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September 16, 2020


Five Hamilton Quotes That Describe My ADCOLOR FUTURES Experience

Written By: Sonya Bessalel, Assistant Account Executive

Last week I attended the 14th annual ADCOLOR Conference, ADCOLOR EVERYWHERE. The virtual conference included panels with industry leaders. It recognized social justice giants, including the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter Movement, Don Lemon, and ColorComm.

I was honored to be among the 30 young professionals recognized as 2020 ADCOLOR FUTURES, a program that trains “the next generation of leaders in the advertising, marketing, media and public relations industries.” The FUTURES program included three days of professional development workshops and a virtual hackathon on racial justice that we presented to 1,300+ conference attendees.

Here is what I took away from the ADCOLOR conference and FUTURES program in five quotes from one of my favorite musicals, Hamilton:

“Who tells your story?”

Stories matter. They win elections, change minds and foster empathy. Whether in advertisements, media or entertainment, the stories we consume become a part of us.

It matters who is behind the camera creating TV shows. It matters who sees themselves represented onscreen. Each of us deserve to see our stories told with nuance, depth and respect. By sharing many stories about LGBTQIA+, Black, Latinx, Asian and Disabled communities, we can foster connections between our communities and remember that no group is a monolith.

“The room where it happens”
It matters who is in the room when decisions are being made. As we reform our industries, we need more Black and Brown voices in the room where it happens. Panelists underscored that even if you don’t see yourself reflected in the highest levels of leadership yet, there are opportunities to continue advancing—and lifting others as you rise.

“Raise a glass to the four of us / Tomorrow there’ll be more of us”

Tiffany R. Warren, Omnicom SVP and Chief Diversity Officer and ADCOLOR Founder and President, said “In places where people feel they are one of two, one of none, only, creating a moment and a movement that brings all of those ‘onlys’ together in a place where they don’t feel so alone has this restorative effect.”

There is power in being surrounded by people who understand your experience and can offer support, mentorship and guidance.

“This is not a moment, it’s the movement”

The tragedies we see on the news are not isolated. This is more than 2020 being an unlucky year. The Black Lives Matter movement is about beginning to address 400+ years of entrenched racism and systemic inequality.

Conference speakers Kimberlé Crenshaw, the critical race theory scholar who coined the term intersectionality and Alicia Garza, one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, said that systemic injustice requires systemic solutions. To address systems of inequality, we must remember that career advancement, progression and opportunities for Black employees and other diverse employees are social justice issues.

“I am not throwing away my shot.”

The mission of the ADCOLOR Conference is to rise up to achieve more in your career, and reach back through mentorship to advocate for diverse voices at every organizational level.

This conference taught me that community is what sustains long-term activism. Learning from leaders who show up fearlessly as their whole selves and fight for what they believe in has given me hope for the future of the media, marketing and tech industries and inspired me to continue giving back by mentoring and using my voice for change.

It’s up to each of us to create change, no matter our identity, title or employer. We can’t afford to throw away our shot.