(Photo by Taylor Carnard)
“You are Invited to a Diversity Career Fair in NYC on Fri. Sept. 30th!”
I immediately confirmed my attendance after receiving that email. I also forwarded the email to all my friends who are people of color (POC) in advertising and mentioned it to a non-Black friend of color during an ad class.
He expressed his confusion on the choice to name the event “Here Are All The Black People” (HAATBP). The White guy next to him asked, “’Here are all the Black people?’ Why not ‘Here are all the people’?”
This is why the event exists — to answer questions like these.
HAATBP is a one-day multicultural creative career fair in NYC that provides students, graduates and creative professionals the opportunity to network and connect with diverse talent.
Droga 5, the creators of the emotional spot of Misty Copeland in “I Will What I Want,” Oglivy, the masterminds behind the controversial 2015 Nationwide Super Bowl commercial and many other notable agencies were there giving feedback on portfolios.
I heard from black professionals who reached the bar and set it even higher. Janyata Jenkins, who’s worked on campaigns such as Apple, Beats by Dre and now Twitter, lent words of wisdom. Tech company Blavity’s cofounder, Jonathan Jackson, was there as a panel moderator. There was a talent pitch, too, during which ad professionals showcased their unique assets for the chance to land their dream job with a top agency.
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To say the least, I was empowered.
Empowered to run home and watch 10 hours of Lynda to get my graphic design skills up. Empowered to continue working on myself. Empowered to want to be a Black advertising professional to show others diverse talent exists. I say “exists” because, of course, advertising lacks diversity. For the three years I’ve been a student at Temple University, I could count on about four hands how many people of color were in my ad classes altogether.
Temple has a minority organization for almost every major there is — Temple University National Society of Black Engineers, South Asian Health Student Association, Black Professional Health Association, etc.
We have communications-related ones, too — Temple Association of Black Journalists and Temple University’s Black Public Relations Society. You see advertising is missing. It’s time to fix that. Being around such phenomenal talent that day, I want to witness that environment come into fruition here on campus. I want every minority advertising student to experience the feeling of fully being in your comfort zone and not in the paradoxical space we are challenged with daily.
It can get discouraging, not seeing yourself represented when you’re a POC who is hungry to make a difference, regardless of whether advertising is your expertise or not. Here are the lessons I learned at #HAATBP:
- Be who you needed when you were younger.
- Failure isn’t a pit — it’s a ladder to light the way of what you’re supposed to be doing.
- Do not take no for an answer.
Take one of these and use it as an affirmation. Say it to yourself in the mirror. Say it when you feel defeated, because what I took from that day is to keep going. We each have a story about our work that needs to be shared, and all deserve the chance to share it.-30-
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