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Culture

#BlackAtWork: Closing the Dream Gap

#BlackAtWork: Closing the Dream Gap

Pilar McQuirter

Pilar McQuirter

February 27, 2020

Havas Chicago's Pilar McQuirter wants to close the "Dream Gap", a cultural phenomenon which she says reduces career paths for African Americans to cliché and limiting roles.

"Black children may have dreams for their futures, but due to inaccurate and limited representation in the media, those dreams are rewritten with a tired narrative"

This Black History Month, Havas is exploring a topic known as “The Dream Gap”, through the lens of #BlackAtWork, a series of activations established in Chicago and now celebrated in Havas’ Atlanta, New York and Boston Villages. We’ve defined the Dream Gap as a lack of representation that limits dreams to stereotypical jobs and the same old role models for black professionals to aspire to.

The Dream Gap is a byproduct of the systemic inequality that exists in the United States and it is perpetuated by the narrow definition of black success that is portrayed in the media. 

Research conducted by Color of Change (a US-based advocacy organization) in 2017, found that black families represent 59% of the poor in news and opinion media, but make up just 27% of the poor across the United States. In contrast, White families represent just 17% of the poor in news and opinion media, but represent 66% of the poor across the United States.

Often, when black people make the press for their success, stories are limited to those of incredible athletes, entertainers or black pioneers who are the first to accomplish something. It isn’t that we can’t take up those spaces, but those jobs feel unattainable to the majority. 

While preparing for this month’s activations, the #BlackAtWork team recalled a bit from Chris Rock’s 2014 standup “Kill the Messenger”in which the comedian talks about how happy he is to have been able to move into one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country. But, there are only four black people that live in his neighborhood… all of whom are the top entertainers in the world! Meanwhile, his non-black neighbor is a dentist. While it’s difficult to become a dentist, the fact of the matter is, it is a career more attainable than aspiring to be one of the world’s top entertainers. 

This narrow portrayal impacts what the world expects of black people and consequently, what black people expect of themselves. Black children may have dreams for their futures, but due to inaccurate and limited representation in the media, those dreams are rewritten with a tired narrative. Their futures are limited because they can’t envision what they can’t see. 

Entertainers and athletes shouldn’t be the only representation of successful black people for the world to celebrate. Black people deserve legendary icons and everyday leaders. The fact is, there are remarkable black people thriving in a multitude of spaces and places throughout America. The issue is that their stories are rarely told. 

The reality is, imagination is the only thing that stands between who we are today and who we may become. Because you can’t envision what you can’t see. 

To help bridge the Dream Gap and expand the idea of what’s possible, we’ve brought together black pioneers from all corners of the business world who aren’t just surviving at work, but thriving. Through #BlackAtWork, we’re championing their stories of creativity, resilience and success. One person can pave a new path for another person to follow. Our goal as a Group is to expand what is represented in culture in order to change the culture of what’s possible. 

"Black children may have dreams for their futures, but due to inaccurate and limited representation in the media, those dreams are rewritten with a tired narrative"

This Black History Month, Havas is exploring a topic known as “The Dream Gap”, through the lens of #BlackAtWork, a series of activations established in Chicago and now celebrated in Havas’ Atlanta, New York and Boston Villages. We’ve defined the Dream Gap as a lack of representation that limits dreams to stereotypical jobs and the same old role models for black professionals to aspire to.

The Dream Gap is a byproduct of the systemic inequality that exists in the United States and it is perpetuated by the narrow definition of black success that is portrayed in the media. 

Research conducted by Color of Change (a US-based advocacy organization) in 2017, found that black families represent 59% of the poor in news and opinion media, but make up just 27% of the poor across the United States. In contrast, White families represent just 17% of the poor in news and opinion media, but represent 66% of the poor across the United States.

Often, when black people make the press for their success, stories are limited to those of incredible athletes, entertainers or black pioneers who are the first to accomplish something. It isn’t that we can’t take up those spaces, but those jobs feel unattainable to the majority. 

While preparing for this month’s activations, the #BlackAtWork team recalled a bit from Chris Rock’s 2014 standup “Kill the Messenger”in which the comedian talks about how happy he is to have been able to move into one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country. But, there are only four black people that live in his neighborhood… all of whom are the top entertainers in the world! Meanwhile, his non-black neighbor is a dentist. While it’s difficult to become a dentist, the fact of the matter is, it is a career more attainable than aspiring to be one of the world’s top entertainers. 

This narrow portrayal impacts what the world expects of black people and consequently, what black people expect of themselves. Black children may have dreams for their futures, but due to inaccurate and limited representation in the media, those dreams are rewritten with a tired narrative. Their futures are limited because they can’t envision what they can’t see. 

Entertainers and athletes shouldn’t be the only representation of successful black people for the world to celebrate. Black people deserve legendary icons and everyday leaders. The fact is, there are remarkable black people thriving in a multitude of spaces and places throughout America. The issue is that their stories are rarely told. 

The reality is, imagination is the only thing that stands between who we are today and who we may become. Because you can’t envision what you can’t see. 

To help bridge the Dream Gap and expand the idea of what’s possible, we’ve brought together black pioneers from all corners of the business world who aren’t just surviving at work, but thriving. Through #BlackAtWork, we’re championing their stories of creativity, resilience and success. One person can pave a new path for another person to follow. Our goal as a Group is to expand what is represented in culture in order to change the culture of what’s possible. 

Pilar is a creative strategist, who designs equitable and inclusive programming for diverse audiences with a culture first-approach.

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