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Communication Studies


Issues of race and representation have gained significant consideration in relation to the creative industries and the structures of power within them. This study examines barriers to entry for racial minority creative workers in the Canadian advertising industry. As racial minorities attempt to enter an atmosphere entrenched in white privilege and power, they are met with an interconnected web of struggles that restrict them from entering spaces of influence in advertising. Drawing on concepts of cultural gatekeeping, racial valuation, shallow diversity, and self-monitoring, data from thirteen qualitative interviews have been analyzed through a narrative approach. Influenced by aspects of critical race theory, the lived experiences of participants inform this analysis and provide a new perspective on the preestablished structures of racial inequity. The findings of this study indicate that racial minority workers face an exponentially different experience than their white counterparts throughout their careers. They are forced to appease their white leadership and configure to the demands of the industry that are rooted within white ideals. The performativity of diversity additionally pushes minorities to be extremely cautious of their behaviour and demonstrate greater professional performance than their white counterparts. Due to racial perceptions of majority groups, people of colour must engage in the identity work of code-switching to assemble a balanced character of colour and whiteness. Ultimately, the systemic organizations of power are reproduced through inequitable practices that regulate the progression of racial minority workers in the Canadian advertising industry. This assists in sustaining the ideologies, values, and culture of majority groups within the advertising industry and the cultural products they produce.

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