By this side, she meant one of influence and decision making.
From that moment, I knew that this was where I needed to be in some shape or form, if I really wanted to see myself and other women represented authentically.
In an article written by Ad Age in 2016, studies found that out of the 46.4% of women that actually work in advertising, only 11% are creative directors. Out of that number, you can only imagine how many are women of color. The math will leave you dumbfounded, but the realities will have you wondering where all our artistic souls are and why they aren’t the ones behind the lens. I have a few theories as to why, but I’ll save that for another day.
For now, let’s not spill the tea and just start with the basics:
You won’t see images of yourself if you’re not in the room.
I don’t have enough fingers or toes to count the times where I’ve been the only black women in a meeting full of executives, but I can tell you that I spend majority of my time speaking about the importance of diversity and inclusion in all things beauty and empowerment.
I’ve been the girl saying this shade is too dark, this lipstick is too light, that term is insensitive and you’re gonna get your ass handed to you on social media.
That’s been my role, but it’s not in my job description- it’s something that the few of us who are fortunate enough to have a voice have to do because we understand how important it is that we are there, even if we are the only ones.
Even when we don’t want to be. Sometimes, I get frustrated with how clueless other races are when it comes to all things black girl magic, but then it occurs to me that they’ve never had to know, and whether I want to or not, sometimes, I will be responsible for educating if it means making a difference.
When I saw the Shea Moisture commercial that had all of #blacktwitter, facebook, and the internets in an uproar, I knew that somewhere along the line there was a disconnect, and someone (smart) was not in the room.I wasn’t surprised because I’ve sat in a millionth of meetings where someone who has no connection to a certain demographic thinks something is cool, only to later find out that their bright idea may not be all that hip, in touch, or culturally revolutionary after all.
And it’s usually not for the reasons that a lot of people think. Every dumb campaign isn’t a big conspiracy to oppress a group of people; most times, it’s just that the people who matter the most are not there to speak for themselves, and they should be.
(Granted,Shea Moisture used to be a black owned company, so I don’t know what their excuse is, but work with me.)
With digital media becoming a key point of acquisition for big brands and retailers, so many women of color are looking for opportunities as influencers and bloggers, and that’s great- it’s important.
But sometimes, it’s not enough to be an influencer if the messaging has already been created.
Sometimes, you need to be there from inception so that your impact is forward-thinking and not an after thought.
Of course, we need to start our own businesses, support those that support us, and fight the good fight, but we also need to integrate into spaces that impact and shape the way we are seen, as well as how we see ourselves because like it or not, these messages reach millions of women around the world.
I don’t have all the answers and know that it isn’t as easy as it sounds, but the sooner we start working behind the scenes, the sooner we will see more truth, rich content, and inclusive depictions of us all in the future.
What do you think?