“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Though his birthday was this past Friday, today we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As a federally recognized day of celebration, it feels right to share my thoughts while everyone is paused.
This past year has been a tremendous awakening and reckoning for so many. Not only do we continue to live through, and fight, a worldwide pandemic, we’re also fighting another of this nation’s deep, dark ills – racism.
As a Black woman in the event industry I’ve experienced racism more times than I can count. I’ve been mistaken as the help at large private estate weddings my company planned. I’ve had caterers refuse to speak to me and only address our client simply because “[the client] didn’t need to waste her money on [me] .” I’ve been left off a venue’s preferred list despite having worked there numerous times. I’ve watched industry parties planned, while not receiving an invitation, despite having met and worked with nearly everyone in the room.
I remember having an internal battle when I first launched my website as to whether or not I should post my picture under my bio. I feared that clients would pass my business by because I am Black.
The struggles have been many but I’ve also been blessed with many allies in the industry: those who encourage me, uplift me and have made space for me long before it was a hashtag. They know who they are and don’t need praise or accolades for doing the right thing. I see you!!! We see you!!!
However, it’s the silence of others that has helped me realize not only where they stand on the issues but that I am needed in this space. My voice is needed. My Black owned business is needed. My commitment to showcasing diversity is needed. My commitment to uplifting and supporting other Black owned businesses is needed. My honesty is needed.
As many people turn their focus to diversity, I plead with you not to take up the space already occupied by Black business owners. Amplifying Black voices or showcasing diversity isn’t simply having a styled shoot with Black models or posting your Black clients as a way to attract Black costumers.
Amplifying Black voices means you are making space for the Black owned businesses already existing in your area by raising their profile – not your own. That means reaching out and asking them to design or photograph the shoot, referring them to your clients and using your platform to raise their visibility and standing in the market – not validate yours.
As we pause today to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ask yourself: will you remain silent, or will you commit yourself to proactively, deliberately, consciously – and most importantly, conscientiously – speak out against racism in your life, and take action to heal it? I choose action and pray you do too.