Earlier this summer, we shared our thoughts with regard to racial injustice and included resources for anyone interested in learning more and taking action. We were (and are) serious about being reflective and working to implement changes within our agency and beyond.
In the past few months, we focused on a few goals that felt achievable in the immediate, but we will continue taking the necessary steps. Striving for accountability on our racial justice journey will include learning, unlearning, reflection and critical thinking, all of which are required to move the work forward collectively and responsibly.
Most recently, Blast has…
- Sought out BIPOC groups from local universities with a focus on PR, Marketing, and Business to share information about our internships and proactively outreach to find qualified candidates. So far, we’ve reached out to the Carolina Association of Black Journalists (CABJ), Black Graduate and Professional Students Association (BGPSA) at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Black in Business at Duke University, among others. We’ve already had interested students reach out and are looking forward to the potential to work together in 2021.
- Shared resources to encourage employees to honor marginalized communities in whatever way they can, whether it’s reading books from Black authors or supporting small Black businesses and restaurants. We also provided vetted organizations that could benefit from donations. In line with this effort, our executive team has declared that Juneteenth is now recognized as an official Blast PR holiday.
- Found resources for racial equity training, such as The Partnership Project, Inc. and the Racial Equity Institute (REI). Blast paid for staff to participate in webinars hosted by REI and encouraged those who did to share what impacted them. Many Blasters also attended the Ad Age Town Hall on Racism to get a nuanced perspective of advertising and marketing’s role in systemic racism and whether progress has been made. We will continue to seek out workshops and webinars that can help us move forward productively. Here are a few key highlights from various sessions that our employees shared:
- “We must get closer to the issue of race and address the systems we’ve created that allow it to permeate. Racial inequity looks the same across systems, and the lack of diverse voices in any given room leads to the continuation of the marginalization of minorities of all kinds.” – Lorene Bagley-Kane, Senior PR Director
- “Inequality is manufactured from choices we’ve made — it’s not an accident. We need to focus on not just stopping bad things from happening as a result of those choices, but also on inspiring continuous growth and change to fix the systems in place.” – Katie Sanders, Senior Content Director
- “It’s important to remember that 87% of US history took place during the enslavement of African people and the genocide of Native people, followed by a hundred more years of Jim Crow. We must stop acting like these events occurred so long ago that they do not have a direct effect on disparities these groups face within today’s systems of education, health and finance.” – Jayasree Jaganatha, PR Coordinator
- “I understood going into the REI webinar that there are big discrepancies based on the history of our country baked into our systems. However, it was eye-opening to learn that, even if it was possible for White and Black people to start at the same point in any system today, it would still cost Black people much more to achieve identical goals.” – Lacy Talton, Senior PR Director
- “Most companies require a multicultural or diversity training session, but never really about race and racism specifically. That’s why I’m so thankful Blast set this training up for us. It opened my eyes to a lot of things I was previously uneducated about and showed me that racial inequity lives in virtually every system that exists. Moving forward, I plan to further educate myself and others on how to be better and always keep my privilege in check.” – Stacee Collins, PR Coordinator
We have more plans for the future, including employee donation matching for organizations that support and provide further opportunities within Black communities. We’ve begun discussions around making election day a paid holiday. Either way, we’ll always encourage employees to take the time they need to vote. By recognizing the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day, we’ll encourage our employees to use that day-off as an opportunity to support indigenous communities in their areas.
However, we realize that there is always more work to do. If you have other suggestions, we would love to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts here.
As it’s been said many times this year, “This is a movement, not a moment.” We are dedicated to ongoing participation in this movement by learning from this moment in time to create a more diverse path forward.