What do Black Lives Matter and opioid addiction have to do with each other?  On the surface, nothing.  But dig a little deeper and they are, or will be, connected in a way we are just beginning to understand.  And when I say “we” I mean Amélie, our agency team, as we begin our quest to find equity in a three-year-old campaign we created called “Lift the Label”.  

I am a white woman who has lived a pretty comfortable life and can’t begin to understand the depths of oppression and injustice inflicted upon the black community. I may not know the right words to use, I may offend without intention, but I have decided, as we are all beginning to realize, that to say nothing is the worst offense. 

So, shame on us for not thinking about it sooner, or even recognizing the absence of it in the first place, but at our client’s urging late last year, we started down the road to equity.

For this specific project, the mission for equity extends much further, including the LGBTQIA+ and LatinX communities. But to understand our search for equity, it is important to know that the Lift the Label campaign was created with intention, stemming from prescription drug addiction, which at the time was considered a “white person problem.”  

Was. That is no longer the case—addiction, regardless of how it finds you, is a disease that knows no bounds, no race, no sexual orientation. It does not discriminate.  

We are just starting to peel back the layers in our project. We have hired a research partner that is not only qualified for the task, but also able to represent and understand the exact inequity that we are looking to uncover and course correct. In fact, while many studies have shown certain substance abuse in Black Americans is either the same or even less than other groups, there are upward trends (for all groups) increasing at an alarming rate.  Finding equity for our campaign means nipping this in the bud while also addressing the whole problem.  

I am proud

  • To spend my days in meetings trying to figure out the best way to help someone in despair find the help they need—a road to recovery
  • To have clients who recognize that change is needed   
  • To work on a campaign and at an agency that has the guts to say, “we need help” and “we can do better”

So what do BLM and opioid addiction have to do with each other?  Everything. Because we’re trying to take a step in the right direction. One tiny step starting with realizing what we don’t know, what we don’t understand and educating ourselves. Walk with us. 

Christine Cowan
Managing Director, Account Services