Pepsi makes ONE cola; doesn’t believe in one society

07_Pepsi_ONE_Family_v2Pepsi has announced a new online community targeting African-American moms as a way to help that demographic inspire each other with their stories. It’s interesting to me that a company that makes a product called ONE is now trying to continue the troubling history in this country of separating people by race.

I had high hopes that social media, finally, would be one vehicle that would help us smash through the barriers erected by differences in the color of our skin and help us realize that we are all part of one race: the human race.

But now, marketers at Pepsi have decided that African-American moms are underrepresented and need a place to have their voices heard. Too bad their voices won’t be heard by anyone other than people exactly like them.

I’m a white dad, so obviously I can’t speak for black moms everywhere. I just wish marketing people at companies like Pepsi would realize they can’t either. First of all, who  asked them to? Who says black women can’t get on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and all the other outlets to have their voices heard? Who says they need a special place just to call their own — and that they can’t create one via Ning? Who says that black women aren’t smart enough to see right through this marketing trap? Who says we need to turn the Internet into a microcosm of real life, with its inherent racism and the segregation that results from it?

Just last month, we saw the passing of the 46th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I can’t help but wonder how inspirational and amazing he would find the technology of today and how it has transformed our abilities to see past race and look only at a person for what they are contributing to the conversation.

Martin_Luther_King_-_March_on_WashingtonHis infamous exclamations certainly ring true when you look at a social media outlet like Twitter, which helps meld us into a community that is not based on race, religion or nationality.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

“Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

I recently had a colleague who is just getting into social media make the following comment, and it punctuates what I’m trying to say in this post:

I find it fascinating that social media is generating social activity that did not exist before and bringing together people that otherwise would not have connected. Way fun.

It’s too bad major American brands like Pepsi can’t see the potential for social media to bring us together instead of another avenue to keep us apart.