Black Lives Matter, and so do Our Words and Actions

One of the things we love most about experiential marketing is that it celebrates connection. It relies on community for its success. Bringing people together, often uplifting their experience and celebrating shared passions and joy.

The suffering of segments of our human community is not only sad, it is maddening. It makes no sense.  Yet, for more than 400 years, black folks have been not just marginalized, subjugated, blocked from resources necessary to participate in “the American Dream,” maligned, attacked and otherwise persecuted, they are also being murdered. And often by the very institution that is supposed to “Protect and Serve.”

Trevor Noah recently spoke about Society being a contract of behavior and values that a group of people agree to. However, when one party does not abide by the terms of that agreement, how does one expect the other party to abide by it?

Societal changes are frequently the result of individuals stepping out of their comfort zone and doing something (think of the abolitionists). Rarely do major shifts come from the top down. There is no Superhero to swing in and save the day. It is up to us. Us as individuals. Us as communities made up of individuals. Us as companies made up of individuals. We make the changes. 

This is a problem with deep roots. There have been small steps in the right direction, and gratefully so. Yet, there is still a long way to go. Speaking up is important. Words matter. Marketers have used words to influence behavior for centuries. In distressful, dangerous times, words should be measured. They need to be thoughtful, not just quick. They do not need to be perfect, but they need to be honest and they need to be backed up by actions.

Companies that post videos, or letters of support are not taken seriously if the company does not walk the talk. In those instances, their expressions can become a distraction from the very message that should be informing and inspiring people.

Like most of the world, we are stunned, momentarily paralyzed by the enormity of the situation and the seemingly helplessness that accompanies attempting to solve it. But no one person or entity must solve it, rather it will be the result of combined efforts. Combined commitment. Combined accountability. All a combination of individuals. You, me, our friends, our families, our coworkers. Not the elected officials alone, if at all.

It is said that we are defined by our actions and behaviors. So, while we use our words to convey our feelings and to call out injustices, we also are putting our energy and resources into play as well.

We encourage you to do the same. Here is a list of resources to educate non-black people compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein. This @BLM twitter feed shows where you can donate. You should also hire people of color, pay them fairly, and give them a voice. Promote them to positions of leadership and responsibility. There are other ways to act, just look around and listen. Listen with an open heart and an intention to be part of the solution.

The “New Normal?” Let us hope it is one where a person of color feels included, appreciated, needed, and loved, not merely tolerated at best, and certainly not murdered because of the color of their skin.

Speak up, show up, lift up, pay up before we, as a society, go belly up.