Cultivating Inclusive Spaces for Black and Brown Creatives in Social Media (and so many other spaces)


Hello everyone, Jesse here, reflecting on the recent Social Media Breakfast – Minneapolis/St. Paul (SMBMSP). This gathering of minds was enlightening and served as a catalyst for an essential conversation about inclusivity in professional spaces. It made me ponder deeply about the presence and representation of black and brown individuals in these settings.

Important Disclaimer: These are my opinions and observations. Not complaints. These are thoughts that came to mind that I’m open and willing to talk to anyone about. I don’t have any problem with anyone. With that being said, you may not like what I say. That’s why it’s an opinion piece. You have the right to your own opinion.

The Importance of Representation:

During the event, the realization hit me – there were only a handful of black and brown people in attendance. This observation is not just about numbers; it’s about the narratives, opportunities, and mentorship that come with visibility in such influential gatherings. It raises an important question: Are we truly nurturing a diverse professional community? Studies have shown that representation matters and can impact an individual’s sense of belonging, self-esteem, and aspirations. Lack of diverse representation in professional spaces can perpetuate a cycle of exclusion for black and brown creatives.

Challenges Faced by Black and Brown Creatives:

The underrepresentation of black and brown individuals in social media spaces is not a new issue. Many face challenges such as microaggressions, bias, and lack of access to resources and opportunities. These obstacles can hinder their growth and success in the industry. Additionally, there is often a lack of understanding or appreciation for cultural nuances and perspectives from these communities.

The Question of Inclusivity:

Can events like SMBMSP consistently offer inclusive experiences? It’s paramount that we ask ourselves whether these spaces are just ticking boxes or actively engaging with and valuing the diversity of our community. Inclusivity isn’t just about having a seat at the table; it’s about having a voice that’s heard and respected.  It’s about creating a sense of belonging and fostering genuine connections. 

The Power of Visibility:

Visibility is a powerful tool for empowerment, and social media has the potential to amplify marginalized voices. It’s important that we use our platforms to uplift and support black and brown creatives in our networks. Let’s actively seek out and share their work, engage with their content, and amplify their voices. Together, we can create a more inclusive environment for all. 

The Importance & Role of Allies:

As individuals, it’s our responsibility to actively seek out and amplify diverse voices and stories. We need allies who understand the importance of representation and actively work towards creating inclusive spaces. This doesn’t just apply to professional settings, but also in our personal lives and on social media platforms. Inclusion is not just the responsibility of marginalized individuals; it’s a collective effort. Allies play a crucial role in creating safe and inclusive spaces. They can use their privilege to advocate for marginalized voices, educate themselves on issues faced by these communities, and actively work towards promoting diversity and representation.

Spaces of Our Own:

This leads me to wonder, do black and brown creatives prefer inclusivity in these events, or do they yearn for their own exclusive spaces? Spaces where we can share common experiences, challenges, and successes without feeling overshadowed or outnumbered. While inclusivity is vital, the need for spaces of their own cannot be ignored. These designated safe spaces can help foster a sense of belonging and support for black and brown individuals.

Industry Reflections:

I must consider if the lack of representation is a factor in why many black and brown small business owners seem to face an uphill battle in the social media industry. Is there an unconscious bias at play? Or are there systemic barriers that we have yet to dismantle? It’s vital for us to self-reflect and actively address these issues to create a truly inclusive industry.

The Power of Gathering:

I’m inspired. I have been contemplating organizing a similar type of event tailored for black and brown social media creatives. My mind buzzes with questions: Would they show up? Would the shared experiences create a stronger, more supportive network? Would it help propel our community forward? Will there be job opportunities through connections? I believe it would open doors and create opportunities for individuals who often feel unseen or unheard.

Sponsorship and Support:

The support of businesses through sponsorships would be instrumental. It’s vital to engage with companies that are not just passively supportive but actively championing diversity and inclusion within their culture and values. It’s time for brands to put their money where their mouth is and actually invest in creating safe and inclusive spaces for black and brown creatives. Where ya’ll at?

Corporate Culture and Inclusivity:

It’s also critical to assess the workplace cultures of our current and potential sponsors. As black and brown individuals, we seek spaces where we feel genuinely invited and included—where our presence is a celebration, not just a statistic. It’s crucial to build relationships with companies that align with our values and are committed to fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. Who are those companies and who are the people inside those companies working to connect with black and brown communities?

Wrapping Things Up:

Creating inclusive networking events for black and brown creatives is not just a possibility; it’s a necessity. It’s a step towards equalizing the playing field, sharing unique perspectives, and truly celebrating the diversity that we bring to any industry. Maybe this turns into an amazing partnership? Maybe this is the fuel that I need to create a space in my own building to host these types of gatherings? Maybe they give me the blueprint so I can create something “for us by us”. Maybe there are more questions? All I do know, is that being able to reflect on my experiences has helped me renew my passion around creating space for people and elevating the conversation around opportunity and engagement here in the twin cities. There’s a lot of money out in the world that talented people deserve to receive. My goal is to find the money, find the people, and connect the dots.

Call to Action:

I invite you to join me in this conversation. Again, this is in no shape or form a complaint. I’m inviting people to share your thoughts, experiences, and let’s collaborate to make these inclusive events a reality. No, like seriously. Let’s build not just a network, but a community that thrives on the diversity of its members. Let’s cultivate spaces where black and brown creatives can truly flourish in the world of social media. If you’re down for that, send me a message.  #InclusiveSpaces #BlackandBrownCreatives #smbmsp

Last Last Thoughts:

Regardless of the answers, one thing is certain – we need to continue having these conversations and actively work towards creating inclusive spaces for black and brown creatives in social media. It’s not just about diversity for diversity’s sake; it’s about creating a more equitable and thriving industry for all. Let’s keep pushing for spaces and opportunities to elevate the voices of people who have been silenced. Let’s pay or sponsor opportunities for those who need it. I’m just one of many people who are doing some things you should know about. I’m committed to using my platform to start elevating those conversations. 

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