Shut Up and Recruit

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Tiffany Warren
Tiffany R. Warren
In response to my last post, Why One Black Creative Just Walked Away, there was a torrent of comments. One reader said that there are two kinds of people "successful talents" and "talentless complainers." Can't I be both a successful and talented complainer? Why can't I use my success to draw attention and awareness to the problem of the lack of diversity within advertising? In another comment, a Big Tent reader said "the blamers write books and blogs and posts and create a little club of similarly disgruntled people, all of whom talk the talk, none of whom walk the walk." Yes, this is a club that I wake up every morning so excited to be a part of! In an earlier comment, another reader wrote that my blog may scare potential advertising industry recruits away with my stories of injustice. Really?

Did people stop visiting the South because of the atrocities of slavery and Jim Crow laws? Did people ask for refunds for their long planned trip to South Africa when apartheid was tearing apart that country's long held beliefs? Did the musicians of New Orleans lay down their instruments when their pride and inspiration were temporarily washed out along with our government's common sense in the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina? Although the aforementioned are extreme examples, revealing the inequalities that exist within the advertising industry will not halt those people of color clamoring to be a part of our wonderful industry. Historically, there comes healing in revealing the pain and the obstacles faced by those who have been marginalized -- those individuals of color, differently-abled citizens, women and those members of the GLBT community who, in our forefathers own words, "are created equal."

To further explain what inspires me to blog under the Big Tent, I offer a more personal example. Foundations and charitable organizations are created daily to draw attention to a problem or a tragedy that has affected society, a community, a family or a single human being. From that awareness, come new laws, policy, or funds to create tangible outcomes that will forever alter the lives of those who are currently affected or have yet to be affected by a disease or a long-held societal ignorance. In my own life, I became aware of the insidiousness of cancer when my father's death came earlier than expected from liver cancer at the age of 48. Until then, to me, cancer was a disease that inspired marathons and mammograms. For some, it takes a personal experience to truly understand another's adversity. For others, it may take mere words for someone to make the necessary connections.

I hope the latter is true for our dedicated Big Tent readers.

The level of spirited discourse created within the comment sections on the Big Tent blog has never been seen before. I am humbled and proud to be a part of the creation of a "newer" reality and a more truthful discussion -- no matter how painful that truth may be to some. Hillary Clinton recently said in reference to the response of the U.S. government to Hurricane Katrina that this is "a government of the few, by the few, and for the few -- and good luck to everyone else" Many would characterize the advertising and other industries in the same way. But hopefully what makes our industry different is that we won't let the problems that have plagued us carry us away in the flood of inaction and apathy that can overwhelm us at times.

Dr. Cornel West has said that "justice is love displayed publicly". Although many would like me to just "shut up and recruit," I will continue to display my love for advertising by publicly revealing the good, the bad, and the ugly so that our industry won't be for "just us" or "just them" but for everybody.
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