It’s a fortune to be able to convert your profession to an online platform without any hardships, during these unprecedented times. For some, that is more than a challenge-it’s plain impossible. Grooming businesses for example, were forced to put a halt on their services as a result of Coronavirus. Technology has come a long way, but we’re far from the advancement of virtual haircuts. For professionals in the field of Public Relations, you may or may not be amongst the lucky ones. Conducting business online in PR is feasible, but a set of credentials and necessary tools isn’t the only factor. Your race also determines your success.
During my publicist endeavors, I’ve encountered challenges, some of which came merely by establishing a name for myself and learning the ropes. Nothing abnormal. However, there were invisible obstacles I had no idea existed until I attended a virtual PR summit this summer. As an attendee, I made it my mission to absorb the knowledge of my peers while simultaneously networking. I learned a lot from listening to the candid discussions held about the industry. Most of the organizers had been in the PR game for years so they were able to speak with confidence to that experience.
For several hours, fellow publicists delved into the phenomenon of diversity in corporate America. This isn’t a new reality; however, more and more companies are acknowledging the need for a heterogeneous work environment and the lack thereof. Their unraveling of racial disparities within PR was insightful, but truthfully speaking, not surprising. It just hadn’t occurred to me yet that systemic racism is so deeply ingrained that it transcends office jobs.
The consensus was that PR professionals of color, do not get the same opportunities as their white counterparts. African-Americans experience more adversity and have to put in triple the amount of work to be successful, they agreed. Major networks and publications often employ white publicists over those of color. Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps does not equate to a fair opportunity in most cases for blacks and/or POC.
There was no question of validity, but my curiosity got the best of me. I did a little research of my own and what do you know…the top PR firms are majority housed by whites. It’s right on the internet! You don’t even have to dig deep.
Truths like this are often discouraging and enraging. I choose to let it motivate me, though. Despite the evil acts we’ve witnessed in the media, I see this time as revolutionary. We live in a time where freedom of speech is next level thanks to social media platforms. Why not take advantage of that?
Racial injustice trends the same as the pandemic in today’s news. On hand it is disheartening to still be amongst of a group of marginalized people, but on the other hand I am grateful we are having these conversations that put us in a position to gain our birthright to human equality. My hope is that the topic will remain an unrest until it is depleted the same as COVID-19.