It’s Labor Day, i.e. a weekend jam-packed with over-crowded clubs and premium prices on entry and at the bar. As such, my inbox is filled with more invites than usual and clicking through all those notices, I rolled my eyes. Not because of the spam (how the promoters got my personal address is another rant), but because the women on the fliers for mostly all-Black parties featured a White, Latina, or some “exotic” woman of undetermined ethnicity.
I wasn’t the only one to notice. I logged on to Facebook last week to find Essence.com blogger Jamilah Lemieux exploding over the same issue.
“I would not want to go to a part that is going to be 99.99999 percent Black, thrown by Black promoters...but features White and Asian women on the flyer. Week after week. So please stop inviting me and put a woman who looks like your invariably disappointed mother on your advertisements.”
Surely this trend isn’t new, but I only noticed earlier this year. A pair of friends are “marketing executives," i.e. promoters. They used to text me to come thru to a weekly after work event and bring some ladies. Without ever seeing a flyer, I attended. The core attendees were Black people, and maybe five non-Black people.
But then those friends decided to do a different party -- an international getaway. They sent me a video previewing what was to come in the sun-filled destination. Uh…no go.
On the video, there were pictures of the yacht, of course. But in stock photo after stock photo there were all non-Black women, champagne in hand, lounging on the deck, dancing on the sand, watching the sunset, etc. My first thought: did they mean to send this to me?
FYI: Yes, Black people were the target demo. I saw pictures of the event when they returned from their oversea locale. All Black people, mostly women, a few Black men, and one Sister-loving White man having a lovely time on sand and at sea.
So why weren’t Black women featured in their ad? Black people, Black women specifically were their target audience for years. In nightlife land, the way it works is that you get the women to show up, they do, men hear about all the women, and then they arrive in droves and spend more than women typically do on drinks and bottle service. Black women are the bait to bring in the boys. So why aren’t there Black women on the fliers?
I could offer a couple reasons why this could be. Maybe attempting to diversify the brand, or make their events appear more multi-cultural to appeal to paying sponsors. But those would be poor excuses.
Unfortunately, one of Lemieux’s Facebook commenters pointed out the painful and all to real truth that I didn’t want to acknowledge.
“We pretend it does not exist,” he began all to poignantly. “But we deeply believe that Black or being Black is ugly.”
Based on what you’ve seen, do you think he’s right?
Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: Your Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter at @abelleinbk