“I THINK PART OF IT IS ACCEPTING THAT [THERE IS] SO MUCH BEAUTY IN BEING BLACK.”
X TINA KNOWLES X
A couple of years back, after living in Lexington, KY for nearly a decade, I was tired. Tired of observing the same people in the same elite, exclusionary circles throw parties, host events, conjure marketing campaigns, and write local magazine features that seldom featured a person of color, let alone someone who looked like me – a BLACK person. There is power in seeing black people on public and widely viewed platforms. It says that black people matter. It says that black people are a valuable audience. It says that black people are gifted. It says that black people exist.
You’ll notice that I said “a couple of years back.” That’s how long it took me to actually bring this project to life. A number of things held me back, but the main obstacle was the fact that I didn’t make it a priority until now. The irony of this fact looms large, as I think about the targeted audience of this project – folks who don’t make inclusion a priority.
The goal of “Why Not Us?” is to shed light on the lack of inclusion in Lexington, KY and beyond by gathering bold, talented, and hella black creatives in one room. It is a family portrait of black creativity, tenacity, and visibility. And that visibility matters. I want other black creatives, and young future creatives, to see this and know they are worthy of being included in Lexington’s creative mix. They are worthy of being hired at agencies. They are worthy of being invited to blogger events. They are worthy of being a face in a campaign. They are worthy of performing in local musical showcases. We. Are. Worthy. And we have so much to offer.
I also want everyone to know that we are not a quota to be filled. Just because you have one person of color, or one black person involved in a project, or invited to an event, that doesn’t mean your inclusive work is done.
YOU CAN INVITE MORE THAN ONE BLACK PERSON TO BE A PART OF SOMETHING
I have been at WAY too many events where I am the only person of color present among scores of folks. I have even been told before that I was a last minute invite so there would be “diversity” at the event. So I challenge you, coordinator, planner, etc., make your next event as inclusive as possible. And then the one after that. And so on, and so on, until inclusiveness is a beautiful reflex, and not something you have to “check off” of a list of annoying tasks.
Head to my Instagram (@prettystrangedesign) to read more of my thoughts on inclusiveness in the creative world, and enjoy below several of my favorite images from this shoot.
X PRETTY STRANGE X