by DC Livers
MAJOR MOMENT: Over the first weekend of February 2019, I attended a series of events – and had a few experiences – that would redefine who I am to myself and the way I will present myself to others.
While attending the Scene Unseen: Race in Film festival at Trinity Church in New York City, I found myself feeling out of place. Here it was, Black History Month, the time that I’m supposed to feel most celebrated. The room was filled with people of every hue who had voluntarily gathered to discuss racism, how to get rid of it and to celebrate each other for doing so.
Ironically, one of my supporters – who is a White man – told me about the event. I think I came mostly because he wanted me to more than out of a genuine desire to attend.
For clarity, consider this: I live every single day dealing with racism. It’s not just a part of my life but it’s my job. As the founder of the Historical Black Press Foundation – which grew from a white paper I’d written in 1999 about how the digital divide would effect Black owned media and the Black Press – my inbox is filled with an array of moments of racism every single day of the week. I wasn’t exactly excited to spend a Saturday talking about racism.
On top of that, I’d just finished attending #Brandweek – a two day conference that was supposed to get brands thinking about their audiences – but instead was yet another event that forgot to include Black people. One of the few Black people that attended was Bonin Bough – who was the marketing guy for Shea Moisture and one of the people who helped purchase Essence Magazine, which is now Black-owned again because of the purchase.
In my opinion, Bonin is a national treasure. We should have an entire day dedicated to him. He’s helping guys like LeBron James do things on epic levels. He’s a super dope growth guru who helps companies “scale,” meaning make money. I loved hearing him speak at Brandweek. He was astounding – and I really liked Bonin – but minutes into talking to him I was surprised to hear him say, “The problem with Black people is…” He argued his point that it was unfair that Black people don’t let Black-owned companies seek out a diverse consumer and that they have to be all about Black people. I dug the way he defended his point. A true scholarly answer from a guy who literally worked at Oreo but I was also offended.
What’s wrong with making a product that is solely for Black people? Black women spend EIGHT TIMES more on hair care products than any other consumer. What’s wrong with making a product and owning the market? I got the feeling was he was really saying was, “Black women get on my nerves and here’s why.” I’d be lying if I said I didn’t understand what he meant. Sometimes, Black women get on my nerves – and I’m a Black woman.
Aside from the occasional annoyance that Black women bring, I’m all in for Black women. Black women are saving Facebook from bankruptcy. Black women are the reason #BlackTwitter is so powerful. Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs.
From a business perspective, Black women are the perfect demographic for every marketer. That’s why I created Black Content Factory – which will become the first co-working space dedicated to Black women with the goal of helping them increase their funding from HALF of PENNY on the dollar to 10 cents. I know it’s not equality, but it’s a start. Besides, what’s less than HALF a PENNY? It’s also why I created BlackWomenCEOs.com to be a weekly breakfast series hosted by NYC tech companies.
But what Bonin said next would really fuck my head up. He said, “Oh that’s right. I forgot to mention Black History Month. I meant to do that.” It was a moment that I may never forget. How was it possible that he could forget about Black History Month? How could he look into the audience – which was a sea of White faces – and forget to talk about the most lucrative consumers on the planet who just happened to look just like him? That was a defining moment for me because it was clear that while Bonin is very much a Black man
whose kinky, coily hair cannot be overlooked, he had been hired as “the Black friend.” I don’t want to diminish his amazing personality and prolific presence. He’s an absolute guru, a perfect speaker for a conference like Brandweek and a really fun guy. But his Black experience seemed optional. Mine is not optional.
Bonin helped me scale my thinking about diversity, about being a woman of color. I’ve simply outgrown it. I’m ready to grow to epic proportions but in order to do that I had to say goodbye diversity and claim my birth right. From now on, I’m no longer a woman of color. I’m a Black woman. I’m no longer a supporter of diversity. I am a champion of Equality. There’s a major difference and I credit Bonin Bough for helping me see that.
Back to the point of the Scene Unseen event, in the end I decided it was Black History Month after all – plus I really dug the logo for the event – so I went. I am very grateful that I attended because I wouldn’t be writing this opinion/editorial breaking up with diversity and inclusion if I didn’t.
Also, ironically, shortly after leaving the event I was nearly violently attacked by a young, racist Dominican girl who was so angry that I asked her to stop using the N-Word that she literally had to be held back by her male friends. I captured the experience LIVE on Instagram complete with some context about the situation.
Recently, I went to Twitter and officially broke up with Diversity. I wanted it to be quick, painless and as public as possible so I wrote:
“I’m breaking up w/
#Diversity #Inclusion and saying goodbye to #WomenofColor to define me. I’m done with ONE SIDED RELATIONSHIPS that leave me feeling played, like I gave more than I got. From now on, I’m 100% #EQUALITY #EqualOpportunity – #BlackTwitter – DC Livers”
As I began to research the difference between Diversity and Equality, I gained a better understanding of how power full what I had done was. The Internet defined Equality as about ensuring everybody has an equal opportunity, and is not treated differently or discriminated against because of their characteristics. Diversity is about taking account of the differences between people and groups of people, and placing a positive value on those differences.
The term WOMAN of COLOR has always bugged me. I could never shake it because I knew I didn’t identify as a Woman of Color. I identify as a Black Woman. I began to think about how everyone is getting their own pronoun or definition or term but Black Women. We’re made to feel bad if we say we are Black Women and not women of color.
At my table during the luncheon portion of the event, there was an African American man. He seemed particularly upset that I was at his table. When I gave my feedback as we were going around the table, I mentioned something about the Gucci #Blackface sweater and what it meant.
The white lady next to me at the diversity focused luncheon said, “I’m sure they didn’t mean to do that. They probably didn’t understand that it would have such an effect.” I said, “I’m pretty sure the company did understand but there’s still a market for oppression. Some people are willing to pay for products that remind us or highlight it.”
The Black man at the table actually interrupted me and said, “What does that have to do with anything? That’s not an answer. That’s a rant.” I remember feeling “zinged” because he’d been so supportive of the White women at the table and their contributions.
Even though, there was really no wrong way to answer a question that asked for your opinion, he made me feel like I’d somehow found a way to do just that.
We all made it through that moment, but I never felt comfortable at the table again after that. Later, we’d screen a movie called #Blindspotting by Daveed Diggs, the biracial guy from the hit Broadway play, Hamilton. It was based in South Central, LA (Compton). The movie featured no Black couples. Each romantic interest involved interracial couples.
Famed TV journalist Melissa Harris Perry pointed out that she was “a little surprised” that there were hardly any Black women in the film.” Daveed did his best to explain it but basically it because clear that Black Women didn’t have much impact in his life. He justified it by saying, “I’m just the Black Jewish kid” meaning he had enough problems just trying to fit in at Hebrew school being Black.
It hit me that in each case over the weekend, people had made a personal decision to exclude Black women while supposedly celebrating diversity. Then I knew what I had to do. It was time to break up with diversity and begin the journey of seeking equality also known as equal opportunity.
I AM A BLACK WOMAN. That’s my power. That’s my strength. I’m proud of it and to be honest you’ll be lucky to know me because I have been appointed the voice of Black Millennials – who are mostly Black women – and they are spending $13.5 Billion every thirty one days. They trust me to tell them which companies are for us, care about us and which ones don’t. I am prepared to be a gatekeeper for Black women, Black millennials and their money.
My name is DC Livers and I am a Black woman.
ABOUT DC LIVERS
DC Livers is often called “the IT girl” when it comes to social media. In 1994, she became one of the original Black girls who wrote HTML code and helped create some of the nation’s most impressive urban online and digital properties including BlackWomenCeos.com, BlackKidz.com and others that helps mainstream media and brands connect with coveted consumers. She is credited with putting the first Black newspaper online, starting the Black podcasting craze and started LIVE STREAMING in 2004 from the BET Awards.