Women in Advertising

There is a woman that I work with who I also follow on Instagram who has posted stories about white women every day for the last two weeks. The stories are always negative and talk about her hatred for white women, what white women do wrong, how dumb they are and what they need to learn. It’s starting to make me really uncomfortable, I have unfollowed her but now can’t stop thinking about it during meetings. Any advice?

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As a white woman myself I have been listening to the criticism about white people’s lack of action and instead of being offended, I’m trying to learn and improve my own actions. Her criticism is rooted in things she’s experienced first hand and so if you keep thinking about it, it’s probably because you feel guilt and like her message targets you meaning you’re complicit and part of the problem. This is not the time to silence black voices that make us uncomfortable. It’s time to listen and learn.

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Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Listen and learn.

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Also women are constantly saying “men are trash” and it’s kind of accepted and okay because we know what kind/type of man we’re taking about. And the men who take that statement personally are usually the men targeted by that comment. After centuries of racism and lack of support from white women, I think black women have every right to say “white women are trash”. Because she’s thinking of the white women who aren’t willing to confront their own privilege.

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@OMD that’s such an important thing to acknowledge. Black people aren’t playing the racism game but have to deal with it anyway. White women may also choose to rise above, but because the system benefits them, they cannot ignore the privilege that comes along with that.

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Welcome. This is what it feels like to be a POC all our lives. Bathe in this feeling and try to take it in. Then, come and stand with us.

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I have a gay female friend who has a male trans husband who constantly did this same thing in social media about all straight people. Both people in this couple are my good friends. By that, I mean we’ve been to each other’s places for dinners many times, had movie nights, been there to comfort each other after lay-offs. We’ve exchanged birthday and valentines gifts. We’ve helped each other numerous times producing side projects together. We talk a lot. But the posts were making me feel ostracized. So I just started replying to them (in DM) and agreeing but defending my own position as a straight, LGBT ally. To my surprise, each time she would reply and say, “I know! But you’d be surprised how narrow minded / traditional our own families / locals in our neighborhood are”. I realized she really wasn’t talking about me. But it’s the shorthand way of her getting her message out there. So even though it’s hard to read, I read it and support it now. I know I am an ally and I speak up for what’s right at any opportunity. Hope this helps.

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Performative allyship - see recent diet_prada posts for great examples.

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Its people like you that are refusing to learn and grow which limits the progression of this country. There is a deep rooted history of white women and racism towards black men. Did you know that? Have you confronted your own racism (we all have it)? Not to be harsh but only a truly problematic racist person would have issues with her posts. Not to mention social media is an imperative platform and tool right now. Please look inside yourself and ask yourself why they are bothering you oh so much. Then use that to grow. ❤️

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@oglivy Valid. I guess I just haven’t seen that in my own relatives unfortunately, so I haven’t seen that passion firsthand. But you’re so right. Respect! ❤️

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Well said everyone. I’ll add that seeing white women who terrorize(d) me and other people who look like me in the workplace suddenly post about their eyes being opened to racism or black lives matter makes me angry. I get more angry when they reach out asking if I’m ok with recent events but are oblivious about their behavior towards me. These are the same people who when I told them about blatant bias and microaggressions, essentially said I was making it up or too sensitive. Im not alone in this. My colleagues are sick of it and rightfully calling people out, some privately, some publicly. Either way, it needs to be said. I’m sure that this is uncomfortable to you, but imagine having to actually experience it.

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Preach! Someone who sent around a naked picture of a Black man so everyone could laugh and talk about how gross his body was definitely asked me “how I was doing” at this time. This person doesn’t know I know about her racist incident. It made me so furious. This is also someone who told me, after meeting me, she didn’t know if she should try to be my friend or if I’d kick her ass. There is nothing that makes me look like I’d fight someone other than my skin color.

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Perhaps this woman is triggered by the recent events and constant reinforcement of violence committed against Black bodies. This is rooted in the the subconscious fear and bias from many white people that black people are dangerous. Read up on the impact of Amy in Central park and the dangerous history of specifically white women weaponzing their privilege (strongest example, Emmet Till). Absolutely condemn all forms of hate. Equally, check your own privileged discomfort (black people feel this everyday) and come from a place of empathy. Is this her standard behavior? Assuming not since you originally chose to follow her. It’s coming from a place of mourning right now. Sit with that.

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VaynerMedia 1. That question is analogous to “Do you still beat your wife?” I am just posing questions. I find the vitriol from Talent Director 1 abrasive.

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I'm also a white woman and I want to second what a lot of the people in this thread have said, be uncomfortable and research how terrible we are. Take the comments left here by woman of color the most seriously and look hard at your past actions. Instead of feeling defensive about feeling "called out" take it as a learning opportunity. We have privilege, that is undeniable. We shouldn't get angry, we should listen and research how we can improve. And then we should hold other white women accountable.

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likesmart
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This.

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I have another perspective for you OP: think about the fact that you are merely feeling UNCOMFORTABLE. Is it life threatening? Do you feel fear and anger towards the legal system everyday? Do you worry about being shot while jogging in a park? Are you ever afraid that someone might call 911 when you are just birding but you will still get in trouble? And a less scary but more relevant to work question: Is it thwarting your career trajectory? If your answers are NO, then you are among the privileged, we all are. So just BE UNCOMFORTABLE for once, ok?! Let black community vent, let them be angry, they are asking for what you already have for centuries! They are asking for basic rights, they are asking for mere fundamental dignity of being humans! Let’s be UNCOMFORTABLE, we have all the privilege in the world, we can take it.

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Actually OP, it looks like C1 mostly asked a lot of questions, and did not make many statements. She said- IF your answers were no. Did you actually ask yourself those questions? It’s very hard to look inward at this time, but it is a good exercise for all of us. Her statement read to me as though you might be the one who could expand her boundaries of empathy. (Again - COULD BE.) I don’t know you from Adam.

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OP, you make comments about “being okay with” her previous posts and “letting them go” as if her feelings of anger and frustration are uncalled for yet you’ve “allowed” her to continue to voice her opinion. That’s it, right there. That attitude like it’s your world and you allow her to do or not do something. That’s what Black people and other POC are damn tired of. How about asking her so that you can truly understand where she’s coming from? You’re wallowing in your own discomfort. Learn. Grow. Or just shut up.

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I mean...... is she right??

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@VP OP, maybe instead of thinking about how uncomfortable YOU feel, perhaps 1) acknowledge the pain and hurt that this woman experienced in her life, or witnessed that made her feel that way 2) you follow this woman. You opted in to her personal life. That’s where IG and personal life + professional life gets real blurry. Essentially you opened her diary, then had the nerve to judge her FOR WHAT SHE WROTE personally. That’s not fucking fair. If it was the social account of your agency, that would obviously be different. But you follow her, and you can just be quiet from here on out. 3) Do you know how many Black and brown women have to see the ignorant ass shit that white women at their workplaces post and stay quiet All👏🏽The👏🏽Time👏🏽. The CEO of Lemonhead LA (a white lady, named Megan, of course. Look up the story. It’s gross.) just got outed for PUBLICLY posting pics of herself in blackface and saying/ranting all kinds of racist trash over the years on her Facebook page. So the deeply uncomfortable feeling you’re feeling is just how most Black and brown people feel much of the time at work or personally when they hear white people being ignorant and racist. I am a white woman and I confess, I really really REALLY dislike (wouldn’t say “hate” cuz I don’t want that bad juju on me, but close) a lot of white women and their behavior and hiding behind white supremacy. 4) maybe instead of thinking in meetings no less-focus on your OWN shit, and do your job?-about what this woman posted on her IG, perhaps you could REACH out to her and see how she’s doing? Tell her that you recognize how shitty things are right now, and that you are sad too? What does she need? How could you step up and be a white woman who interrupts the pattern of shitty white women she’s experienced? 5) This post reeks of white privilege and the self absorption and pettiness that makes us as white women look bad to our Black and brown sisters. I am embarrassed for you. And for us. Do better.

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As a white woman myself and nearing 50, I have learned over the years that everyone probably has a terrible story that got them to where they are today in their careers. As women we know we have had it tough but as a black woman? Way way harder than me! It’s true for all genders, races, rich or poor, sexual orientation and I can keep going. It’s best to learn from it and keep your head up high and above criticism. You can’t change her but you can choose to ignore her social channels and in my mind even say to her if she brings it up in her work life that you would rather not talk about her views and it makes you feel uncomfortable. That usually startles someone in to rethinking how they approach other people with their views on things in the work place. You can change jobs but you will always have someone else bother you in the next place.

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I didn’t read the president’s comments as encouraging dialogue. It stops short at expressing discomfort and redirects to HR. It read a little more like check your grievances at the door and work hard because everyone has issues. And I get that, this is what I often do at work. This is what I think many professional people already do at work. However, this falls short of acknowledging that certain populations repeatedly are burdened with systemic issues that get in the way of their career paths. Passing the buck to HR simply is not the answer in and of itself. For one thing, there are companies that don’t have HR (I’m at a startup that doesn’t have one). For another, HR in most blue chip companies I’ve been at are rife with politics, and while they do a lot for the organization, they cannot be tasked with changing the way employees treat each other. At some point, it takes leaders at organizations (with titles like President) to address these issues head-on instead of referring them to HR.

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Watch this.

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As a woman of color in this industry, reading through this thread was so triggering. Some comments gave me glimmers of hope, but wow do we have work to do as an industry. And the fact that OP is a VP is terrifying to me. To be a *leader* that is so bothered by a black woman’s pain that you can’t stop thinking about it during meetings? Then to so blatantly ignore or keep arguing with the very calm, educating, and helpful replies they’re getting? All that shows is this VP has made up their mind, and they refuse to acknowledge that generational black pain will ALWAYS outweigh temporary white discomfort. And the scary part is this VP is refusing to listen, and has the power to silence this black woman’s voice just because they’re “uncomfortable.” (Yeah, even if they are at the same level title-wise, let’s acknowledge white vs black power dynamics in our workplaces.) And all that silencing will do is perpetuate and feed the prejudiced work environments we’ve been working in for far too long. My heart hurts for us right now 💔

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likesmart
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Get to the root cause of your feelings and if you know her well enough perhaps you can have a safe space conversation with her to tell her how you feel. But be prepared to hear how she feels, as well. She has possibly experienced micro-aggressions in the workplace and possibly (likely) overt racism, bias or exclusion from white women. She could be uncomfortable all of the time at work. This moment in time when the country/world is protesting inequality could be very cathartic for her. POC often have to suppress their emotions toward inequality in the workplace to progress and stay employed. Unfollowing her was a good move for you. It happens all of the time. I recall co-workers unfollowing each other during the last election cycle and since, after discovering their viewpoints toward certain incidents.

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I think the best thing is to mute this woman. When people are being accusatory on Instagram whether self-righteous or outright hate, it seems more an issue with themselves and how they’re dealing with (very understandable) anger vs anything to do with their followers. I know many people who lash out at others when they’re going through shit or less & less since I have cut many of these people out. In the meantime, as others have said, we have a responsibility as white women to educate ourselves and be part of the solution in every way we can and there are resources for this beyond following her. Also worth thinking about creating boundaries between work and social media

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3 - racism IS an issue that’s been going on longer than the current period, over 400 years in fact!!!! 4 - next time someone posts negative content, maybe stop and think to yourself “why are they negative? Do they have a reason? Would I feel that way? How could I support them?” 5 - I don’t give a shit about what other people post on their own Instagram

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I’ve been learning a lot by checking when I feel defensive, offended or uncomfortable by what black people say. It’s helped me to imagine that they’re responding to something that would trigger me as a woman or as an Asian American. Would I be that pissed? Would I respond in spaces I felt safer than the work environment, or other spaces typically not safe for anger? This reframing has made me recognize that many of the feelings I have not paid attention to from black people are the exact same feelings I have if a group I identify with experiences an injustice, large or small. And then to imagine that within the context of racist American history, and the deadly racism today, and I’m like, ohhhhhhhhhh. I can’t believe I dismissed that as “not my problem.”

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Speak to a psychologist. I’m not being snarky. No ones expected to just understand complex feelings around issues overnight on their own. Whatever you do that works for you, do it. You’re the only one who can make yourself stop feeling like a victim getting triggered each time. But professionals can definitely help teach you how to get there.

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White women are tools for patriarchy and white supremacy. If that’s you, do better. If not, get over it and mind your business.

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I thought this was the time for honest conversations?

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VP OP It is and we are giving you honest feedback. Based on your language and offense to her posts, you need to do some research on intersectionality - how it feels to be a double minority so that you can better relate to and/or empathize with Black women. The lady with the dog in Central Park is a common persona in the workplace. Imagine being a Black person and having to report to her or be on a team with her....the micro aggressions and bias displayed in her language and actions. Enough for someone to say I hate that type of white woman, because she is dangerous. Yes, it is shocking to hear someone say they hate a group that you belong to - especially when you thought everything was fine, more importantly, that you were fine. But as many have said, this is nothing new to Black women and men who are judged daily based upon their skin color, not on the content of their character. Find the strength to talk to her about how you feel, but don’t expect a feel good, rah-rah dialogue. She will likely speak her truth and you should be open to listening and internalizing it. This will allow you to gain more perspective and self-awareness of your own behaviors and hers. Then decide if you can have a relationship with her outside of work. There are plenty of people who I know have beliefs that I don’t share, but I still have to work with them. I am glad for your post — I have always felt that the Blacks in Advertising bowl was problematic because others don’t get insight into how we feel or the experiences that we face daily at work and in life. This dialogue was good for all.

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