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Discussing the commercialization of Black History Month

Jessica Lewis on "Connections"
Megan Mack
Jessica Lewis on "Connections with Evan Dawson" on Friday, February 17, 2023

When you think of Black History Month, what comes to mind? As our guests share this hour, they hope it isn’t branded products and marketing ploys. In recent years, the commercialization of the month honoring Black history and achievements has led to backlash. Critics say not much has changed since public policy attorney Malaika Jabali wrote for the Guardian in 2021, “Instead of providing a platform to explore the rich history of Black people in America, this month has been a billboard for commodified representations of Blackness.” How can companies and brands celebrate Black history in a culturally-appropriate way, while also uplifting Black-owned businesses?

Our guests explore that question and more:

  • Jessica Lewis, president and CEO of LáLew Public Relations
  • Jason P. Chambers, Ph.D., associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion; and associate professor of advertising in the College of Media at the University of Illinois
  • Collette Watson, vice president of cultural strategy for Free Press, and project director of Media 2070
  • Rashad Smith, publicist and media consultant
Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.