How to Address Racial Issues (Online) as a Business or Brand

Updated: Sep 14


Today is June 1, 2020. Within the past three days, I’ve been receiving hundreds of NEW reactions from Instagram and Twitter on this photo (left) that I took and posted back in 2017 from people all over the nation. This was a photo of me posing in front of the "All Power to All People" representation statue in Philadelphia by Hank Willis Thomas. I was appalled to see that this has again become a hot topic online, but this was the key to wake me up and realize again how deep all of this really has grown to be. A week ago from today, I knew with every bone in my body that the city would be opening up again on the road to recovery from the global pandemic COVID-19. Well surprise surprise, when the #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement resurfaced, I was stuck for a while. Swamped so much with emotion, I couldn’t talk about anything online until days after Philadelphia riots escalated. Now that I have my emotions together I would like to do my part by helping others do theirs.


I’m sure many people are wondering how to respond to national and global outrage, I am here to talk about this with you. Maybe you feel like this kind of communication can be risky or maybe you feel like you don’t know what your place in it all should be. Well, let me be the one to tell you that you have to say something! Do not stay silent. I won’t be giving you the actual words to say but listen closely because you have exactly what you need already.


You or your brand doesn’t need to have “the” answer but you need to have a care, a stance or a viewpoint in issues this big. If you leave it up for interpretation through silence it does nothing but cause negative judgement on you and your business -- whatever business that may be. Silence is always recognized and will add to the damage.


I, personally, am emotionally drained. To be honest everything happening now makes me cry -- fast. My first resort has been prayer. I don’t react how my “body” wants to react. The only thing that I know for certain right now is I believe that no one needs to lose their lives because of things like fear/hate, racism, or police brutality. I also understand that when people feel like they are not being heard things will continue to get worse until they demand everyone to pay attention.


Do not be afraid of your level of opinion. There are protestors and supporters all from different walks of life. No one should be told how to hurt or how to feel, so leave room for that in whatever your response to all of this is. To truly not be afraid of your opinion also means to not be afraid of the responses you will get. People will talk out of anger, people will talk with words of encouragement and support -- expect it all. Either way this will give you so much more information about your audience that you will need to know and also learn from.


I stand with y'all! My heart goes out to all of the small business owners, black community, peaceful protests, outraged protests etc. Not rioting doesn’t make me or anyone else less hurt, involved, or ready for change. We all have different roles in this. Find yours, it’s not your time to be the emotional victim. I give that honor to those who have experienced loss and tragedy first-hand. These people hurting are our brothers and sisters. It doesn’t have to be blood relation to understand. I’m ready for change and I hope that my community’s voice has been heard.


Make sure to only address things you honestly believe. False opinions don’t go unnoticed and that is worse than saying nothing at all. So in conclusion, don’t stay silent, take a position but actually mean what you say. If you support inclusivity then you definitely have an opinion on #blacklivesmater and racism. Tap into those thought to find out exactly what it is.


On a more technical note, pause your scheduling queues! Either schedule your promotional content for a later date or repurpose your content to help with the current situation directly. Check out my previous blog post for more info on scheduling queue etiquette: https://www.yahnejackson.com/post/businesses-and-coronavirus


Understand that you don’t have to be a problem solver. In times like this, people are looking for support. That is all.