GroupM CEO Kirk McDonald shared a personal story about what it means to be a Black dad and how it is indicative of the issues facing the ad world during a SXSW panel over the weekend.
McDonald shared how one of his children received a felony-level ticket for driving less than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit, an infraction, he said, white friends would have never received. McDonald fought the ticket and it ultimately wouldn't tarnish his child's life ambitions, like college, he said.
After the panel, McDonald shared that this was the first time he told that story publicly. He said he did so in an effort to discuss how the ad world needs to move beyond stereotypes and make an effort to genuinely reflect Black culture.
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The panel, titled “Beyond Black Stereotypes: Redefining Black Fatherhood,” was moderated by Porscha Scott, director of marketing and events at Wavemaker, and included Kendricks Thacker, founder of 100 Roses from Concrete, a platform for people of color in the ad industry, and Sean Williams, founder of The Dad Gang, a space for Black dads. But the conversation went deeper and explored pressing issues for Black employees in the ad world.
Scott choked back tears discussing the hardships Black professionals face in the advertising world. At one point, Scott recalled Philando Castile, who was killed by police in a traffic stop in 2016. Scott said she had overheard co-workers discussing the shooting with a certain callousness and lack of understanding. “They don’t get it,” Scott said she thought to herself. She also discussed how it can be uncomfortable for Black co-workers to be themselves and meet in groups without feeling the eyes of the office upon them. “I’m fighting right now not to cry,” Scott said.
McDonald, who in 2020 became CEO at GroupM North America, said that was why no one should hide any longer, not in advertising or anywhere else.
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