More than one hundred Black D.C. natives say they feel slighted after being excluded from a recent marketing campaign for Washingtonian Magazine purporting to be a “snapshot” of the people living and thriving in the nation’s capital.
The magazine’s social media push didn’t feature any pictures of Black Americans, however. Now, D.C.’s Black residents have taken matters into their own hands, launching a counter-campaign featuring unique photos of their own, WUSA 9 reported.
“We’ve always been very confident, independent, and strong in who we are,” resident Danielle Cotton told the local news station.
Cotton was among the hundreds of African-Americans who gathered for a photo shoot at Union Market on Sunday in direct response to the magazine’s melanin-deficient campaign. According to WAMU, participants dressed in all black and sported black T-shirts with the word “NATIVE” emblazoned on the front. Other photos of the event shared on Instagram showed residents smiling, flashing the peace sign and waving the D.C. flag.
“It was of the utmost importance to us to immediately project a counter image and narrative to the @WashingtonianMag photo campaign,” co-organizer Angel Anderson wrote in a social media post.
Earlier this month, the monthly magazine posted a series of photos for it’s “I Am Not a Tourist” campaign showing D.C. residents sporting t-shirts that read “I’m not a tourist. I live here.”
Little, if any, of the faces featured in the campaign, were Black, which is highly problematic seeing as nearly 50 percent of the city’s residents are African-American. Critics were quick to blast the publication’s poor representation of D.C.’s diversity.
“[Washingtonian Magazine] was concentrating more or white people,” said Nee Nee Taylor, an activist with Black Lives Matter D.C. Resident Tony Lewis, who helped organize Sunday’s event, said he only spotted “one Asian guy” and “one Latino guy” in the posts.
“I was upset. I was hurt,” Lewis told WUSA9. “It was like ‘nah, we’re not standing for that anymore.’ We were not included (in the campaign), so we wanted to show who else lives here.”
Outrage over the campaign prompted the Washingtonian to delete the posts and issue an apology.
“As a native Washingtonian, I am very sorry that our latest ‘I Am Not A Tourist’ marketing campaign did not represent the wonderfully diverse city in which we live,” magazine CEO and president Catherine Merrill Williams said in a statement. “This was the very beginning of a campaign in which all intentions are to include the many communities that make up our city.”
Williams explained that the gallery of photos first shared online were not the entirety of the publication’s marketing campaign, as they only posted the pictures “from a diverse group” of people” in the order they came in.
“We took down the initial post because it created an impression that was inconsistent with our values and standards,” she continued. “We’re confident that when the campaign is complete it will reflect the diversity of the readership that we serve.”
Organizers of the counter-photo shoot said they plan to post the group’s photos to social media in the coming days. According to WUSA 9, the group is also planning another event called “We Are The Natives Social” for this Friday.