Make It Black
Pull Up For Change’s ‘Make It BLACK’ Campaign Is Redefining What It Means To Be Black And Funding Black Founders Along The Way

Pull Up For Change’s ‘Make It BLACK’ Campaign Is Redefining What It Means To Be Black And Funding Black Founders Along The Way

When America’s racial awakening first took shape last summer, in the wake of George Floyd’s death, brands of all sizes, ages, and backgrounds pledged their support for the Black community and in many cases, announced new initiatives and donations to turn their words into action. But as nice as it was to see the corporate world finally taking a stand, Sharon Chuter, the founder and CEO of UOMA Beauty, thought that change needed to happen from the inside out. It was with this in mind that she launched Pull Up For Change and #PullUpOrShutUp, a social media campaign that challenged companies to release the total number of Black employees at their companies and to identify the levels at which those employees sit. The movement gained traction immediately, and over the last eight months, it’s led thousands of brands to acknowledge and address their internal shortcomings; however, it’s also shone a light on another issue.

“After doing Pull Up, there was one thing that really jumped out at me,” Chuter recalls. “When I started preparing data to report for the second time, I noticed this phenomenon where the Black employees at these brands didn’t want to be identified as Black.” Instead, they wanted to be identified as African-American, Afro-Caribbean, or African. “It was just dancing around the subject of Black, and I was shook,” the founder says. “This is something that, if I’m honest, has been bothering me for years in terms of language, and for a while now, I’ve been obsessed with racial linguistics, as it’s called, and the impact of language on race because that’s really what shapes our minds.” Chuter knew there wasn’t enough awareness around language’s relationship to race, and after thinking about it for so many years, she decided it was finally time to take action.

“A lot of the issues that Black people face at work are not a result of conscious bias but are a result of unconscious bias, and unconscious bias is driven by systemic racism,” she explains. “And the only way to offset unconscious bias is to do the opposite and to make a conscious effort to counter it.” For Chuter, that meant completely redefining what it means to be Black, and in order to do that, she dreamt up Pull Up For Change’s next big campaign, Make It BLACK.

“For much of history, we were told it was bad to be Black, so we ran away from it,” the founder says. “There have been some huge improvements, like the capitalization of ‘Black,’ but it is taking some time, and that’s why we have to have this conversation so broadly and openly. This is a goal that goes beyond Black people and really speaks to all of society about how we use the word Black.”

Make It BLACK aims to shift perceptions around what it means to be Black by rejecting the notion that Black is wrong or toxic and instead celebrating the beauty of Blackness.