A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words, Especially When It Comes to People of Color

The path to inclusion through representation

If you build it, they will come. But building one of the globe's first-ever Black-owned and -curated stock libraries of images, videos and illustrations of people of color is a heavy lift. Not because it's tough to find melanated photographers to shoot visually arresting images through their personal lens. But because we're literally up against the gun to drive diversity and inclusion through accurate representation. Changing narratives is, sadly, a life-and-death situation in America.

POC like me are becoming bolder about who we are and not allowing anyone who hasn't experienced our stories—or know our culture—to tell them. It's essential that we flood the marketplace with images of POC doing everyday tasks to dispel myths and silence naysayers. It's why a platform like pocstock exists. To simply show POC eating healthy, being fit and active, being successful at business and finances, parenting well, voting, thriving … the same as non-melanated people. Our platform gives amplification to the determination of brown and Black people who are tired of not being accurately seen.

As a photographer by trade, I've made a career out of looking through the lens and portraying people in all their glorious reality—the good, the bad and the ugly. Real life. I've captured everything from smiles and beauty to the struggles in underserved communities. So, I'm keenly aware that when existing stock-photography libraries are searched on certain topics, you don't always get the most relevant results that are diverse, fair and inclusive, and that's a real issue because images hold power and shape perceptions.

Showing POC in ways non-POC haven't seen us before is among the paths forward to display lives that are lived boldly, positively and unapologetically. We're out here engaged in a multitude of experiences from skiing, hiking and surfing to being active as community activists and business leaders in emerging fields including tech and science.

The world has historically worked from the top down. We're betting that working from the bottom up—from the ground up to everywhere consumers live, work and play—will change narratives and drive change. The more our entire world and unique cultures are captured and amplified, the more pocstock will be a part of diversity solutions, providing access to quality, real and relevant content that helps agencies tell authentic stories. Can any responsible company truly afford to not commit to finding solutions that help bridge the gap of diversity, equity and inclusion?

Thankfully, we're making progress. Agencies and clients are learning how to be intentional around diversity and increasingly buying into our growing platform. That's great, as they are the tastemakers behind brand messages. More companies, agencies and publications of all kinds need to make diversity an action word and not just statements in communications broadcasting their support and commitment to being inclusive. Show us by seeing and including us.

Companies have to show their inclusivity, and fortunately there are better ways now to do that. I'm certainly not going to engage with a brand that doesn't represent me. And I'm just one of the 40 percent of POC in America. Seems like a big miss not to reach us where we are and make us fans.

The images in our library are carefully curated. We comb them for potential stereotypes and the negative connotations we are working so hard to fight. Our curation process, in addition to our growing network of diverse contributors, ensures we can help brands better show diverse cultures to drive community. Our photos match our mission, and that's important.

It's no secret that POC, like everyone else, will aspire to join industries, conversations and communities where they see themselves. They will be brand loyal if they see themselves identified. For now, my lens is focused on the basics: POC loving, learning, living, parenting, and other daily experiences. Absolutely everything under the sun. Pushing boundaries to rid the world of stereotypes and take down barriers of entry is the end game.

It's all about representation. And we've got to start by owning ours.

Profile picture for user Tamara Fleming
Tamara Fleming
Tamara Fleming is co-founder and chief content officer of pocstock.

Advertise With Us

Featured Clio Award Winner



The best in creativity delivered to your inbox every morning.