No shade, but why are Black people marketed to as a monolith?
Although yes, there are similarities between Black cultures—one of my favorites is food—the differences, the nuances seem apparent to Black people and opaque to those outside the community. Nowhere is it more obvious than when a brand’s attempt to co-opt Black culture ends in a circus. Here’s an example: Walmart’s Juneteenth-themed ice cream was created to celebrate the end of slavery. This is remarkably tone-deaf—it doesn’t take into consideration the individual realities of racial trauma that Black people experience. And frankly, it’s just bad marketing.
So, how might brands demonstrate their deep understanding of a culture ignored for generations…
Instead of parachuting in with what they think is the answer, brands need to pass the mic and embrace power-sharing. Because a history of being ignored and exploited has made Black people incredible trendsetters and innovators. When Rihanna identified a gap in the makeup industry, she created Fenty. When Aurora James saw a literal gap on shelves for Black businesses, she established the Fifteen Percent Pledge.
Give the stage to Black executives so they can establish the brave spaces they didn’t have early in their careers. Include Black people from the start, and don’t be afraid of discourse. Only when brands preserve Black culture’s authenticity in this way, will they be able to reach Black consumers. There’s so much diversity within the Black community, a ton of work remains before the world fully sees Blackness for what it is. But at the very least, this could be a start.
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