Recently the founder of Fohr, James Nord recorded a video as part of his Drink with James series where he spoke on the lack of diversity in the blogging industry. His response upset, angered, and caused others to post their own response videos. I however did not feel anger. I felt an opening to speak to someone in the decision making part of the industry.
I have been speaking about the lack of diversity in the industry for years. It is nothing new to me and it will continue to be something that I use my voice and actions to help affect change. But I will not do it without offering solutions. I will no longer do it out of a place of anger. I truly want to be the change we want to see in the world and anger does not solve enough. We are often so dismissive and angry that nothing comes of it. I am here to help ignite solutions rather than incite more of a divide.
Trust me. I used to get so angry and have all these posts about it but now I want to solve this rather than just be pissed.
Fohr is a company that has prided themselves on educating, promoting, and empowering bloggers in the industry. They provide insights on our analytics, create press kits that can be sent to brands and they also work with brands to find influencers for projects. Basically, they are all things influencer magic.
The Drink with James video series is typically a 5-10 minute long segment where Fohr founder, James Nord speaks on various topics, issues, and even educational tips for bloggers and influencers. I do not often watch them as they do seem a little cookie cutter for me but every now and then a topic peaks my interest and I listen in. Rarely do I disagree with his sentiments.
Last week the episode was about the lack of diversity in the industry and addressed some parts of #RevolveSoWhite. Some feel that the timing is a little late but I believe it is an evergreen issue and the more voices who sing against lack of diversity the better. In the video James Nord touches on the lack of diversity in the blogging industry and specifically calls out Revolve for always using the same thin, “white looking” women in their campaigns and for their sponsored travel. It is easy to call Revolve out because everyone has for so long but my question is- when do companies like Fohr call themselves out. I guarantee Fohr’s employee pool is not diverse in any way shape or form. I don’t believe that he was trying to “skirt” the issue. I am usually quick to call people out but I think the response was more “meh” than it was intentionally dismissive. The video felt more like a careful balance of wanting to get views (ours!) while still keeping the brands they work with happy because we are still being excluded. I am sure it is uncomfortable to be an ally. But we need them and I am open to hearing from them.
One part that upset many was his use of “intimidating” when explaining that most companies are part of the good old boy club and then the employees are white so they may be “intimidated” to reach out to a community they don’t understand. I do not agree with this because our POC community is not an alien force. It is not hard to send a POC blogger the same pitch email that you send to others. We can rep ANY brand out there just as well than our White or light Asian counterparts. Style has no skin color. Marketing has no skin color. We POC infuencers can market, sell, and influence just as well!!!
I do believe those words were poorly chosen and I don’t think James Nord was trying to put us down or scapegoat but instead try to explain why the lack may be there. But the answer is simple. Most of these companies are racists or prejudice. They would rather adopt our culture rather than pay our culture. Regardless, we are over the talk and want action. I truly believe that James Nord wants to bring about change and be an ally. We should be open to a healthy and transparent dialogue about this with anyone who is willing to be an ally. Let’s dismiss being dismissive and welcome being open to listening and having healthy dialogues.
As a POC blogger I am tired of being passed up for campaigns. I know my content is quality. I know my engagement is great and I know I have a very loyal and supportive audience. But the problem is that most of the PR gals who research for influencers do not look like me and they automatically assume that my audience won’t rock what they have to offer. That is what is sad to me. The assumptions. The often all White PR employees who believe that influence only comes from light skin.
I emailed James on Friday to speak more on the issue and offered solutions on what we can do to have a healthy conversation about this. I am awaiting a response and hope that he is open to actually having a healthy conversation about it.We cannot continue to point fingers unless we are willing to take action. Fohr has a huge following and is a perfect platform for all of us to speak and be heard. We must affect change instead of crying about how there is no change. We cannot go hard with angry comments and posts without putting real action in. This is an opportunity for Fohr to bring many of us in to speak on the issue. This is a chance for them to hear our stories as we are the ones navigating the influencer industry. Our stories are the real deal.
We do not have the power.
We have the purchasing power but we do not have the controlling power and that is what needs to change. We need more of a diverse group in the positions that make decisions. Yes, I believe in having a seat at the table but I also believe in supporting the tables that we are building. We all belong. We all deserve to be successful based on the quality of our content over our skin color, age, looks, location, sexual orientation or gender.
Diversity is so much more than just black vs white. Change begins with us.
So instead of using up our energy to point fingers or shame others, let’s put that energy into speaking and meeting with those in power to see what changes can happen. Let’s use that energy to strengthen our own community by supporting POC businesses. Let’s use that energy into being confident enough that we stop begging the brands that clearly dont want us and even when they do come running, we don’t crumble so quickly jsut because we want a seat at the table. Let us not be tokens. Ever.
We have to work for it. There is no other way around it. Because just speaking on it has not done much thus far.
I am ready and willing to help educate others to see why this is bad for the industry. I will continue to fight for what is fair, just, and right. I look forward to seeing an email from James Nord in my inbox tomorrow about this and I believe he can be an ally. We must be open to hearing from him fully before jumping to conclusions that he is not. But please know- we are not here for the tomfoolery. We mean business.
Crop Top: Forever 21
Earrings: Ladie Steele