This as part of a longer thread came up on my timeline this morning and I think it raised a very important issue about the Black British blogging community that warrants discussion.
Firstly, lets all just take off our rose tinted glasses and admit there is an element of truth to this. The majority of big brands out there who provide the big sponsorship deals aren't trying to court a predominantly Black audience. The Black pound isn't something that businesses are actively looking to get because if it was, you would see more Black faces in their campaigns. Black hair products wouldn't be shoved to the back of the store and our food wouldn't be relegated to the world food section. Big brands like big numbers and high conversion rates. They mostly want a large white female audience aged 18 -34 with disposable income, if they get a few Black consumers here and there that's nice but not really their business.
With that in mind, a Black British blogger that wants Zoella levels of success and those big brand opportunities has to appeal to white audiences quite simply because that's what brands want. That usually means keeping race out of the conversation. Brands do not like to talk about politics unless it's in broad strokes. You can wear a 'Say No To Racism' tee but a 'Black Lives Matter' one is too controversial. In the current climate you can't even say you support Black owned businesses without someone calling you out for 'reverse racism'. You will lose followers and Linda in PR will put you in the 'too political' category and promptly forget your number.
This is the environment that Black British bloggers are trying to thrive in and I don't think we should penalise them for playing the hand they are dealt. We know the burden and challenges of systemic racism. We navigate it everyday. Patricia Bright and Shirley Eniang have reached a commendable level of success in this environment and I don't think we should minimise what they've achieved. These ladies have worked hard and you can't knock their hustle.
We should focus our attention on the system that currently undervalues the Black British demographic. I highlight British because in the US, Black consumers are courted. They are a target audience for hair and beauty products at the very least. We are not courted. Our spending power is not valued. They put us in the ad for the look of the thing but rarely actually provide us with the products we need. Personally I think the time has come for us to stop doing beg friend with companies that have ignored us and our needs and start championing brands that actually cater to us.
The UK Black hair market is worth an estimated £88 million pounds with Black women spending 3x as much as their white counterparts. The shelves in Boots do not reflect this fact but you know whose those, Xsandy's in South East London. Prefer to shop online, visit Antidote Street, The Good Hair Club, Shea Butter Cottage...all owned by Black Brits. Black women want to see their lived experiences reflected in their media. You could cross your fingers and hope Vogue has got you or you could just pick up an issue of Gal-Dem or visit Black Ballad.
There are fledgling Black British businesses up and down this country that with a little support could fly. Follow @UKBlackOwned to see what your people are doing and be impressed. It's part of the reason I started the Black British Bloggers Network. There are so many amazing brands and when it comes to influencing trends like I mean come on, we do that. We need to connect with each other and create opportunities for ourselves. Create an environment where we don't have to appeal to a white demographic to be successful.