by Shonda Scott · 08 Sep 2020 · 5 min read
Lately, brands have been bravely stepping up to take a stand against racial injustice and other societal ills affecting our world. Almost immediately after the murder of George Floyd, Nike came out with its "Don't Do It" ad. Walmart pledged $100 million for the creation of a center on racial equity. Ben & Jerry's rolled out a new flavor called "Justice Remixed." Pepsi / Quaker Foods has decided to drop its Aunt Jemima brand, whose identity is based on a racial stereotype, and Facebook has created "Lift Black Voices" to highlight stories from Black people and share educational resources.
My father's uncle invented the first fully mechanized sugarcane planter in Modeste, Louisiana, in 1964. He marketed the machine during the civil rights era, selling them for $6,000 and making a $1,000 profit. While he was eventually able to get a patent, he ended up losing about $11 million due to unauthorized copies of his machine. My father's family history is not in history books. It is pulled together from a line of oral history and newspaper clippings; stories that are untold, underappreciated, and buried deep beneath the whitewashed history learned from school books. And as a mixed-race woman, I feel deeply connected to these tragedies.
Walking into a huge beauty store similar to Sephora can be overwhelming as you confront rows and rows of bright products promising clear skin and high cheekbones. But as the light dims and you adjust, have you ever stopped to think about whether that lipstick or blush was created by a Black-owned beauty brand? With August being National Black Business Month, we want to further uplift Aurora James's work on the 15 Percent Pledge.
As a fourth-generation business owner, I was raised with the understanding that business and civic duties were synonymous. And I think if we take an honest look at the essence of civic duties and business we find that, at the core, it's best when they both work in concert.
For the first time in my 25+ years of being a diversity and inclusion expert and consultant, companies are beginning to have conversations about equity in the workplace. Of course, most people understood fundamental equality. But it was difficult for leaders and HR managers to wrap their heads around diversity and inclusion in the early days.By the time I started my business in the '90s, schools and organizations had accepted and pushed forward the ideas pioneered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as he is widely accepted as a forefather of equality because of his legacy during the civil rights movement. I think it also helps that the American revolutionary forefathers had already put forth the notion that all men are created equal. However, they failed to demonstrate any real belief in their claims.