Infographic via Tumblr post | AlJazeera

Other Posts from the 2015 series #BrandingBlack

Has #BlackHistoryMonth been exploited and commercialized?

An honest conversation about the role of social media in helping empower the next generation of African Americans [link to an episode that isn’t featured with Mark Anthony Neal & Kimberly Ellis]

On brand and being black in America by Jelani Cobb

Convening Black History Month with the commercialization and appropriation of the culture today

+Commentary: Sadly it seems their ‘month-long’ coverage in 2015 ended up being a few smattering of articles, since they seem to have taken down video (as in the first link above) and don’t leave them up indefinitely. With the future of the channel doomed to collapse, and in hope of someone buying the assets, perhaps at a later date they will be archived somewhere.

This raises a formidable question, as social media managers use the month to perhaps target a group of their customers, and to highlight the programs their company participates in. This form of ‘corporate accountability’ as a tool of branding is well worn, and certainly anyone with experience in the non-profit world is aware of the ways company align, and hopefully elevate their brand, by sponsoring certain charities & NGOs as a form of giving back.

Certainly the adoption of Black Twitter lingo (Bae, Fleek, et al…) in the past year or more, highlights even more acutely the fact that corporations and companies in general try to profit off of the cultural caché that comes with popular Black Culture without necessarily giving back or doing anything meaningful. Then in the month of February maximize that by participating in appropriating or exploiting these connections.

Which would lead in this day and age, where the consumers have a visual & pop culture vocabulary that is considerably accelerated from generations previously there are many pitfalls that present themselves. Are you being culturally sensitive, or exploitative? These are baseline questions you have to ask, and hopefully with a diverse staff can get a broad range of responses before hitting send.

Leaving this to a hip intern is also a recipe for disaster. Trying to come off as too cavalier or edgy about it can land one in to hot water, especially on Twitter.