Update: This post used to link to Campaign Zero. A reader directed me to two concerning tweets from two key members of the organization who recently stepped down (see Samuel Sinyanwe’s statement here and Brittany Packnett Cunningham’s statement here). As a result, I’ve removed the link to Campaign Zero and am now linking to Black Lives Matter instead.
Many people are wondering if it’s OK to market their businesses right now. I just addressed this question in my Weekly Marketing FAQ. It’s an important one, so I wanted to share it here, too.
Is it OK to market your business right now?
I have a confession to make: I’m afraid to answer this question. I’m a privileged White woman. I have a lot of work and learning to do on racism and White supremacy, and I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing.
How many well-meaning White people stay silent because of this same fear? How many of us are more afraid of saying the wrong thing than we are for the safety and well-being of Black people?
White people, we need to stop that shit.
To my fellow White business owners:
The cost of our silence is far greater than the minimal risk of speaking out against the injustices of White supremacy.
We have a responsibility to use our wealth, power and privilege to be anti-racist. We must work to actively dismantle these racist systems that benefit us at the expense of everyone else. This work extends to our businesses, too.
Your clients and followers might get angry. Some of them might unfollow you or even stop doing business with you. Have the courage to let them go.
Yes, we have businesses to run. We have families to support, livelihoods to earn. Our ruthlessly winner-take-all system has ensured that even in times of great crisis, we must still find ways to meet our financial needs.
So, back to my original question…
Given that most of us do have families to support and livelihoods to earn, is it OK to market your business right now?
I can’t answer that question for you. It’s entirely your decision. But if you’re White, I don’t believe you can separate that question from the question of how you’ll also use your privilege and platform to be anti-racist.
If it helps, here’s what I’ve decided to do. I rely on the income I earn to support my household, so yes, I am continuing to market my business. I’m doing all the things I normally do — this newsletter, engaging on Twitter, managing my website, public speaking, and taking new client meetings.
At the same time, I’m using the platform I’ve built to support Black lives and Black businesses with my words, actions and wealth (including monthly donations, which are essential for the sustainability of this work).
Vague, prettily-worded statements (I’m looking at you, corporate America!) are useless. Don’t do that. If you want to support Black lives, commit to actually supporting Black lives.
Read the books in your newly formed anti-racist book club, yes. But don’t stop there and think you’ve done enough. Hire Black employees and consultants, and support them however you can to help them succeed in a system that wasn’t designed for them. Long term, work to rebuild that system to be anti-racist. Support Black businesses. Give money every month to programs that benefit Black people.
Use your voice. Use your actions. Use your wealth, power and privilege.
Do this for the sake of Black lives, with no expectation that you will or should benefit in any way, and let your marketing be an extension of those actions.