I was having a conversation with a friend recently about how the lockdown caused by this year’s COVID-19 pandemic has changed so many lives. The extended time in isolation has given many of us more than enough time to think about the future. For many, established life plans have been derailed. For others, the time at home has made space for personal projects. I’m a part of the latter group. This blog has been in the works for the past year and it has always been my goal to combine my love for photography and good conversation.
So here I am, 6 months into this pandemic, launching what I call “Portraits & Conversation”, a series of interviews with new and old friends accompanied with portraits. We’ll discuss race, representation, diversity and inclusion in various arts and communications spaces. I’ve always said, I don’t have the answers but my goal is to get a few so we can all learn together.
With that said, I thought it would be fitting to feature my friend Bunmi Adeoye as my first guest. She is the recently appointed Senior Vice-President of the Consumer practice at Proof Strategies. She is also a co-founding member of Code Black Communication Network, which connects Black communication professionals across Canada with online and in-person events. This group has been pivotal in helping me strengthen my voice and gain confidence in my career. If you’re BIPOC, you can relate to some of the self-doubt that comes with being the “only one” in the room. We often settle into that feeling, accepting that it’s a normal part of being a BIPOC professional. However, there is something special about knowing there are others like you, who have similar experiences. Code Black as we call it, has given me that.
We completed the photos on a rainy day in July. Bunmi was a great sport. When I told her the forecast, she said she’d be there rain or shine. We had previously talked about our new found urge to get our projects out and her refusal to cancel was her way of enabling me to stay on course. It turns out the rain was just what I needed, adding a textural element you just can’t fake in post.
Our interview was also recorded in July, before her new title was announced. Bunmi and I spoke about Code Black and its role in connecting Black comms professionals in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, social media activism, and the need for grace as we navigate through these times. We also talked about our cautious optimism for the increased attention given to the Black Lives Matter movement. What we didn’t know then, is that just a few weeks later, yet another video of a Black person being unjustifiably shot by the police would be released. This time it was Jacob Blake, a 29 year-old man from Wisconsin who was shot 7 times in the back. They speculate that the altercation will leave him paralyzed.
Despite the serious conversation, it was a fun interview. I was a bit nervous, overly excited and a little uncertain about how to start an interview, but I did it anyway. And that energized me to do more. Hopefully you will come to appreciate Bunmi Adeoye as much as I do!