When movies, TV shows, ad campaigns and magazines fail to be inclusive, sidelining people of color — the impact is not just cultural and societal. It's financial.
Today marks the launch of a campaign called #INTHEBLACK, in which African-American media outlets are uniting to bring awareness of black buying power to large advertisers and general audiences.
As Alexis Garrett Stodghill reports for The Grio:
The #INTHEBLACK campaign will highlight the fact that African-American spending reached a massive $957 billion dollars in 2010, and that blacks' buying power is projected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2015. Noted trendsetters through their consumption, African-Americans comprise only 12 percent of the U.S. population, yet consistently outspend all ethnic groups in several key categories including electronics and entertainment.
Often, when we discuss the underrepresentation of people of color in the media, people step in to argue about the numbers. Since black people are only 12% of the population, we shouldn't be upset that Beyoncé is People's first black Most Beautiful Woman in nine years, they say. But people of color have literally centuries of catching up to do. Even as more and more babies being born are non-white, the concept of what's "mainstream" remains white-dominated, from TV to movies and magazines.
Diversity in the media benefits all of us. If you've ever seen the doll experiments — in which kids as young as 5 have negative feelings about baby dolls with brown skin — you know how important it is for children and adults of all races to be surrounded by positive images of people of color. If looking at diversity as a purely business decision helps — since studies show that black women are 1.5 times more likely to purchase a product advertised by a black model — then bring it on. With any luck, that $1.2 trillion in spending by 2015 will translate into more inclusive casting decisions and expanding our standards of beauty.