most, I think, covenant private thing is my personal life, being a dad and being a husband. My son specifically right now, he's playing basketball. I used to play professional basketball in Europe, in Asia for many, many years. It's funny, man, because it's like I ask him who his favorite basketball player is and he said, "You, daddy." I was like, man, really? But I'm like, man. I mean, Curry, Durant, LeBron. Me, really? All right. Okay. If that's your answer, okay. And he's never seen me play, but I think that it's cool that he's really into it and he enjoys the sport and I just try to do the best I can to really try to help him get the best that he can be.

  • And that brings me a tremendous amount of joy. I feel like I've really reconnected with that side of me ever since I've been reflecting during the pandemic. It's really sort of taught me to really rethink the things that are important to me and those things certainly are.

  • Justin James Lopez:
  • There's definitely a lot going on there, right? And I think that that's what makes your story so exciting to hear about is because there's so many different apexes to your story. And I wanted to talk about the origin point, right? When you think about, you mentioned being a basketball player, even being a professional basketball player and you're from Richmond, California, correct?

  • Maurice Woods:
  • Yep.

  • Justin James Lopez:
  • So I'm not really too familiar with Richmond. I grew up on the East Coast, right? In what we call a food desert, right? Or the hood or the ghetto, however people want to describe it. And in these spaces, you really do get driven by very specific things. I know from watching some of your history and your videos that you do talk about a lot of these very common themes of really seeing music as an outlet, really seeing sports as another outlet because growing up, I really saw the same things, but 3,000 miles away. So you really see these pockets of society where there's this absence of, right? And you ended up getting to design, but you started in sports and you started down on that road because that's really kind of, something you mentioned in one of your previous interviews was this idea of exposure is key, right? You mentioned that and I thought that that was really dope because the reality of that is I wasn't exposed to design as a career path or any of that.

  • So how did you get for growing up in Richmond, California, being a sports player, you got a scholarship for sports and then you move on beyond that point to then saying, you know what? I think I want to do design and finding the passion that you have for it now.

  • Maurice Woods:
  • Yeah. It's interesting because I never thought I'd be doing exactly what I'm doing now. I think each person has purpose and you have to find that purpose for yourself. And then sometimes that pathway to that purpose is not always clear. You have to have lived experiences to really understand what your purpose is. I didn't know what that was when I was in high school. I wanted to be an NBA player. I had my mind set up for what I was going to do. I mean, you couldn't blame me. I was 6'10, I was hooping, doing all the basketball circuit stuff, travel ball, doing all that, successful. Averaging a lot of points, averaging a lot of rebounds and I went to a D1 Pac 10 school and that was it for me. I was like, hey, if I can do that, I'm going to go to this school and try to get to the league. That was my mentality. It wasn't nothing about no design, nothing.

  • Even though I used to like to draw and I used to do all a lot of that stuff when I was a kid, it was just not even a thought. It was, I'm hooping. That's what I'm going to do. And it came down to really a decision and it was, I think in a lot of ways, the decision became easy to me because I was kind of forced in a position where when I went to the University of Washington to start hooping, I wasn't playing and you got to imagine the ego shattering that that happens, right? You the man in high school and then you go to college and then you ain't. The first year you redshirting and then you ain't playing and then you got to be like, dang, man. I had all these dreams and all these thoughts of doing this and that. Don't look like that thing going to happen. And I couldn't go back to the hood with nothing.

  • I was like, look, hey, there's a lot of people that wish they got the opportunity I got and I wasn't fitting to be like, you know what? I'm just going to can it in and just go back home just because I ain't playing or this ain't going right. And I knew I had that opportunity and I was like, you know what? I'm going to find something. So after a couple of years, I was like, I ain't going to make it right now. At least the trajectory I'm doing now, I ain't playing. I could see in the future that I may get playing time, but I wasn't going to be the guy. So I'm like, all right, so what can I do? And that's when I started looking around and moms and me, we was just looking through a catalog and that's how old I am. We were looking through a catalog. It was nothing digital. So it was crazy trying to look through like a telephone book, man.

  • Justin James Lopez:
  • Because these young kids now, they got it easy.

  • Maurice Woods:
  • Oh man, they got it easy. [crosstalk] just. Just do search and type in some stuff. And now, man, I mean, back then, it was crazy, man, trying to look through all that and trying to read through things and trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And I actually started in architecture, man. I went there and I was like I'm going to do this. And I took one class and they start hitting me with that math stuff and I was like, oh man, I'm done, man. I'm out of this. Math ain't for me. It's never been for me. And I was like, all right, I can't do this. This is not me. And then that's when I was just like, oh man, I don't know what I'm going to do. This is about to be crazy. And then mom and myself, we sat down, we went over that catalog and then she found graphic design and she was like, "All right, what about this?"

  • And then I looked at it, I was like reading and I was just like, oh, okay, let me see what that's about. And I took a class and back then, I didn't know what it was, man. I'm like, man, I'm just walking in this class. I used to like to draw. And they do some broad stuff in there and I just walked into that joint not even knowing that I was going up against two, 300 other students. I didn't even know any of that stuff. I was just taking a class. One thing led to another. I had to get through two classes. I got through the first one, got through the second one and then got into the program, and then the rest was history, man. That's really all how it happened. It wasn't planned.

  • Justin James Lopez:
  • So that's the origin point, right? You realized, hey, this plan that I had for so long may not have been the plan that's really meant for me, right? Because I mean, realistically you ended up going and playing professionally. So you could have done that, right? But you found something and I want to kind of dive into that right there because you mentioned you liked to draw when you were younger and that's kind of what sparked that connection even when you got to college, to kind of get through those two classes, get into the program and then its history ever since that. But when you were younger, and I guess this kind of bleeds into some of the work that you do in Inneract as well, but when you were younger and you were drawing, were there any other outlets aside from you just liking drawing for you to actually... Because I know I didn't have any design programs. I didn't have any arts programs. Those things were cut, right?

  • And again, this exposure is key theme that you have with some of the work that you do and the interviews that you've had. You work with exposing underserved communities to this kind of world. And one question that I had, and it might be a little controversial, but it's like, are these communities underserved or systematically excluded?

  • Maurice Woods:
  • I'll start a little bit with a little bit of this. First and foremost, when I was a youngin, for me, it was even though I wasn't thinking about what design is, I was caught up in a creative, artistic time in our generation, which was hip-hop. I tell people all the time that I feel like graphic design is our people's hip-hop because it is creative and a business opportunity at the same time once you master your craft. The same way that music and hip-hop was to us when we were being creative and then we figured out how to monetize that creativity in a certain way. And I was I break-dancing, I was DJing, I was drawing, I was doing graffiti. I was into that creative space that my people was in, feel me? That's what I was in. I was in that mode and I think that I always had that connection to the culture that way. And so art became an extension of my creative outlet. Basketball was part of it too, so don't get me wrong.

  • Basketball is a creative outlet, it's not just about a sport and playing and strategy and body movement. It's a form of creativity.

  • Justin James Lopez:
  • It's physical expression too, right?

  • Maurice Woods:
  • Yeah. Yeah. And I think all of these things really sort of led me to be laser focused around what I wanted to do when I got older. And obviously basketball was part of that, but then because I have that other creative interest, things that I knew that I wanted to do, it became easier. So I'll say that. In terms of the underserved part, I don't use underserved when I talk about people of color, and it's my preference. I used to use it. I don't use it anymore. I use the word underrepresented or marginalized. And over the course years that I've been doing this work, those words have changed so much. And I'm sure you know this, even the definition of what diversity is has changed so much. Soon as black people, we get a name associated to us like diversity or something like that, it just starts to evolve and change and becomes something else. And I don't like using the underserved for me personally.

  • I'm not saying that other people should stop using it or anything like that. But for me, it was like, I didn't want to use any what I felt were negative terms about people of color and myself. And I felt like the underserved, it just sounds like we just don't have anything or there's a lack of. It's like it's coming from a place of, we are lacking and we don't have. And that may be true in some extent, but I don't like to categorize our people into that level of pushback against who we are as a people and defining who we are as a people. So I tend to use more neutral words like underrepresented, which basically just means that there's just not enough of us in this. There's not enough of us in that or more marginalized to sort of capture the meaning behind people that have been oppressed. So it's less about who we are and more about what's actually happening out there in terms of people of color, particularly black and Latinx.

  • So that's how I frame when I try to talk with my team on various different podcasts and talks and stuff. I really try to use those words that sort of don't denigrate. They up level and support and talk about what it is that's actually happening out there as it applies to careers in design.

  • Justin James Lopez:
  • Yeah. Let's talk about that, the work that you're doing for these places and I like that, right? I like the logic there as well of you move away from these negative connotations that are associated to these words and then really just tell the story of what it is. I'm just describing of what it is and sometimes that reality may suck, right? To be honest. But your work outside of your professional sphere, well, I guess it's still professional, but it's more of like your personal project that you've built, right? For the past what? 17 years now is the Inneract Project. In your own words, what was the origin point for that? Why was this needed and why did you create that?

  • Maurice Woods:
  • It's crazy. Like so much of my life, I mean, I never thought I would be running Inneract Project like this. I took a step. I was in graduate school, I was done playing basketball. I came back to the United States I came back to graduate school. I was taking classes and one class in particular, Annabelle Gould, who's one of my professors at University of Washington, Seattle, challenged our graduate class to work on a project or come up with an idea that uses design to change the world. And now that I think about it now, the first thing that came into my mind was my people. How can I use the things that I've learned over the years through design, through playing basketball in Europe, growing up in the hood, all of these things and my love for design to change people's lives, particularly black and Latinx. I was really sort of conflicted about that because I wanted to do something and I really didn't know how to do it.

  • So I took that moment to actually try to come up with that proposal. And quite honestly, I took the project very literal. I wasn't trying to really start something then. I was trying to come up with a proposal and I was like, you know what? I'm just going to write this up for this class. And then I was like, all right, as part of this work, I'm going to write this thing up and then I'm going to teach these kids and just see what it do. And June 2004, man, I mean, I was working with two or three kids at a community center and by the end of that summer, I was working with 30. And then I was just like, oh man, this is crazy, man. There's something here. So I just kept it on. And I was like, I don't know how I'm going to do this, but I'm just going to keep it going. And that's what I did. And I just never gave up. And what led to that was, and we still kind of deal with this today to be honest, man.

  • I mean, it's like, we talk a lot about there's not enough black designers in this business. Well, we were talking about that 20 years ago and 40 years ago, we were talking about that. And when I started Inneract Project, it was during the time when I was doing a lot of investigation around my work around black aesthetics and the importance of visual aesthetics and black people's contributions to visual aesthetics or just our contributions in general to American culture. And so obviously, I had the graphic design [inaudible] on that because I'm a graphic designer, but I wanted to know it because when I was in design school, all the design heroes were white or Asian or other. And I was like, where are the black people. And of course I'm like the only black person in the class like so many black people are, and I'm like looking around. I'm like, where's my people at? I'm looking in all these books, these history books about designers and I'm like, I don't see our people anywhere.

  • And I knew that they were out there, but I didn't see. So I was like, all right, how can we change this? This can't be happening 20, 40 years from now. We shouldn't be talking about this. And I wanted to do something to change that. So that's why I started Inneract Project. That's why I stuck with it. I was inspired by all of these support that I got from the University of Washington down to the community or organizations I work with. My folks at TAF, my boy at TAF and Trish, they were the first nonprofit organization that I partnered with and they totally supported me and they helped me get Inneract Project going. I also had support from my good friend, Tony Gable, may his soul rest in peace. He was my dude, man. And he was the first black graphic designer I met in Seattle. And he was the reason why I was like, you know what? I'm going to keep going on this because he helped me.

  • He helped me get out and I was like, you know what? I'm going to do some of this stuff for other people too. And then that's kind of how Inneract Project evolved. It came out of all of that energy that was happening around just not seeing my people represented in these history books. Also, all of my investigations around black aesthetics and the importance of the black thought and black ideas and creative culture of black people manifested through all of these images and the fact that we weren't present in any of those conversations that we're communicating about our people. And so that spawned me to be like, you know what? I got to do something about it. I got Inneract Project. Started off three, I got 30. I was inspired by that so I said I'm going to keep going. I was getting a lot of community support. I had kids in my class I was working with every year and then it just grew and grew and grew, and we're still here today.

  • Justin James Lopez:
  • It's wonderful to hear because I think, as I mentioned before, and I know so many kids and probably the kids in the program that are benefiting from the Inneract Project, they experienced this where we don't have, all of our arts programs were cut, right? Growing up. All of these programs were cut and we didn't have access, we have resources, we didn't have that exposure. And you're giving that exposure back to basically almost add that to the big theme now. And it's been for a while, but specifically now, they're embedding the stem fields into core curriculum, but it's almost like what you're working on is adding the deed to that as well, right? Of like, well, this should be a part of the co-curriculum that let these next generations know that as they grow, that this is not only a viable, but a necessary career field for us to continue to grow and build our creative expression. Because from your perspective, where does design lay in that spectrum when it comes... So you look at the stem, the emphasis they put on that. But where does design lay on that ranking system?

  • Maurice Woods:
  • The way that I look at it is speaking of [inaudible], he and I have been doing some work actually lately around this of really defining this space around design education, specifically for kids and people of color, black, Latinx. And right now there is this term that was coined by thinking. We're coining our own phrase, design readiness. That is a culmination of three things; awareness, that is skills, and that is mentoring. So those three key areas are what we're working now even more so than ever to really sort of put together proper assessment tools to help us really understand that more. But the moral of the story is, is that our work over the last 17 years has touch across really those three major areas and we've seen results from those. It's funny, man, because it's like I should've just posted this on Twitter, but I have one student that many years ago when I started Inneract Project, I think it was maybe 2008, he was a middle schooler then.

  • He took my Inneract Project course, and he took some as a middle school kid and then he kind left and went to high school and kind of moved on. And he went and came back one time for a lecture that we had. Had my man, Dwayne Edwards, participate in a discussion or a lecture and he came to that because Dwayne Edwards designed the Jordan 21, 22 shoe. So we had interest in that and he came to that. The interesting story is I hadn't talked to him in years. I kind of lost contacting with because back then, I mean, I didn't have the means to be able to track all the students, man. It was just me and a bunch of volunteers. So we just didn't have the resources. We were doing what we can to teach kids, but in terms of actually measuring and following up with students and keeping up with them year to year was just too much. We were working with a lot of students and it was just too much.

  • But what happened was really interesting because I ran into him about a month ago, maybe a month and a half. And I was at the local YMCA working out with my son early in the morning. I was just finished working out with him and then this kid or this adult came up to me and was like, "Man." He was like, "Are you that guy who ran that design program?" I said, "The Inneract Project?" He said, "Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You don't remember me? I was in your class when I was in middle school." And I was kind of thinking, I was like, gosh, he looks familiar. He was like, "Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, man. I took your classes and I remember also taking those classes and that lecture with Dwayne Edwards. I remember that." He said, "That totally changed my life, man." He's like, "Now I'm a motion designer because of that."

  • Justin James Lopez:
  • Oh, that's massive.

  • Maurice Woods:
  • And the point is skills, awareness, mentoring. So you never know what area is going impact somebody for the rest of their life. It can be teaching them something, it can be them just going to a lecture and hearing something. It can be somebody listening on this podcast who's just like, man, I need to think about that, man. Yeah. Maybe I need to kind of do this. It could be me working with the many different young black men and women that I open myself up to on LinkedIn to just connect with me and I'll just help you out. I'll do what I can. All of those things add up. And we have kids that are doing various different things, but they're all connected from these various different touchpoint. And to kind of bring it back to the stem part, I think that we have a lot of ways of sort of determining the work that we do at Inneract Project.

  • There's lots of programs and events and things that we do, but we look at it as regardless of where you come in, whether middle school, high school, college, or early career, that you should be able to come into Inneract Project and find the right skills or the right opportunities that you need in any given time. That's what we've been building over the years and it's taken a long time and that design readiness formula is what we use to understand how we're impacting our students and how do we get them to a point where they have an enough of skills, awareness and mentorships to be able to be successful or be ready to take on a job or get to college or whatever that is that they want to do in their career. So that's kind of like the summation of what our formula and how we equate the work that we're doing. And it's tricky because a lot of the work that I see in stem is it's engineering led, but then there is also this aspect of formalizing how people learn tech skills.

  • And I think design is a form of tech skills, but it goes beyond that. And I think because we become so accustomed to designing our world that we don't always realize its impact in our lives. And what I mean by that is, is that, and I say this all the time and I really mean this, man. It's like, if you just look around you, you see design all around you. And I'm not talking about just the machines and the technical parts of it. If you look at our lives, our bodies, our systems, they're all purposeful and they all come from a place of purpose. And you think about the way we live and the birds and in spiders, they create these things and build these webs, or they build nests, or you'll see the sun helps the plants to grow. The plants give life to the bees and the bees carry it on. There's all this level of purpose around us and design, I feel, is just a natural extension of our lives.

  • And so when I talk to communities of color about it, I'm always telling them like, yeah, there's certain aspects of design that is specific to you having certain skills around either illustrations or design and typography and all of that stuff. But the gist of it is that we are coming up with a method, design is a method for allowing individuals to be able to provide some level of purpose or understanding so that other people or other things, other species can then fit into some sort of either system or way of helping to sort of help them do something better or help them to live their lives productively. And it's kind of a reflective thing that I've had over the years because I've worked with a lot of kids, I've worked with a lot of people. I've been designing for a very long time and I've designed for hundreds of millions of people.

  • And there are certain things that are very common when it comes to design that you see, not only just in the things that we design, but just generally in life, and they all fit into the same categories in terms of how they're very purpose driven. And it's just very interesting if you step back and you look at some of these things that are around us every day.

  • Justin James Lopez:
  • Yeah. It sounds like with the work that you do, you're not just helping these young people find their spacing in design, but also just how to be a better human in a real way. Before we close up here, what I wanted to do, and we'll link the Inneract Project here below as well so that all the listeners can know exactly where to go to learn more about that, but what message do you want to leave for the next generation of young designers in their journey, wherever they are in their journey? What would be one lesson that you would want to leave them with?

  • Maurice Woods:
  • I think the one lesson I would want to lead them with is that we have to think about the power that we have as black, Latinx folks in this country and how we can use our talent, specifically for designer, our talent to help uplift and bring real clarity to who we are as people. Who we are and how we've been defined in this country has been so misrepresented. And if you think about the various different roots of all of this oppression, they stem across a lot of things that bind us from being able to not own only do, but even think that we can do things. And it's all design, dude. It's all design. You think about police brutality. You where that stuff comes from. It's the visual messages that are portrayed about our people has been designed to a way where people think that black men and black women are unsafe when we're not. But those visual messages carry and they carry globally. They're not a national, United States thing, they're global.

  • I've been all over the world and I'm telling you, it may not be in everybody's heart, but there is a stigma around the black man and black woman, around being dangerous, or maybe not being as smart as others. And it just carries across and it's been a narrative that has misrepresented people of color for a very long time. Black people have been under the guise of that. And I think that it stems into the reason why you see police who don't live in our communities, by the way, have these perceptions of being scared of, oh, I have this perceived notion about this person that I've never met in this community that I don't live in. Why is that? You don't have conversations with these people at all. You don't live in their communities. You don't know what they're up against, but you've seen these things. Those things that they're seeing are not being designed by black people. You see what I'm saying?

  • They're being designed by other people that are misrepresenting our culture and young people have to challenge that and take that on. That's a fight worth fighting for, and the best way to do that is getting these positions and being at these table and be representatives for your people. It's hard, but it's not just about trying to work at a big company. People tend to want to do that, and I've done it. I've certainly been a part of that. I've wanted to work with big companies. I've done it, and that's fine, but it's not about trying to get to a big company, sometimes it's about creating a big company. And I think we have been trained, not just black people, but just people in general that we go to college and then after college, we get a job and then we go work for the man. So we start off in the oppression area and then we go and we get our stuff and then we go back into the oppression. And then we're like, man, we're oppressed. They're like, well, that's because the system has been designed that way.

  • Justin James Lopez:
  • Stuck in a loop, right?

  • Maurice Woods:
  • And here's the thing. I'm not saying that we shouldn't work at these companies. I mean, look at me. I work at Microsoft, I worked at Yahoo. I worked at all these places and that's fine but we should have some contextual understanding of our place in society and how we can uplift our communities. And it's not going to come from anybody else, but us.

  • Justin James Lopez:
  • Yeah. That's beautiful.

  • Maurice Woods:
  • So at some point, we have to say, yeah, I can work with this company, but I also can do this to help this young brother and this young sister out. I can participate in this event because I really want kids at this school to learn about design and have that opportunity to learn about how they can create opportunities for themselves. Because if you think about design, we're designing things that millions of people are using all the time. You think about all these big companies, it driven by visual. And when I say visual, it's not that I'm seeing an illustration or just a photo, it's also how you design things. I'm working a lot on inclusion design. And when you are designing a mobile app or a system for someone, are you taking in consideration the lived experiences of those people that you're designing for? And how do you do that if you've never lived in those communities and you don't come from those communities, but you're designing, quote, unquote, for everyone, how do you do that?

  • You got to be talking to people, you got to have people that have had those lived experiences a part of that conference. And I'm excited about it because I see young people stepping up. Young people is like, you know what? We ain't going for this no more. We are going to go in here and that's very promising to me. I'm very proud of a lot of young designers that I'm seeing in very different areas that are starting conferences and having discussions and talking about various different things and young black men, women that they're getting their money on. They're going to these companies, they're doing their thing and they're representing us good. And that's promising to me because that tells me that black people, we're thinking about how do we also become engaged and be a part of this whole process of designing and representing not only our people, but other people by just having a voice. Having that voice and that seat at the table is just critical for us at this point.

  • Justin James Lopez:
  • Love it. Well, again, this was an amazing conversation. Mo, thank you for joining me and thank you for all of the gems that you dropped today. I know it's going to help a lot of people and we will have all of the information linked below for anyone that wants to follow up on the Inneract Project or any of the work that Mo is doing. Mo, thanks again.

  • Maurice Woods:
  • Thank you, man. Thank you for having me.