It is the middle of the week and, at large, the creative industries and associated businesses have done little to take action and address the social discussion that is impacting the world. We are not in isolation. Your inaction is an action too.
Black Lives Matter.
As industry and business leaders it is your duty to make clear your stance on this matter - and basic human rights matters such as this - absolutely clear to your employees, our teams, clients and customers.
Black Lives Matter tells black people that their lives, health, welfare, feelings of safety and security are of equal importance to you as those from all other groups, including their White counterparts. It tells your black colleagues and employees that they are equally valued for the skills and talents that they input to make your businesses successful.
Silence is complicity. Your silence at a time when your black employees cannot sleep is complicit in their pain. It is complicit in the continual negation of their existence, their experiences of racism and the unique value that they add to your businesses and society at large.
The silence of black colleagues at a time when they cannot sleep is because your silence tells them that it is a risk for them to speak up and share their belief that their lives matter. They fear having to suffer the consequences of speaking up about equality later down the line. Right now, Black people are afraid to make mistakes at work.
If you (leaders) and your businesses (no, they are not separate) will not make a statement specifically addressing Black Lives Matter, and put tangible actions behind supporting black-inclusion resources as well as the anti-black and anti-racism work that goes hand in hand with this discussion - please remove and pause all of your Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, roles, projects and pillars. They’re fake.
This is your Corporate Social Responsibility and your silence and/ or, “all lives matter” statements make it very clear to your employees, your network, the industry, the country and the creative community at large, that you do not have the ethics and morals that you bang your drum about.
When this concerned Trump’s anti-women comments, this led to tangible actions and a Women’s March. When this concerned the abuse of the earth and destruction of the climate, this led to tangible actions and a march. When this was about addressing human rights issues not on our doorsteps, then all of the currently inactive businesses and bodies spoke out loud and proud - putting their money where their mouth is. If you cannot feel as strongly or put as much energy into this as you have about those, please let it be clearly known.
You cannot be pro-diversity and ignore racism. You cannot be pro-inclusion and ignore black people and #BlackLivesMatter You cannot be pro-#BlackLivesMatter and be silent on the subject because of fear of losing your racist customers and clients. Racism is not a way that people are, it is a way that people choose to be. They can unlearn it.
Finally, to avoid this becoming a white-employer or fragility-entered discussion, rather than the anti- racist action-centred discussion that it is, let it be clear that this is not an attack on anybody. It is advice on how we can start to collectively dismantle racism that we were all born into and uphold with our current structures and ways of operating.
This is what accountability looks and sounds like. It is honest, factual, uncomfortable and not sugar-coated for your convenience. It is the action of putting your feelings of guilt or shame aside so that real things can be done. And because anti-racism is a verb, it is asking you if you really want to stand and rise to this challenge. Otherwise you are equally free to be honest that you’re not.
POCC (@wearepocc) is a members'collective and community of 500+ creative, like-minded people working in advertising, media, fashion, arts, film and photography.