In a world where stereotypes and biases persist, it’s essential to reevaluate our perceptions and attitudes towards Black men. This document is inspired by the wisdom of Lucille Bailey “Big Mama” Robinson Allen and aims to teach the value of seeing Black men as sources of power and strength, rather than irrelevant or threatening figures.
I had the opportunity of creating and moderating a NABJ Panel in Birmingham, Alabama using Big Mama’s insights, combined with the experiences of contemporary PR professionals and thought leaders we were able to shed light on the importance of acknowledging and embracing the “elephant in the room.”
Big Mama believed that your views shape your reality. Our panel discussed the perceptions of others can either uplift or hinder their progress. By altering the lens through which we view Black men, we can contribute to a more inclusive and equitable society.
Understanding the history of systemic racism and oppression provides crucial context to the experiences of Black men in society. Despite facing adversity, Black men have shown remarkable strength and resilience. While communicator Kenrick Thomas kicked if off, we all agreed that many Black men have been disenfranchised in the workplace due to systemic biases. However, their resilience and determination have led to remarkable successes, challenging stereotypes and misconceptions.
I told them men on the panel and in the room, “you have to embrace your role as the Elephant in the Room. Being the “elephant in the room” refers to embracing one’s uniqueness and presence, even in spaces where they might be underrepresented. William Kelly implied that Black men can harness this concept as a source of strength, asserting their right to exist and thrive. William Kelly’s perspective as a multimedia journalist highlights the unique challenges Black men face in professions dominated by others.
Atlanta Voice Editor, Donnell Suggs stated, “Recognizing the Elephant in the Room: Black Men in PR” provide a platform for sharing struggles and triumphs, inspiring others to overcome obstacles. Ron Carter and Neil Foote, leaders in the public relations field, offer insights into the challenges and rewards of being Black men in their respective careers. Their dedication and determination set an example for future generations.’ He chimed and also said, “Neil Foote’s assertion that “time is our treasure” underscores the effort required to navigate the challenges of a competitive industry. Black men in PR must be committed to their craft and willing to invest the necessary time to excel.”
Big Mama’s wisdom transcends generations. Her emphasis on self-worth, dignity, and resilience provides a foundation for valuing oneself and others.
Lucille Bailey “Big Mama” Robinson Allen’s teachings remind us that by pivoting our perspectives and acknowledging the strength within Black men, we can contribute to a more inclusive space. By claiming our right to exist and soar, Black men can break free from the confines of microaggressions, unconscious bias and become the powerful Elephants we are destined to be.
Through the insights of modern PR professionals like Ron Carter and Neil Foote, and the inspired words of William Kelly and the panel on “Recognizing the Elephant in the Room,” this column and panel serves as a testament to the resilience and potential of Black men. Just as Big Mama’s wisdom continues to guide me, this panel strived to inspire a new way of perceiving and valuing Black men as agents of Elephant strength and empowerment. Do you agree? Then email me at the paper, firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me all about your Elephant!
Terry Allen is an NABJ award-winning Journalist, DEI expert, PR professional and founder of the charity – Vice President at FocusPR, Founder of City Men Cook and Dallas Chapter President of NBPRS.org