I’m proud to live in my predominantly white town (Vancouver, WA) but I’m not going to sugarcoat the difficulties of succeeding in spite of the barriers of being a Black Marketer. I was prompted to publish this because I don’t want to add to the problem, but be part of the solution. The solution is bringing awareness and helping others open the doors to the tables of where these decisions are made.
For those that want solutions and not context, here you go:
- Open the doors of opportunity with micromanagement and no trust.
- Build the table to be inclusive.
- Bring the people of multiple layers of differences together, and not just skin deep.
We have to help each other.
Therefore, it requires all of us.
For those that want context, continue reading.
Local Black Businesses
Due to Black History month, I found a post on LinkedIn promoting black businesses. After going to the site directly, I was extremely disappointed to not be mentioned. I’ve had a business in my town since 2006.
“How am I being overlooked with all that I’ve done?” I asked myself in disgust.
The easy answer is simple. A Black professional doing anything outside the stereotypical norm takes a bit longer for people to accept it. I’m not saying all people fit in this box, but the majority who haven’t worked in diverse groups in their experience.
When I shared this with some of my closest professional friends, they advised me to let them know- which makes sense and totally doable. However, I won’t and will not raise my hand to tell them they missed me. I believe my hard work will speak for itself but I’ll concede.
I’m a Black business in Vancouver, WA.
NDUB Brand is ran by a Black man in SW WA.
Nathan Webster is a Black Marketer running his own business.
There we go!
Now, I believe that was unnecessary but I also understand not everyone believes in the value of working with different groups. And that’s why I say marketing while black. This is the whole reason why I went into the marketing field. I’m realizing the lack of Black voices and experiences are missing from the table and how we got here. It’s part of the history, which is why I love learning about Black Wall Street.
I’m not speaking for the other BIPoC folks and groups, nor am I speaking for all Black people. I can only speak on behalf of me being black and a man while marketing. So I don’t mind being an “ink spot in a bowl of milk,” I’d like to change that so it doesn’t always have to be that way.
For those changes to happen, my goal is to create solutions and not be about the problem. Therefore, I went to work on creating that change and started to connect the dots. Last year, I put in a significant amount of work and money to host a conference in the middle of the pandemic because representation matters.
I’m still looking for other peers in my industry when it comes to websites, marketing, and consulting. I work best when I can speak the language without having to code-switch.
This kind of behavioral adjustment is casually referred to as ‘code-switching,’ which has long been a strategy for black people to successfully navigate interracial interactions and has large implications for their well-being, economic advancement, and even physical survival.
I am happy, applaud, and grateful to see the significant amount of women, especially professional black women around me, because I don’t believe my mom took a management position because she didn’t feel supported. In my local area, I’ve seen multiple BIPoC women take leadership positions- it’s about time. As a father of three mixed little girls, I can point to them and say, “You see. They did it. You can do it too.”
However, I can’t say the same about BIPoC males, especially Black male professionals. It’s extremely difficult to find for different reasons, but it’s a major problem that needs to be addressed. I can find Black men in other spaces, but not at the table in rooms that require a specific set of credentials.
I’d also like to work and uplift Black men for projects. Between marketing and developers, there’s a massive shortage of minority workers. So when it comes to design, video, or content, it’s going to be predictable it won’t be a person of color unless I’m intention with my search, invitations, and where I post. And depending on the client, I may not have time to be picky.
Why does that matter?
When you code-switch, not everything gets translated word for word. It’s no different than men and women. There are different strengths, weaknesses, and skills to leverage as a team. And unfortunately, Réland and I, count no more than 10 black folks doing marketing (businesses) in the Portland-Vancouver metro area.
So I think it’s important to understand I reemphasize that this isn’t about bashing entities that highlight Black businesses during Black History Month. The purpose behind this post is for everyone to look at the conference rooms they created. When I put a call out to have a meeting of professionals under the BIPoC, Women, and Veteran categories, my table was beautiful with variety.
I think it’s important as we’re, as I’m looking to find other partners and peers and other entities that can make our world better that doesn’t have our background, skin color, religion, set of beliefs, education level, family size, sexual orientations, and whatever else that separates us. In order to solve complex problems, you need to have diverse thoughts, skills, abilities, experience, and aptitude. I don’t believe adding a DEI department or head is needed to be more open about opportunities and inclusivity.
- acknowledging another person’s journey goes a long way and is a good start
- mentorship has always been a solid opportunity for those looking to give back
- share opportunities for all parties can grow
- invite more people to the table and at the table to increase exposure
- hire a DEI professional to have those uncomfortable conversations and make systemic changes if you can’t do them on your own
- sponsor a podcast called “Let’s Talk Marketing”
- and much more if we work together
I love what I do and I found others doing awesome work too. Look below at the “other related resources” for Black marketing professional sites.
Nathan A Webster, MBA
Other related resources:
Here’s What African-American Customers Really Want From Your Brand (And 5 Surefire Ways to Market to Them)
Being a Black digital marketer in 2021
Black Marketers Association of America