Is the ad industry systematically excluding black women with racist assumptions at Cannes?

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The #AssumeNothing campaign is challenging men who proposition black women on the Croisette (and beyond), Sherry Collins and Antoinette de Lisser tell Little Black Book editor Laura Swinton

Diversity and inclusion might be the fashionable buzzwords in the ad industry right now, but many industry women, particularly black women, are being frozen out of major events like Cannes because after hours they're being propositioned and assumed to be prostitutes by some male delegates.

Sherry Collins, editor and founder of Pitch magazine, found herself on the receiving end of such treatment the first time she attended Cannes Lions, in 2016, to promote her publication. The experience left her questioning herself. 
"It was horrid, the first time it happened. It made me feel as though I was an outsider and I was thought of as such," she says. "I carried on with our conversation as though nothing happened, talking about my mag as much as possible, and even managed to walk away with his business card. I didn't want the experience to ruin my business trip."

Since this experience, Sherry has heard more stories from other black women who have experienced harassment in Cannes and while travelling abroad. This has led Sherry to create a platform to raise awareness and to help women who have been propositioned to feel less ashamed and embarrassed. She coined the hashtag #AssumeNothing before Cannes 2018 and has been using her magazine to help get the message out, as well as speaking to the media.

2 Comments

Holy shit said:

Holy shit

expat said:

It's a real thing, that I've seen with my own eyes on multiple occasions in Cannes (and elsewhere of course, but it's particularly awful on the Croisette).

Colleagues and friends I've been with, who are women of colour, being automatically assumed to not be there for work. Despite being way more accomplished, impeccably dressed, clearly comfortable in their surroundings, the whole package.

It sounds crazy, but the levels of ignorance and racism really are this bad. And if it takes a swift metaphorical kick to the nuts to draw attention to this issue, so be it.

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