From its origin in Galveston, Texas in 1865, Juneteenth commemorates African American emancipation in the US. Why do you think it has taken so long for this day to become a holiday?
"... With liberty and justice for all" has historically been proven to mean justice for some. America is perceived as the land of freedom and opportunity and although this is true, it is also a space of assimilation. The more we understand the beauty in our differences, as opposed to echoing sentiments such as, "I don't see color," the more we will begin to appreciate the wins of individual cultures within America. In the future, I hope to see the celebration of intersectional identities come to fruition: Black Lesbian/Gay community, Black Trans community, Black immigrant community, etc.
Will you be giving space to people who wish to celebrate? How does observing this day create more awareness?
The call to action for this day is two-fold: celebrating past achievements AND acknowledging the work still needed to be done (*cue Black National Anthem). For non-Black individuals choosing to celebrate this day, it is important to have conversations unpacking the nuances of their privilege. If this day is celebrated without action, the holiday will only aid in America's complacency in addressing the systemic, racial issues pertaining to the Black community.
Equal opportunity starts at the grassroots level and the structure of the advertising industry makes it extremely challenging for BIPOC to enter, without the right network. Do you have any programs in place to make it possible for underserved communities to access the industry?
The D&G Talent team establishes and maintains partnerships to expose underrepresented communities to the industry since we believe it is too late once youth get to the college age to expose them to advertising/marketing. Some organizations include Year Up!, AEF MADE, Save the Internship NY, 4A’s MAIP, One Club’s WAATBP, Film2Future, Light Bringer Project, and Dynamic Girls. We have provided creative staff opportunities to join the agency program from these partners to inspire more diverse collaboration. We are very grateful for our long-standing connections with them in our network.
Do you think our industry is progressing well enough towards greater diversity at the executive level?
Perhaps the industry is moving in the right direction, but I believe the industry is focused on the wrong wins. As opposed to acknowledging the hiring of Black professionals to executive-level positions, we should be celebrating the culture-shifting work we are putting out into the world, led by those individuals hired. It is not only important to have Black representation, but it is equally important to have the Black representation capable of challenging the culture. The individuals in these positions should not celebrate themselves as the only one, but rather take on the responsibility of creating space for more to come.