Lesson Five - Respect Black peoples' value when planning Black History Month projects
Any act of reaching out to Black communities can be completely undermined if you don’t reach out with respect - or a budget. Remember that Black History Month should focus on supporting communities and not on how your company can cut costs.
WHAT BLACK HISTORY MAKERS SAY:
“Brands and businesses feel like they’re doing us a favour. But we’re the ones doing them a favour by giving our time and energy.” - Tanya Compas
“Don’t ask people to do all the work for you. Don’t come without a plan or a brief. It’s not about Black people explaining how they can help businesses - it’s the other way around. You have to respect our time.” - Tanya Compas
“Brands need to decentralise themselves from Black History Month. It’s not about what they are doing, it’s about what happens and how the communities respond. Put people, messages and communities to the forefront. Ensure that whatever is done is a company-wide project and not just something to make ethnic minorities feel heard.” - Khalia Ismain
“Don’t attempt to rebrand Black History Month as BME History Month. Let this space be as it was intended. If you need other spaces, they can be created too.” - Rhammel O’Dwyer-Afflick
“Don’t even talk to me about helping your brand during Black History Month if there’s no budget. It demonstrates a lack of value for my input.” - Chanté Joseph
“If you’re not planning on paying a fee for my time and making a contribution to charity instead, don’t choose the charity for me. What’s more, you should pay Black people for their time and make a donation.” - Tanya Compas
“When a business tells someone that they want to do something for Black History Month but don’t know what, that is consultancy. You would normally pay a consultant, so don’t ever ask me to do it for free.” - Rhammel O’Dwyer-Afflick
WHEN IT’S DONE RIGHT:
GYMSHARK X DANIEL BRAMBLE
GymShark donated almost £9,000 to Daniel Bramble, a long jumper who had been raising money to compete in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
WHEN IT MISSES THE MARK
AS YET UNNAMED COMPANY X JOYCE KUDIA
Celebrity Chef Joyce Kudia was offered a £50 gift voucher as payment for a Black History Month project.
WHAT WE SAY
While it’s not always about the money, businesses do need to invest in their Black History Month projects, just as they would with any other project. A gift voucher is something you tend to get from a family friend who barely knows you - definitely not something a company should give you instead of a pay-check, and definitely not during BHM. In stark contrast, GymShark’s generous and unsolicited donation demonstrates their understanding that it isn’t about them pushing their own agenda, but about helping others in real and practical ways. - Sarita Lewis, Production Director