Where are all the Black girls in the arts? How many Black girls came of age being told that the only prospect in pursuing the arts was to invest in training that leaves you as a starving artist. There are only a few lucky ones. That little Black girl had better bets to make than pursuing the arts. We close off a world of potential, of innovation, with the ever-pervasive belief that there is no stability in a career in the arts. Then we look up and see a thriving industry in which we are vastly unseen. Where are all the Black girls in the arts?
Adobe’s Creativity’s Diversity Disconnect study, looking at the wider scoop of why minorities, not just Black women, across several categories are so disparately underrepresented in the creative industry. The study makes the case for a push towards diversity. Adobe is also a founding sponsor of The 3% Conference which gathers annually with the goal of improving diversity in advertising creative industry. And at this year’s 3% Conference in New York City, Adobe invited three influencers to help move forward their mission of diverse voices and inclusion. From being a Black girl who left the arts because I couldn’t afford it, because I had no community or support system that would uplift me, to being an Adobe partner — bringing along my #SmartBrownGirls, hoping to change the tide in how our community supports our burgeoning artists. *Insert fire emoji* Accompanying me were two other influencers whose work I have long admired — LaToya Peterson (cause you know I love my Black women writers) and Joshua Kissi, co-founder of the e-commerce site TONL which, in addition to its mission-driven content, has a design that is everything. Great company, indeed.
The 3% Conference tackles the need for more diversity in advertising and even their own need for further diversity within their own conference, which was previously very white woman-esque. This year’s conference, aptly-themed “Beyond Gender,” had clear representation across race, gender and able-bodiedness. My favorite discussion was Stephanie Peirolo on “How to Get Paid What You’re Worth.” During the panel, Stephanie noted that the further down you are on the oppression ladder, the deeper your insecurities steer you away from demanding and receiving your worth. You know Peirolo was a winner in my book when she said, “have the confidence of a mediocre white man.” How did she know that was my life mantra? She also advised to state your desired rate/salary when asked, without explaining yourself. They didn’t ask why you deserve your rate, they asked what it was. Stop over-explaining yourself.
The Q+A portion of a later session moved the conversation from a sole focus on diverse representation to supporting diverse talent as they advance up the ladder. It’s great to give the new college graduates a job but, 7 years later when they are at the Creative Director level, how are we supporting them? Do we assume diversity can only happen at the entry–levels of an industry?
With the support of Adobe, I’ll be exploring this in the coming months. Within the #SmartBrownGirl community, it’s about building the support system from within and providing inspiration for the innovation we all have within ourselves. Stay tuned!
This post was sponsored by Adobe. Though I was compensated for attending the 3% Conference, all opinions are my own.