Black History Month is a time to reflect on important people and moments in history.
It’s about celebrating the achievements of Black people and recognising the culture and contributions Black people have made in history, and WILL continue to make.
People are talking about Black History Month more and more in the UK, but there’s still a sense of fear and awkwardness from a brand perspective.
Brand’s are scared to offend Black people.
They don’t want to make it seem like they’re just jumping on the bandwagon or tokenizing Black history or people. I understand these fears completely—we know cancel culture is very real right now and any misstep from a brand can mean it’s OVER. You don’t want to anger, upset or annoy Black people, I get it!
However, there’s a risk with anything you do and, not to sound cliché, you haven’t lived until you’ve taken a few risks.
If you’re doing a Black History Month campaign, here’s a few words of advice from a Black creative to the brand’s of the world!
- Don’t just do a few social posts about BHM and call it a day. It’s all talk, no action. Make a real contribution to the plight of Black people. Donate to a charity or cause you believe in as well as posting on socials. Your insta likes won’t benefit me hunny.
- Internally, look at how you can diversify your business. If you recognise that you’re slacking on the diversity front, then do something about it. We know this won’t happen overnight, but take steps to improve it. Acknowledge the fact that you’re lacking diversity but you’re working towards doing better—I can’t demonise you for trying.
- It’s all about the intention! We’re in comms, of course we want coverage, but you can also want coverage and have genuine interest in helping people. Coverage equates to greater awareness for the campaign which in turn benefits the Black community. For instance, if you want to do a campaign to get more Black people into tech, then you’ll want every newspaper to talk about it because you want to recruit more people into tech - DOI!
- FACT CHECK. Don’t just assume that the Black man in the picture is Morgan Freeman—check, check and check again.
- Talk to Black people. Not speaking for all Black people, but personally I think it’s fine to ask me as a Black person what I think about your BHM ideas. A lot of brands could have prevented scandals (you know who you are) had they consulted a Black colleague.
- It’s okay to just focus a campaign on Black people. It doesn’t mean that every other races’ struggles and achievements are not valid or that they’re less important. This is the one month a year dedicated to Black people, so let’s celebrate. (Although Black history should be celebrated every month but we move on).
In summary, it’s OK to celebrate Black History Month, just make sure your intentions are good, it’s not just for show and is an actual commitment to benefiting Black people in some way, shape or form.
*side note, I'm not speaking on behalf of the entire Black community, it’s my opinion and I said what I said :)