To fight racism, there’s a new bridge we should cross: Data.
A national reckoning like our current one didn’t spring up then. A call for justice and change - a hundred million strong - didn’t spring up then. Why now?
I think I know. It came out of truth - a terrible truth - that nonetheless gifted tens of millions of people with insight on a visceral, utterly painful level into the Black experience.
It was tragic. But it was undeniable. And for me as a Black man, so recognizable. That’s what truth does. Opens your eyes wide.
My truth is I can do more, I can do better, I need to lead. Year after year in advertising, I’ve checked my Blackness at the door, like it was some unnecessary business distraction, only to be reminded of it with comments like, “You’re so articulate. Wow, you really know your stuff. This doesn’t offend you, does it?” Most of the time I was the only Black male executive in the room. All of the time I said nothing in reply.
I held my words. I held my breath.
I’m raw with emotion. I’m ready. Fifty-five years ago John Lewis crossed his bridge. Today, I’m crossing my mine: to fight racism with all the truth I can find. All the truth I can mine. I’m taking my life’s work of driving more effective advertising through data, culture, and insight – and transforming it into an engine to create a less racist, more inclusive world, fueled by a truthful, inside perspective of today’s Black experience.
It’s time to transform advertising: from diversity to anti-racist.
It’s time for the first anti-racist agency.
It’s time to stand up for the industry I love. The practice of making communication to which I dedicated my life needs saving from itself. The way the business ran in the past is not how this business is going to be relevant in the future.
It’s time for change to include ownership. LVA is a Black owned communication agency. Not just for Black audiences but for all audiences.
I invite you to walk with me. Transformation is in our DNA in this business. I’ve witnessed our industry transform from limited Internet connectivity, interactive to digital, to social listening to data & insights. And slowly, the transformation of workplace inclusion has grown, with equal access to advance based on skill and expertise.