Just when we thought we had turned the corner and made drastic progress against racism, bigotry, and xenophobia, in comes Donald Trump, Blue Lives Matter, ISIS, the mass shooting at the gay club Pulse in Orlando, and all that noise on the Internet. Today, these subjects are very present in our national consciousness and violently argued about in social media, from people with accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Reddit that we’re not even sure are real (it could just be one angry racist with one hundred accounts, or a thirteen year old who gets a kick out of seeing adults get angry), but we’re sure they do upset others. In the academic world, and the architecture world, these topics can feel somewhat childish, like it’s beneath us to even debate something as ridiculous as racism. But there still is so much bigotry in this world.
And then there’s this—a video called “What Made Me” of architect Charles Renfro, partner at the superfirm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which shows that there’s still so much beauty too. In the interview Renfro describes his experience growing up gay in a small town outside of Houston, Texas. He had been bullied and bullied and bullied, until one day he couldn’t take it anymore, and he said to his mom, “I didn’t want to go to school anymore.” His mom, clearly a wonderful and supportive woman, says, “Well ok. So what do you want to do?”
Eight-year-old Charles Renfro, just a little boy in nowhere Texas, who has no idea that in about thirty years he’s going to design some of the world’s most important structures, goes to his spirit, his instinct, and his future for the answer, and says, “I want to go to look at buildings.”
Show this video to anyone who is facing adversity, has faced adversity. Show them the advice that Renfro says to his eight-year-old self, “You’re really scared, but don’t worry.”
By: David Plick