Greenwich Village, NYC | June 2018.
Creative Direction & Photos: Cherisse Thurab & William Malone Jr.
Dear Canadian Advertising Industry friends, colleagues, schoolmates, people passionate about creating and changing the world with their minds, people passionate about informing others, and those passionate about being seen and heard:
There’s been a lot happening in the news. We’re all flooded with information. But there was a message sent to the Global Advertising Community a week ago, and it is important that we do NOT ignore it. Change is here!
We ALL need to be the change we wish to see in the world.
Our growth demands it. Your growth demands it.
The facts are:
There have been communities of people misrepresented and mistreated historically.
And systemically. The shift in time has revealed that our industry, as well as every individual within it, needs to address societal biases, so that our industry not only reflects the society we live in BUT ALSO the good people we believe ourselves to be.
Some people have already started the work to dismantle layered systemic issues in our society and industry. And for those who haven’t, it’s time to start.
In an industry that thrives on creating and excelling in the idea of original thought, we must realize that other people’s voices warrant being heard, respected and elevated.
It’s important for us to rewire our way of thinking about those who are unlike us.
Allyship requires standing up when you see or hear something that is wrong.
Allyship asks that you aim to educate others.
Allyship requires an interest in understanding others.
And understanding that other people are an extension of ourselves.
Allyship requires listening.
For the Allies who continue to act, speak and contribute to change:
We commend and thank you.
I have too often seen or heard statements while working and studying in this industry, that have shown me that there is a lack of understanding and tolerance for others. For me, it has been observed and experienced in the forms of:
• Denial of an interview after I’d been seen for the first time in person
• Comments that featured negative stereotypes about people, or places with people who were predominantly Black, Indigenous, or Of Color
• Denial that comments were intended the way that they were received
• Intolerance of people’s names, as it reveals color or culture
• Being sized up
• Being told I’m too confident (for someone who looks like me)
• And much, much more
I’m not the only one that has been impacted. We all have.
I’ve spoken up in many cases, but have also strategically picked my battles. I’ve educated others. Bit my tongue. Called people out. Saw things for what they were. Softened my response to accommodate others. Employed patience. Enlightened others with my presence. I’ve surprised them in some cases and stunned them in others.
In Canada, racism is often not as overt, blatant or physically aggressive as it is in The US, but it still hits the heart and the mind. In Canada, racial intolerance, ignorance and injustice is covert. Subtle prejudices, discrimination, and “throwaway” remarks have created a gap that this generation aims to close. That I hope you, dear Reader, aim to close it as well through your influence and contribution to society. Across my 13 year career as a “Black” Art Director, I’ve lived and worked in Toronto, London UK, New Jersey USA, Amsterdam and Rome. Through this, I’ve observed and experienced ignorance in different ways in this industry. I’ve also seen wonderful displays of inclusion and allyship that has propelled me forward, in collaboration with my tenacity, relentlessness and confidence in our fight for equality.
This generation is different, my friend. This generation demands that we think before we act and speak. This generation demands that we act right. It’s time for the Ad Industry to really think about what inclusion, disruption and change truly means.
This moment may feel uncomfortable, but this is how change begins. Like many of us today, and many before us, I’m so happy we’re finally having this conversation.
I'd like to direct you all to an open letter to Canadian Advertising and Marketing Industry Leaders entitled “Black, Indigenous and PoC professionals (and Allies) call for equity and inclusion in Canadian Advertising and Marketing”. The document asks for all of us, especially the leaders in each organization, to take a stand for anti-racism by taking 12 actions to address systemic racism in the industry. Please take the time to read it through and inform yourself. I believe that it will improve more than just this industry. I believe that it will lead to betterment in everyone’s lives.
If you’d like to continue this conversation, please say hello in the comments and kindly keep it polite. Kindness in education and communication should always be our goal.
Wishing that every day that you live is better than the one before it.
Thank you for reading,
Senior Art Director
Taking our cue from a recent online photo challenge, #MirrorChallenge, we created a modern fairytale– celebrating Spring through tough times.
Earlier this week, after two full months in self-quarantine, I took a short ride around the city and snapped a few photos of Toronto's Financial District in its stillness. Hope you're all doing well.
Love from lockdown,
Still images of downtown Toronto, Canada on Saturday, May 15th, 2020 during the coronavirus outbreak. Photographs are of quiet areas that are usually bustling. Areas include: The Financial District, Dundas Square, Eaton Centre, TTC subway and Union Station.