As Dittoe PR continues to implement anti-racism practices and educate our organization on the systemic racism that still exists in our country today, employees took the opportunity to listen to ‘1619,’ a podcast produced by The New York Times. ‘1619’ is an audio series on how slavery has transformed America, connecting past and present through the oldest form of storytelling. The six-episode series examines the long shadow of American slavery, focusing on topics such as the foundation of American government and democracy, the economy, music and more.
As part of our ongoing commitment to continued education in anti-racism work, Dittoe PR has made it a priority to present ways that the team can interact and engage with topics they might not encounter on their own. An appointed committee selects different mediums that the team can engage with, then discuss. These include newsletters, articles, podcasts, movies and more. For Q1 2021, the team selected ‘1619’ for a team-wide discussion.
One major takeaway from the team’s discussion is that racism is systemic. Further, when the term “systemic racism” is used, it refers to every system from the ground up, everything that has been built in America since the country’s inception. The team was able to identify parallels between this and the current work they are doing for Dittoe PR’s clients.
For example, the last two episodes of the podcast tell the story of June Provost, a sugarcane farmer in Louisiana who brought to light discrimination that he and his wife experienced in the farming community. Banks blocked their ability to receive loans and neighbors apparently sabotaged their operation by draining vehicles of motor oil and filling fuel lines with water. They also endured years of discrimination in the form of coercive contracts, fraud, below-market crop loans, vandalism and retaliation for speaking out about the mistreatment of Black farmers – until June was finally forced out of business in 2015. This resonated with one team member specifically as her client was working in the agricultural space. She empathized with the Provosts as she listened to yet another story of a system oppressing minorities while benefiting others.
The team also discussed similarities between the work Dittoe PR has done with Katara McCarty and themes of the podcast, which include learning the tools for how to dismantle systems that oppress people of color and benefit white people, as well as personalized actions that can be taken. These included acknowledging and recognizing bias in everyday situations, speaking up instead of staying silent, even if it means leaving your comfort zone, and consuming more media that will amplify BIPOC voices.
As a national PR agency striving to proactively shape narratives that influence behavior and invoke change, our organization is committed to further amplifying BIPOC voices and consistently serving as a reliable and educated ally. For more information on Dittoe PR’s anti-racism efforts, visit our About page.