Today marks the start of two special awareness months.
It’s Pride Month and National Indigenous History Month in Canada. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month just wrapped up and before that, it was International Women’s Day and Black History Month. We’ll also have a National Disability Awareness Month and many other months, weeks and days dedicated to people who don’t get the spotlight for most of the year.
Allies, have you ever stopped to wonder why these days, weeks and months are necessary? Or do you simply participate because you feel like it’s the right thing to do?
One thing I’ve noticed in all my adult years is that these special awareness events are the only time that people who fall into the “diversity” category are acknowledged, represented and celebrated in media. In fact, many brands take these occasions as an opportunity to market themselves as diverse and inclusive without doing much work on the inside to dismantle systems of oppression.
I’m sorry to rain on your parade if you were hoping for the typical celebratory post today. But it’s past time that we consider putting the spotlight on marginalized communities year-round — not just when certain hashtags are trending or you have the approval to use the diversity line in your marketing budget.
Yes, these moments are important. Yes, underrepresented communities need more awareness and support. But no, it is not OK to send signals that you care about people one day and then ignore them the rest of the time.
As a marketing strategist, I’m extra critical of these special observances and always ask people WHY they take certain actions and HOW they plan to sustain them. If you consider yourself to be an ally of marginalized communities, I challenge you to do the same.