KEY TAKE OUTS
Images matter. “It’s such tired, lazy tropes that are being reproduced and it does material damage,” says Ben Carrington, Professor of Sociology and Journalism. Advertising is often guilty of relying on stereotypes for simplicity’s sake. This isn’t good enough, believes Carrington, a point that is echoed by Matt Readman, Head of Strategy at Dark Horses. It’s time to tell different stories, to reflect new narratives and help inspire the next generation.
Creating leadership opportunities. For Michael Johnson, Specialist Coach for England U21, football’s biggest downfall is the lack of opportunities at a leadership level for Black players to move into. 33% of black players play the game in England. But 4% and less hold managerial positions while there is merely 2% in senior leadership positions. This is typically due to the perpetuation of the myth that Black athletes are powerful and fast rather than intelligent and creative, with the latter attributes seemingly more essential for leadership. But, Johnson asks, “how best can an organisation really understand these issues if there’s a lack of diversity at the top table?”
Advertising should be held to account. This is a sentiment expressed by Carrington as he reflected on advertising’s history of perpetuating racial stereotypes. He sees the moment we’re in now as one of education and self-reflection; as a time to embrace uncomfortable conversations and to ask ourselves, “are we willing to do the right thing?”
Advertising has a role to play in debunking the myth of the Black athlete. This can be through telling the stories of Black role models through a different lens, focusing on attributes that haven’t historically been given attention. “It’s about time we start to use advertising to probe this myth and debunk it and unveil it for what it is which is complete fiction,” says Readman.
We have reached a pivot point. Carrington believes that while we have reached a moment of change, it is as yet unclear what that change will entail. First and foremost, explain both Carrington and Readman, it is a process of education, of understanding the history; “because if you don’t understand the history, you’re just carrying the views of people from the past,” says Readman.
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