$100 M investment for economic opportunity

I remember scrolling on Instagram last year and seeing the first ad placements for Netflix’s Strong Black Lead Campaign. As a black woman, I was moved with seeing people who looked like me at the forefront of media, owning and telling our stories. 

This trend has grown popular with Netflix, who is constantly producing new content. While their new shows like Black AF have often been a source of black pride and joy, underneath is still the harsh reality of the racism I experience daily. All overlooked as I focus on leading a business with a mission to empower the voices of those who are unheard. 

Our founder’s intentions around co:census are incredibly personal. I grew up in the Bronx up until the fourth grade in a low-income neighborhood that was significantly under-resourced. In middle school, I moved to Bushwick, which was then a mostly black and Puerto-Rican neighborhood. In Bushwick, our local train station was falling apart. The schools lacked proper books or even infrastructure. And a lack of housing and economic opportunities led to ongoing social unrest that was not solved until gentrification displaced most of my neighbors.

So when I read about Netflix’s announcement to invest $100 M in economic opportunity –not just investing in stories but in actual communities and lives– I immediately thought this was a solid example on how to move beyond media narrative and into transformative work. We understand not every company makes the best actions; there is still work to be done and we accept progress over perfection.

Starting with narratives

A month ago, we wrote about shifting narratives on black communities –specifically about data and covid-19. And it is because we fully understand how narratives can spin into stereotypes we are conditioned to believe. But the time to go beyond narratives is here –we have to foster opportunities for engagement, inclusion, and access that leads to social and economic impact in black communities. 

In their blog post, Netflix stated:

“We believe bringing more capital to these communities can make a meaningful difference for the people and businesses in them, helping more families buy their first home or save for college, and more small businesses get started or grow. According to the FDIC, banks that are Black-owned or led represent a mere one percent of America’s commercial banking assets. This is one factor contributing to 19 percent of Black families having either negative wealth or no assets at all – more than double the rate of White households – according to the U.S. Federal Reserve. Black banks have been fighting to better their communities for decades but they’re disadvantaged by their lack of access to capital.”

Moving towards equity and social opportunities

Black people need to be represented in and out of the media. There needs to be more than our faces in movies. 

We need representation in the board room.
We need representation in public hearing meetings. 
We need representation in elections and in office. 
We need representation in community development. 

If you are working towards elevating black voices consider scheduling time with Team co:census, to learn more about SMS surveys and automated reporting to uncover the sentiments, conditions, and needs of community members. 

Netflix images used in this blog post are from the Strong Black Lead campaign and are owned by Netflix.

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