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Code Black: Combating Anti-Black Racism in PR

Anti-Black racism, systemic barriers and accountability are new trending topics. And maybe we can say that thanks to COVID-19 and the resulting popularity of social media, common experiences and narratives that were siloed within Black communities, are now mainstream conversations.

Today there’s a communal consciousness that anti-Black racism and systemic barriers must come down. But how? Now that we’ve agreed on the basics and have identified obvious manifestations and impacts, where do we go?

Three years ago, I started Code Black Communicator Network, with Renee Weekes and Bunmi Adeoye, as a resource for the advancement of Black communications professionals. We exist to provide inspiration, guidance, mentorship and representation.

Our latest project, a manifesto to combat anti-Black racism in communications, is about where we go next. What actions can be taken today to contribute to a shift in our industry and therefore a shift in our communities and country?

  1. Acknowledge that anti-Black racism is real and systemic racism is experienced by Black people in a specific way
  2. Prioritize diversity in recruitment, including leadership positions
  3. Be diligent in creating opportunities for Black talent to gain paid internships
  4. Actively seek and support outlets that serve the Black community
  5. Recognize the talent of Black creators beyond Black campaigns
  6. Use press trips as an opportunity to connect with Black media
  7. Hold media outlets accountable for racial bias in storytelling
  8. Acknowledge the contribution of Black creators and pay them fairly
  9. Commit to representing Black talent on both sides of the camera
  10. Mandate anti-bias training for HR
  11. Create a safe space for Black employees
  12. Listen to Black people and create lasting policies

Read the full manifesto here.

Diversity in hiring is one piece – probably the easiest. Beyond this, our industry has the ability and responsibility to contribute and advocate for better narratives, treatment, and inclusion of Black people in media and creative spaces. We are storytellers. It’s not just about where you can find the story or how many people saw it. But also, who’s seen in the story, who’s telling it and how.


Maxine McDonald
Senior Director

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