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Is This a Good Time to Talk About Blacks in Advertising?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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It's Black History Month. If not now, then when?

We are in the second month of the new year, and we are steadily seeing change in the advertising industry. Mergers and acquisitions, indie shops closing, brands shifting and consolidating their agency rosters, and one extremely mellow Super Bowl ad stream.

But what about diversity? 

We know this conversation isn't a comfortable one. It's obvious, because out of all the "controversial" things out there — sex, women's images, ageism, etc.— our industry is much more apt to raise up arms about a full woman being retouched for a magazine than knowing that colored people are still having trouble breaking into the marketing industry.

What is interesting is that we all know that it is not all about racism. The problem is access.

Years ago, while we were the lead blogger for the PRSSA Blog, Edelman CEO Richard Edelman wrote a compelling post about there being fewer minorities in internship pools because of the environment many minorities are raised in. Those environments lack the resources needed to be successful.

Role models. After-school activities. Funding and fundraising. Access to quality advisors and counselors. Transportation.

Now, if minorities do escape the loop and find out about careers in marketing and advertising, should they automatically be selected? 

Of course not. We are not advocating some version of affirmative action, but we do believe that there is a disconnect between those minorities who do make it out and those who enter the industry that should be explored.

But maybe we're wrong. And we're willing to accept that. Actually, we would love to be proven wrong on this.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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