What The “The Dress” Actually Taught Us About Our Global System

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In 2011 I awoke early out of sleep and wrote an article calling for an attempt at a system redesign. I was visiting home from studying abroad in London. After I finished writing the piece I sat on my mother’s balcony and took in the quiet early morning hours listening to Tupac’s Changes on repeat. I really thought I’d “did it.”

The premise of the redesign was simple. All of the top professionals in their fields would meet at a conference to discuss the future of their areas all with the same progressive end goal in mind. The idea was to get ideas flowing among experts in all industries and sectors in the hopes of one day those conversations leading to an entire system redesign.

Our system is broken. That is no surprise, nor should it be near heresy to say. I’d argue that it is near lunacy to act as though the way things work are serving us when in fact it is us that is serving them.

About three weeks ago a dress surfaced online that shattered the Internet. The dress, in my opinion clearly black and blue, had people divided over whether the photo of the dress demonstrated a black and blue creation or was in fact white and gold. Specialists were consulted, Ellen had the originators of the photo on her show, and Twitter timelines everywhere nearly blew up.

The dress got me thinking, if we can’t agree on something as basic as the color of a garment, how do I expect a room full of diverse professionals to agree on the future of the global system?

The truth? I don’t expect them to agree, but I expect for them to partake in the discussion and lay the groundwork for real change to occur.

The predicament of the dress demonstrates that there are varying perspectives in even the most simplest of scenarios, cautioning us to consider those perspectives in the more complicated of situations. Asking for a system redesign? That’s bound to elicit an entire multitude of opinions, but that’s the point then isn’t it? The whole point behind the initiative of the redesign is to get experts into one room exchanging ideas in the hopes of creating a better system.

The system as we know it is racist and patriarchal. The effects of that are evidenced in the daily reports of black men being murdered by police officers and women being victims of male violence. As ambitious as a redesign sounds, it aims at the root of the problem, not the symptoms but the cause.

So many are discouraged about improving the state of our world because they feel as though there are no answers to the problems that we currently face. But it’s 2015, the hovercrafts I wanted to have surfaced by now may not be upon us but the future most certainly is. We are not doomed to live the lives set out for us by old white men centuries ago, but are innovative enough to take matters into our own hands. I come from the generation that saw the Internet blow up, an invention that changed lives globally and was nowhere near creation when the pillars of the system were put into place.

If Adidas has taught us anything, it is that “impossible is nothing” (just look at the Yeezy Boost). Therefore there is nothing anyone can tell me to make me believe that if given enough energy and resources this sort of ambitious plan isn’t possible. I believe it. I believed it in 2011 and I believe in it now. The question is, can you believe it and if so, what are you willing to do to make this sort of system overhaul happen? TC mark

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