Black and stressed out. – By @G_Medford

Black and stressed out.

Being a black male in Britain, seems to be on trend currently. It is definitely the hottest topic that has everyone talking about their contributions to systematic racism in the industry, but I don’t genuinely feel there is going to be an actual change anytime soon and the majority of companies that recently pledged solidarity with the black community, promising to take action on inequality and “maintain inclusive cultures that are sensitive to the enduring injustice and pain of racism”, have done this to protect themselves from a public backlash and actually don’t have a solid plan on how to put this into action. I have a feeling they probably sent round emails to their black and minority ethnic colleagues trying to get them to give them advice on how they can seem more culturally inclusive as a knee jerk reaction within the current climate.

There is a problem within the creative industry, in that there is a lack of black people at senior roles, and many black people leave the industry because they get shelved at junior levels and do not progress like their white counter parts. These things are facts not fiction, I have known this for years and experienced it when I worked in broadcast, so I know its not a problem that is unique to the industry. This issue is right across the board and is just a part of being black in Britain.

Given these known things, I still want to pursue a career as an Art Director, and I want to be the change I want to see in the industry, but I do not know how to do this! Getting hired is a mammoth task within itself and currently something that gives me sleepless nights. Contacting people in industry to maybe become a mentor to myself and give me feedback to my work is made even more difficult when they do not share any common ground with me. This task is the most nerve-racking thing I try to push myself to do at the school. How do I build a repour with ECD and CD’s of companies? How do I show them that would benefit from a person with my background? These people are naturally drawn to teams that they feel comfortable to be with, teams that they can relate more with, teams that they see as themselves when they were starting out. How do I deal with these unconscious biases when many do not know that these things exist? I need to be hired by an ECD or CD seeing my potential, not just ticking a box on diversity, so they can say they have another black person in the office.

There aren’t all that many people who I see myself in, currently in industry, let alone any who see themselves in me, but I would love to have a mentor I could really relate to personally. At the moment, it all feels a bit lonely but I strive to find someone who can check up on me, making sure I am on the right track to make my dreams come true and I am making the work that wins pitches and steals clients.

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