Kendra Hatcher King
VP, Marketing Engagement, SapientRazorfish
Kendra King, VP of Marketing Engagement for SapientRazorfish, has been integral to the success of several key initiatives aimed at tackling damaging stereotypes of African-Americans in the media. Kendra has made it her mission to raise awareness on this issue and has worked to inspire others to take a stand against harmful representations of people of color.
After the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, Kendra was struck by the pervasiveness of violent images of the Ferguson riots and lack of coverage of peaceful demonstrations. Then, on a business trip to China, she participated in a focus group about African-Americans and was dismayed by how the group seemed to think largely in stereotypes, so Kendra took it upon herself to do something about it.
She teamed up with AAF’s Connie Frazier to bring awareness to the issue, starting with reality TV, one of the biggest perpetrators of negative portrayals of African-American women. They hosted watch parties featuring clips from popular reality TV shows on college campuses and in the offices of ad agencies in 10 cities, reaching 400+ attendees. This was followed by discussions about race, power, and the role they play in eliciting a response—typically a negative one—from viewers.
This led to a white paper co-authored by Kendra, “Reality TV: Entertaining, But No Laughing Matter”.
The study found that that black women were largely portrayed in stereotypical fashion and that these images actually influenced how people viewed black women in the workplace and social settings. This study opened the industry’s eyes to the damaging impact the media can have on women of color and was the focal point of an AdAge article from September 2017.
This year, Kendra partnered with AAF, University of Missouri and the sorority, Zeta Phi Beta to lead the development of a media research initiative that quantified the impact of media images on African-American women. The study and its findings, “From Bad Girls to Housewives: Portrayals of African American Women in the Media” were released during the 47th annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C. and during Advertising Week.
The purpose of the project is to use the data to brief the advertising and entertainment industry on the findings and brainstorm solutions for changing perceptions of people of color via advertisers who have the power to influence what agencies and clients produce. The research also inspired a media literacy program, and Kendra is currently working on developing a strategic framework for the program based in education and training to help it grow in 2018 and beyond.
The first step toward solving a problem is bringing it to light. By starting a dialogue among marketing professionals, TV viewers, educators, and the media, Kendra has helped start a movement. Although media portrayals of African- Americans won’t change overnight, people’s perceptions have already begun to shift thanks to this research, which has led to more open discussion and realistic, honest images of people of color.
Recipient, 2018 Mosaic Media Image Award for Advocacy
Moderator, 2017 Changing the Narrative Panel Discussions
Moderator, ADMERICA 2017, Learning Lab:
Make Some Room: An Experiential Approach to Unconscious Bias
Last Updated: March 2018