The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) created Black History Month (BHM) which evolved from Negro History Week that Carter G. Woodson created in 1926. Every year, ASALH announces a theme as the topic for that year. In 2023, the theme is called Black Resistance because of the constant push that Blacks have had for rights, freedoms, representations, and more in all forms and institutions.
We are still resisting.
The push for various equities continues. I don’t get particularly political publicly, but I recently was invited to speak on a panel for BHM entitled Black Resistance: How Marketing Professionals are Resisting the Status Quo and Thriving in Their Careers. It got me thinking more about this and here are some takeaways from my contribution to that panel and answers to the main questions.
What does resistance mean to me in the context of marketers or professionals thriving in their careers?
BHM was intended to bring attention to the contributions of African Americans in the U.S. In the marketing or professional context, resistance means not letting the barriers that marketers (or other professionals) may face in general like being overlooked, demeaned, or undervalued for your contributions. This can be even more so if you’re a person of color--you may encounter various obstacles that hinder you from obtaining your recognition and professional goals.
For example, as marketers in general, of any race, gender, age, etc., a challenge is that the profession can be misunderstood and undervalued. Although it’s a great and coveted profession, there are people, including colleagues, who don’t understand it. Sometimes, that person can be your boss, which makes it more challenging. So marketing doesn’t always get a seat at a table, meaning marketing professionals are not always included at a top strategic level of the organization where they are part of the conversations that drive the direction of the organization. Instead, they can be relegated to the execution function of implementing the strategic direction of the organization. I co-authored an article about this with ASAE and was on a panel specifically about it, so I feel passionate about marketing and people getting that high-level strategic position within the organization. Then, you couple that with being a person of color in marketing, and you may encounter those additional layers that may prevent you from having a seat at the table.
How do you resist and thrive?
So resist accepting the status quo and stand up for yourself. Those barriers could be from your peers, your boss, or within yourself. Do not let yourself be pigeonholed, stereotyped, or succumb to whatever may hold you back. Instead, strive to do these things so you can thrive:
Think strategically about your career and make decisions that will point you toward your target. In marketing, we talk about the target market and target audience. Think about your target career and set your goals to reach them so you’re not taking aimless roles and making aimless decisions.
Have help (or a network in this case) from your support system (like the American Marketing Association) that you can depend on that will help you through hurdles.
Reflect, rebrand, and reposition yourself if needed.
Invest in yourself and your individual development.
Value yourself first regardless of what happens and persevere. So resist the negative people and the negative talk and keep going. Use your determination to not give up.
Express emotional intelligence because it sets people apart and is a major factor that distinguishes good managers and leaders apart from bad ones.