The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Toxicity & Hypocrisy Of White Leaders On Social Media …
May 7, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Advertising, Comment

That’s quite the title isn’t it.

Well buckle in, this is a story …

A while back, the UK government released a report stating there was no institutional racism in the UK. I wrote on Twitter that nothing shows institutional racism than the government saying there isn’t any.

A day or so later, a well known – yet anonymous – adland twitter commentator suggested that the UK was one of the least racist countries in the world.

They then added I was misguided with my comment and should never go overseas.

Then, getting into their stride, they went on to suggest context was everything – seemingly suggesting that the size of the UK population meant it couldn’t possibly compete with other countries level of racism – before trying to bait me into an argument by saying I was just trying to be woke.

It was, quite frankly, a near perfect example of white aggression. Not fragility. Aggression.

But that wasn’t the worst part.

What was worse was the lack of people who jumped into the debate to challenge this individual with what they were saying.

Here was someone suggesting if you’re a Person of Colour in the UK, the amount of racism you get – while bad – is nothing like they would get if they lived in another country. And yet despite this … despite trying to use a flawed intellectual argument to hide their prejudice … hardly anyone said anything.

Well, no one senior.

Oh some “liked” my original comment, but no one jumped in to tell this person their words were wrong, decisive and harmful.

And when People of Colour responded, saying this person was wrong and had no right to say it being white [to which this anonymous individual played the classic, “don’t make assumptions about me”] they still kept quiet.

And yet we keep hearing so many of my peers talk about their commitment to D&I and how they’re doing things to change things. Except it appears they forgot to add the clause, “except when one of my ‘mates’ talks racist shit”.

I’m disgusted. But I guess I shouldn’t be.

I still remember how one senior agency exec took to Twitter during the BLM protests to say how sad they were seeing the way African American’s were treated in America. They said that. In public. As if that was new need to them.

Well, I guess it was – which highlights there is no greater privilege than deciding when to care about an issue. And when you can stop caring.

Then there’s the other agency exec who told me I was wrong to challenge what adland is doing regarding D&I because they knew many agencies are doing good things. Totally oblivious to the fact that anyone white doesn’t get to say if something is good, only People of Colour can do that.

Are some agencies – and specific people in agencies – doing good things regarding D&I?

According to some friends of mine who are People of Colour, the answer is yes.

There are some who are making sure they’re hiring more People of Colour. Putting them in positions of power. Creating the environment for them to be able to succeed.

However – and this is the key element – it’s still a fraction of all the agencies out there and a slither of those who came out during BLM and said they were changing and committed to being anti-racist.

Well fuck you.

How dare you say the words when it suits your PR opportunity but turn a blind eye when it doesn’t.

What gives me immense joy is seeing People of Colour starting to not give a fuck. Watching them call people out or creating their own outlet.

There’s members of Brixton Finishing School who are showing a level of bravery and maturity many in the industry could never hope to achieve. And then there’s POCC. My god I love what they’re doing. And I hope they use their immense creative talent to eat more and more into the pie that many of these industry leaders say they want to share but keep to themselves.

I should point out I’m not saying I have got my shit together. I’ve made mistakes and will likely continue too. I’ve written a lot about the impact Maya, Chelsea, Bree and Lani made on my life. They literally changed it. And while I should not have needed their brilliance and generosity to realise it’s not enough to be against racism, I know that to be anti-racist means being anti- racist in all corners of life, even the cosy, chummy corner of AdTwitter.

I had to come off Twitter for a while because I just couldn’t deal with seeing these people talk about wanting to help but then doing things that are actually hindering progress. Maybe they don’t get it but then maybe they do.

Adtwitter is toxic.

Specifically UK/US Adtwitter.

Not for what it says, but what it doesn’t … because when it lets ‘mates’ say this sort of shit with all the confidence of your average white man … then we’re all being utterly complicit in the racism we say we’re against, regardless how many D&I tweets we write.

15 Comments so far
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twitter has always been twatter for me. seems its morphed into fucking twats twatter now.

Comment by andy@cynic

You were right. As usual. Kinda.

Comment by Rob

only thing i did wrong was make you a fucking property baron.

Comment by andy@cynic

What a bunch of wankers.

Comment by Pete

I also think it is inspiring to see how you use your position to not let this issue hide.

Comment by Pete

his only talent is kicking the fuck out of hypocrites.

Comment by andy@cynic

Racism isn’t relative.

Comment by John

Hypocrites exist in all industries but advertising does seem to attract more than most.

Comment by Mary Bryant

Yep … we’re also the ones who talk the most about what we do without doing it.

Comment by Rob

Don’t tell me, they’re all people who talk about how committed they are to changing the system while keeping it the same? Good on you Rob.

Comment by Bazza


Comment by Rob

There are many excellent people working in advertising. The problem is there are many people who could be excellent in advertising who are being kept out of advertising. This situation is not limited to the ad industry but requires more people like you who refuse to let the issue be swept under the carpet.

Comment by Lee Hill

Very true … and of course there are many people in the industry doing great things. But that’s my issue – it’s people more than companies and yet it’s the companies making the big deal out of it.

As for me? I’m not doing enough but it is hugely important to me. I just want to make sure it’s focused on the issue not me – because as I have written down, I see a lot of people trying to leverage this situation for their own gain and that is the absolute last thing I want to do.

At the end of the day, it’s about what you do rather than what you say … and that is what I hope will change because right now, things are not changing enough and even what we say is losing traction of what it was a year ago.

Which is the ultimate insult to People of Colour in some respects.

Comment by Rob

“… which highlights there is no greater privilege than deciding when to care about an issue. And when you can stop caring.” 👏👏👏👏

Comment by Hutch

Yes Roberto.

Jemma xox

Comment by Jemma King

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