25 FEB 2021
For Us, By Us, an employee resource group at MediaCom and the collective GroupM ERGs, developed a series of virtual events for Black History Month, focusing on "Deconstruction & Reconstruction."
Their events explored the historical impact of negative stereotypes in the Black community, how the culture reconciles in the present, and a look towards the future.
The first event, "Debunking the Myth of Black Fatherhood," discussed the misconceptions of Black fathers as absent, criminal, or inactive in their child's development. When the reality is very different, for example, when Black men can be in their family's life, 70% of them are loving, supportive, and present fathers. The panel featured Kirk McDonald (GroupM NA CEO), Sean Williams (Founder of The Dad Gang), and Kevin C. Riley (Founder of The Dad Gang and Bronx District 12 Council Member), with Anthony Gauthier (MediaCom Manager, Paid Social) as moderator. Together, they praised and redefined Black fatherhood through their dialogue.
"Unboxed," the second event in the series, was a fireside chat focused on mental health and its impact on the Black community. Highlighting representation in media and mental health from an intersectional perspective, presenters sought to normalize mental health conversations. Of the 34% Americans that identify as black, over 16% reported having mental illness this past year. They also shared self-care exercises for long-term positive gains within the Black community. The panelists were Kai Lawson (Global Partnerships of Talent Partnerships), Walter Greer (Executive Creative Director of Experience Design at VMLY&R), and Ariel McGrew (Founder of Tactful Disruption) who facilitated the chat.
For the third event, For Us, By Us collaborated with Wavemaker and GroupM ERG, Melanin to host the Official Black Wall Street X Marketplace Monday. Inspired by Tulsa's vibrant predominantly Black Greenwood District in 1921, which was unfortunately set up in flames due to unprecedented racial violence. Today, Official Black Wall Street functions as a platform supporting Black-owned businesses to build their market presence. The virtual shopping experience provided consumers with a great chance to learn about shop founders and their products.
The last event, “Making Media Moves: Black Women in Today’s Media Landscape” was a collaboration between GroupM’s Lift & Rise and our Women in Power ERG. This virtual event focused on acknowledging how Black women have helped shift the cultural landscape. Ultimately, though these advancements have been made, progress remains stagnant within the media and advertising community. The panelists were Kimberly King, Vice-President (One Platform Marketing of NBC Universal), LaToya Drake (Head of Media Representation at Google), Giselle Phelps (CEO & Founder of GJP Media Services), Michelle Holmes (Managing Partner, Global Account Director at MediaCom), and moderator LaToya Christian (Managing Partner of Multicultural Marketing at GroupM). This honest conversation focused on how we can learn from the character and resilience of today’s history-making Black women, the challenges that still exist for the advancement of Black women today, and how we all can play a part in promoting equity within the business landscape.