PHOENIX (AP) – Keisha Galli was once kicked out of a Facebook group for mothers with autistic children after a controversial debate she believed was racial. Time and time again, she encountered white-dominated groups who sought support as a young mother.
So Galli, an Afro-Latina, started her parent blog and social media accounts. Now it is a source of income for her.
In the multibillion dollar world of falling asleep guides, toddler activity ideas, breastfeeding tips and everything else related to parenting, traditionally white culture has dominated. White faces predominate on the jackets of parenting books. The so-called influencers that brands choose to advertise their products, until recently, were also mostly white.
This has left a hole for women of color – especially new mums – who struggle to find culturally relevant advice and products for parents.
Increasingly, they are taking matters into their own hands.
“If I can’t find it, then we have to start creating it for ourselves. I knew I couldn’t be the only person with these questions, ”said Gally, who lives in Phoenix.
When she found out that her first child was autistic, Galli dived deeply into research, looking for any resources that could help her family. And although there was a lot of information, there were small, but important questions that many experts could not answer.
How, for example, could she brush her son’s thick hair without causing him sensory problems? Which sunscreen is suitable for dark skin without leaving white marks?
It was a frustrating time for her, culminating in a Facebook group when she felt several white women were being dismissive and rude to a black mom who was looking for advice on how to talk to her family about her child’s autism diagnosis. Women didn’t realize that in some communities of color, older generations may fear autism and tend to think that the problems boil down to behavior and discipline. Galli defended his mother and was kicked out of the group.
Soon after, she expanded her social media presence and now makes a living doing it, now earning more than 15 years as a flight attendant, she said.
For Stacey Ferguson, the need for a variety of parenting voices has been paramount for years. She struggled to find online forums and communities that matched her experience as a black mother.
Ferguson, a lawyer by training and now a business owner, founded Blogalicious 12 years ago, an organization and annual conference that helped women of color monetize and grow their blogs.
The first Blogalicious conference drew 177 people; by the time Ferguson decided to close them in 2017, 500 people were coming in every year.
“The room really felt like magic. And what really surprised us was that many brands were really interested in coming and getting to know our community, ”Ferguson said.
Over the years, blogger moms have evolved into Instagram influencers. Carefully selected images accompany messages with tips on how to put your baby to bed or teach him how to eat himself. Often, influencers advertise products that they say might be beneficial to moms.
The trend originated mainly from white women and the brands that were looking for them. Ferguson says the situation is much more diverse now, with brands targeting different parents more purposefully.
But the problem persisted. Marketing budgets for multicultural purposes are much more limited than for general advertising, Ferguson said. Traditionally, white women were paid to sell to the general public. This means that a white mom could make a lot more money marketing to audiences of all nationalities and races than a woman who is marketing to, say, Latin moms.
“This is still an archaic view of marketing,” Ferguson said. “Brands and agencies that understand (the need to diversify) are making progress. The problem is that there are still so many of them left. ”
There is no consensus on how much brands and companies spend on advertising or sponsorship through their influencers, but several marketing experts have said they are in the billions each year.
“Brands are just now catching up to the Latin American and black markets,” said Larry Chiaguris, professor of marketing at the Lubin School of Business at Pace University.
Chiaguris said the world of parents influencing parents is dominated by white women because they were in the majority in the past, but he increasingly sees Hispanic, Black and Asian American women joining the space.
“It’s like a chicken and an egg. Marketers want to spend money on Latino influencers, but you have to find them. There are not as many of them as you think, ”said Chiaguris.
Jacqueline Hernandez Lewis of Long Island, NY, started blogging nine years ago as a law student and wife of a military seeking community.
After becoming a mom, Hernandez Lewis, 33, wanted to find a place where Hispanics and other colored moms felt empowered. When she returned to work after her first child, she struggled to adapt and wanted to find a way to spend more time at home while continuing to generate income. Now she has three babies.
Hernandez Lewis earned $ 25 for her first sponsored post. She now earns between $ 700 and $ 3,000 per post, working full time.
Her most recent Instagram posts include an advertisement for a Spanish-language book series being republished by Disney Books; for a popular brand of baby wipes; and for Poise, who makes pads that postpartum women can use.
It is important for Hernandez Lewis that women of color have an online community and are represented, but it is equally important that they reap the rewards of their purchasing power.
“We deserve to be represented in business. There are brands that were not as inclusive as I hoped, but many brands are changing and becoming more inclusive, ”said Hernandez Lewis.
Galvan highlights issues regarding Hispanics in the US for the AP AP team by race and ethnicity. Follow her on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/astridgalvan