Boosting Black Lives Matter in 2021

An advertising guy’s thoughts to advance an affordable antidote for America’s anti-blackness

I am mindlessly mistaken that we are still in 2020.

I woke up this morning to hear the same topics (COVID-19 and Election coverage) that we have continually seen through our daily feeds for what seems to be light-years. While I am relieved to see the whole world slowly healing from a pandemic that barely existed a year ago, I am discontent at an issue that the United States has not adequately addressed for centuries: anti-blackness.

Amongst the six topics (culture, culinary, civics, career, challenges, and care), I wrote about previously, I believe this post will touch upon five, if not all, of these topics. While ambitious, I want to empower audiences through my initial posts.

Before we start let’s breathe…

Source: PicJumbo

I trust that any empathetic American supports Black lives — yet, anti-blackness still exists because of the sadly racist constructs that the U.S.A. (a.k.a. “the beautiful country” in many nations) have condoned at varying levels of intention. While Black history can be covered as a part of high school curriculum or celebrated loosely during a month of the year, the problem is that many face obstacles to apply their knowledge of Black struggle.

Last year, we saw an amazing show of solidarity of millions of people through the Black Lives Matter protests across America. The New York Times estimated that 15 to 26 million people had protested in solidarity and Pew Research reported that 67% of Americans supported Black Lives Matter in June. While I am happy that Patrisse Cullors, Black Lives Matter Co-Founder and Executive Director, believes that “we are winning”, I would like to remind readers that a celebrated moment does not necessarily equate to a full movement.

While there were bright moments, steps to garner public support were relegated to a backseat. In the same study, Pew Research saw that the proportion of Americans who supported the movement in September went down to 55%. Although this may be attributed to how BLM is conducting themselves, it bewilders me that more people would not say that they at least somewhat support the movement after hearing about the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, to name a few, last year. An adult’s choosing to not support Black Lives Matter (BLM), does equate to anti-blackness.

As someone who has worked in strategy and business development for advertising agencies and platforms for the last decade, I hypothesize that question we need to solve is how can be Americans more frequent engagement with the movement. While many still contend that the linear fashion of the AIDA model, a funnel that somewhat outdated in the advertising industry, I believe that it can help people visualize how we can connects the dots.

Note: Before we go on, I am not an expert for Black advocacy, history, nor contemporary issues. Yet, I would like readers to have an open mind and potential willingness to carry conversations regarding Black Lives Matter.

In terms of this model, I would like to apply the AIDA model terms to the following:

  • Awareness: One’s knowledge that racism against Black and African Americans exists
  • Interest: One’s willingness to learn more about anti-Black racism
  • Desire: One’s expression that they want to support Black lives
  • Action: One’s frequent support of movements such as Black Lives Matter through donations, attending protests, educating others, participating in discussions, etc.

The keyword here is frequent. A communications professional can contend that the recency effect (which loosely means that a message more recently will be recalled over something covered a while back regardless of impact), is at play. For instance, you may know the about COVID-19 vaccine developments and what certain election officials have done over the last few days over remembering the names of countless Black Lives compromised over the past year because the former topics are more covered recently. While there have been moments that further spark lower-funnel commitment (e.g. desire and action), the momentum fades due to a lack of engagement which would connect all parts of the funnel more frequently. While I want major media outlets to further analyze racism in America, the problem is that it is taboo unless something severely screwed-up happens. Outside of specific moments covered by influential sources, aware Americans may not be sure about how to effectively engage in action-oriented environments especially in a rapidly changing society. If I may, I would like to share a personal anecdote and action.

BOOSTING #BLACKOUTTUESDAY

Previous images that I have used when using the #blackouttuesday
Previous images that I have used when posting for #blackouttuesday

Last year, I was so emotionally paralyzed that we lost multiple Black lives unjustifiable during the global pandemic. This was to extent that I stopped updating social media for a while after #blackouttuesday posts took over Instagram on June 2nd. As much as I supported diversity issues in the past, I needed to soul search to become a better BLM ally. My donations of money and signing petitions were not enough — I needed to be better informed. What I noticed was that coverage of BLM were slowly taken out in favor for other headlines and trends across all multimedia. However, as #defundthepolice became a subtopic out of BLM support, I decided to research more. One helpful resource I saw was the “In Memoriam” section of Renee Ater’s website, which lists countless more deaths due to police brutality. From there, I searched for additional coverage as a result.

By taking time off from posting, I realized that I wanted to take on a different responsibility when I posted in the future. Given the black squares seen in my feed on June 2nd was a source of inspiration for me, I wanted to give back to it. Hence, I have consistently posted at least one #blackouttuesday post a week since September 23rd on my personal account and will do so on my newly created handle for this channel. While I have been questioned of my intentions in doing this amongst non-Black people, the conversations I have had as a result of my sharing has provided more intrinsic value to me. It feels organic to me to share about tidbits and viewpoints in regards to an extremely underrepresented and underserved community in America.

Specifically what I like about posting during #blackouttuesday:

  1. Providing a personal perspective of society: Although some of my favorite courses when in school were in the social sciences, especially when they delved deeper on race and diversity, I have not really found a community to bring up discussion points.
  2. Visuals that can change up how we look at Black-dominant images: Although I posted solid black boxes at first, I am observing how having black dominant images with minor touches can showcase inclusion when posting on Tuesdays.
  3. What I have learned about Black history and issues: At some point in your life you are responsible for learning about the things you want to know. While I am a business professional by trade, I am a Black history amateur who needs to elevate his knowledge on purpose. For me to become more and engaged with all walks of past, present, and future life, professional and personally, I need to continually seek information about underseved communities.

Taking on an ongoing challenge to educate, curate, and carry a conversation about Black Lives may be taxing. While time is a precious resource why can’t I spend at least one day of my week to feature an issue that should receive it’s equal share in coverage if the Black population carries about 1/7th of the U.S. population? If social media is a reflection of society, perhaps there is space for the humans who love the platforms to learn how the world needs to cure itself from anti-blackness. As there are more affordable resources in order to create dialogue, there as many opportunities to attack anti-blackness.

As I finishing sipping black coffee from a black cup, I believe continuing #blackouttuesday posts can be an affordable and awesome antidote for us to tackle anti-blackness. I hope that we can continue the conversation.

The sharing will be continued…

Finishing my cup of coffee

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J.S. Chan

J.S. Chan

Native San Franciscan with Super Overseas Chinese roots. Unleashing an authentic presence through channels such as Medium is my 2021 New Year’s Resolution.