Monday, November 19, 2012

Employing Your Passions

I have a lot of conversations with myself (via writing, of course) involving whether I'm really doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

I pacify myself with saying I need to be doing what I'm doing in order to build experience and have proof as to why I'm capable of x,y,z. Yet, I'm still left with this feeling of being incomplete.

My generation has been fed this notion that your job is supposed to be something you would do for free. We're encourage to be artists and writers and that we can live our passions out through our professions. Yet, what I've realized is that this has bred a lot of confusion and mixed feelings about my situation. It also leaves me measuring what I do professionally as my contribution to this world.

After recently fully digesting the knowledge that advertising is just a shift in perception not necessarily quality of life. I'm feeling quite shitty about this "contribution" I'm making.

On the flip side, this brings me back to my initial reason for entertaining the current segment of the field that I'm in---multicultural. In which, I've been of the belief that I can use this logic of altering brand perceptions into also altering perceptions of people of color within media.

If I've learned only one thing, it's been that advertising drives every form of media that we consume. If you combine that with the fact that advertising is based on making sales and the growing multicultural population is what's growing those sales. Theoretically, this should encourage more accurate portrayals of the multicultural consumer within media. Right?

Let's bring this to African American specifically, since that's my personal passion point.

Where I'm seeing the challenge, is most traditionally African American specific properties have this outdated hierarchy system. They employ these older and out of touch professionals to speak to a generation of African Americans who grew up way differently than them. Older African Americans fail to realize that we all didn't grow up being oppressed, in overly impoverished environments, or needing someone to "have our back". However, we grew up with access to different types of people and experiences.

The limited bubble of who and what the African American experience is will continue to be the downfall of African American networks and older African American agencies. African Americans in general are always pushing to break stereotypes, yet I find these properties more guilty of perpetuating them than their General Market counterparts. The oversight is that we are in an era in which you can reach people via their interests and most times that is more impactful than targeting someone based on their ethnicity.

I will feel like I've accomplished something, if I'm able to switch the limited perception people have of African Americans. We're always painted as this one-dimensional being, yet there are so many things about us beyond the associations that can be made based on the color of our skin. I find it remarkable how often I surprise people with my varied interests. Or when people realize that just because I'm black, it doesn't mean that I can pull off being the cool kid in every situation. Or that I'm deeper than rap and although it is a passion point of mine, I have a wide array of music that I like and appreciate.

Stereotypes need to be broken, true. But all I want is for people to not be surprised to find out the depth of my being. That simple.

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