February 18th, 2016— (ATLANTA, GA)– February belongs to us. I’ll be frank, we often gripe about the fact that Black History Month is also the shortest month of the year—but hey 2016 is a leap year, so take that extra day to super celebrate black culture! Trends to watch in 2016? Big Brands Celebrating Diversity & Inclusion. Finally, 50 plus years after the Civil Rights Movement, brands and organizations have accepted the fact that black people are here to stay.
We have a TON of purchasing power, consumer influence, and we are popular culture. Just yesterday, ABC’s Channing Dungey was named the First Black President of a Major Network! Yes, she also happens to be a black WOMAN—You go girl!
Care to disagree? Google It.
As a brand enthusiast, I find joy in analyzing the behaviors of brands from an overall perspective. When I attended the Essence Music Festival in 2014, I noticed which brands had high visibility and targeted our culture, such as McDonald’s, Ford, and Wal-Mart. Some brands hit the nail right on the head, others miss the mark; like totally. For example, Lifetime Networks attempted to ride the wave of their hit show, Bring It–which is all about black girl dance magic–by introducing a new reality TV show about upper-echelon black folks? B.A.P.S. (Black America Princesses) was an epic fail.
Lifetime did not understand how to integrate into our market with ease. Instead, they chose the most disliked cast members to carry the show and those same cast members were completely disconnected from OUR culture! Needless to say, the show was NOT a hit. Lifetime, didn’t get it right.
Macy’s Got It Right.
Last Friday, Macy’s invited guests to their Lenox Mall location to help them celebrate Black History Month! The People’s Station V-103, Local Media, and Loyal Macy’s customers all gathered to welcome the celebrity panel as they shared their appreciation for black culture.
Panel (pictured left to right):
Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Actress
Taye Diggs, Actor
Chef G. Garvin, Celebrity Chef
Shane Evans, Illustrator
The best part of the evening was hearing the shared experiences of what it means to be black in America. Often we view celebrities as if they’re exempt from improper treatment based on the color of their skin, but this is a misconception. In fact, being black in Hollywood is even more trying because the opportunities are slimmer.
What inspires you?
Check out some of the gems shared during the event:
“What inspires me? Gosh I remember when I was young,I saw Tyson Bedford modeling, I saw how strong, black, proud, and unapologetic he was. I realized I had not seen— on such a broad level, how empowering it was to see a black male who looks like me. I started going to the gym, cut my hair off and the rest was history.”
“There are people in my own community who inspire me. I dedicated a book titled “Underground” to a pastor in my home state of Kansas. The continuation of our strides to inspire one another—I find inspiration in this on a daily basis. My father, mother, grandparents–I’m inspired by their stories.”
— Shane Evans
“Our moms are our first inspirations. My mom raised six kids and was really a single mother most of my childhood. She was so strong and taught me the power of saying No. Its a work in progress. I like to please people and make people happy, but my mom encouraged me to say no. I grew up acting, and what inspired me most is that she could never allow anyone to put any amount of money on us to sell our souls. Honestly, I never met my grandmother, she died when I was young. But, there was always a picture of my grandmother above our fireplace and this reminds me that I am living in her legacy. Keeping this in mind, keeps me inspired.”
— Jurnee Smollett-Bell
There were SO MANY GEMS DROPPED during the In-Conversation panel. I was so inspired after hearing from each panelist as they explained how black culture has shaped their character and passion for living on purpose.
Above all, family was always mentioned. Family, first. Family is what helps us see ourselves in the world.
Food for the Soul.
You know what else blew me away? The food! How about this for a menu to help celebrate black culture: pulled pork, collard greens, potatoe salad, cornbread, apple cobbler for dessert and sweet tea and lemonade to drink!
Ok then Macy’s Get it Right!
There were also party favors for guests including a free copy of Taye Diggs’ children’s book “Chocolate Me,” and Barbie Dolls, sponsored by the Black Doll Affair group. Overall, the evening was a real treat. Kudos Macy’s for being a great example of how to integrate into Our Market, and how to celebrate Our Culture!