How to Support Black People in the Beauty Industry — Op-Ed

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It’s official: We’re in the middle of an overwhelming moment in U.S. history. But it’s a moment that calls for a reset, and that can only come from non-Black people taking a long, hard look within and examining some of their attitudes and actions — conscious or unconscious — that have historically marginalized Black people. Racism has insidiously manifested into the fiber of daily activities, down to things as granular as our beauty routines.

We’ll all need to arrive at tiny moments of awareness and acceptance at every turn. When creating fun and unique designs with edges, we will have to consider how historically Black women have lost job opportunities and livelihoods because those same looks were viewed as “ghetto” when they originated them.

We’ll need to watch with a discerning eye, instead of consuming YouTube video after YouTube video about how to contour our noses, and ask ourselves whether we are perpetuating the notion that Black features are less beautiful.

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We’ll need to certainly consider whether the products we buy are not just green, but also Black so that we can contribute to the restoration of economic wealth for Black entrepreneurs. And while all of that will certainly elevate us from the history which we’ve come from, it will not provide transformational change.

There is work to be done at every level of our society and of our lives. As it relates to beauty, here are a few more immediate efforts that must be made.

Advocate for Black Beauty Influencers

We have heard the story for years: Beauty influencers are developing entire empires from brand partnership opportunities. Through the lens of today’s Black Lives Matter movement, however, the story becomes fraught with layers of exclusion.

Clare Brown Meneely, a Black influencer who has been in the space for many years, recently offered meaningful education to her community via Instagram about the reality of influencer culture as it relates to Black creators. The takeaway: While Black influencers exist, the industry has long treated them like they don’t matter.

“Black influencers are plentiful. There are thousands of Black bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, and other content creators who are doing amazing work and want to partner with brands,” Meneely explains. “Many Black influencers are seasoned professionals who have been at it for years — but they have never seen a major collaboration come their way.”

When it comes to wealth generation, then, it seems as though there is a cap for Black creators.



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