Stop Stealing the Authenticity
Here’s my first message to Pepsi and this goes to my fellow educators as well. Stop trying to appropriate and steal people’s authenticity. Whether that authentic mentality is related to struggle, culture, social lives or any other sentiment, do remember it does not belong to you.

The Dean improperly dabbin or hittin them folks is not the wave. The VP saying that the club meeting is on fleek just does not work. Pepsi using protest to sell soda fits right into that realm. One of the things I pride myself in understanding, is the pulse of the students. In addition to that, I will never be someone I am not for the sake of seeming cool or riding the newest fad. It’s one thing recognize what’s in style or what’s trending. It’s another thing to try jump on the ship without any major connection or context.
It is particularly offensive, to take moments that were birthed out of struggle and injustice and turn it into a fun advertisement. Adding faux authenticity to the room is for sucka mc’s too. If you use some black dancers, and a hijabi with no real context, you’re doing everyone a disservice.

Who is in the Room?
I just can’t understand how this commercial made it to air. Who were the people who produced this, edited this then green light it? We have to be very cognizant of who is in the room when it comes to decision making. Students don’t need to be in every meeting but their needs and voices should always be present. If a student is not in that room, then an administrator or faculty member who understands their interests better be there. Decisions about things ranging from programming to changes in class schedules happen all the time without any student input. I’ve overheard conversations in which high level decision makers are trying to figure out if the students would prefer to see Hoda Kotb or Trevor Noah. Most in the room chose Hoda. (You catch my drift?) We work for the students. Of course we have the knowledge and experience to know what processes are effective or not. We must alsobe very clear in making sure that the voices that matter most are present and visible.

Who are our voices?
The Kardashian/ Jenner movement has been supported by many people of all colors and cultures. Pepsi saw Kendall Jenner’s platform jumped right atop that bad boy. We can upset but understand the she is a major voice that reaches millions.  What we have to do, is transfer the energy of leadership towards those with a more potent message. As educators it is imperative that one finds the students who are the voices of the campus and then teach them effective leadership. A balance is necessary. Relying on students who already want to be student leaders is simply not enough. Find your change agents and show them how important they can be with a few additional skills and lessons. We can impact the world when influencers become more educated on the process of leadership or cultural competency. Time for you to push to make that happen.

Nice try, Pepsi.  My educators out there, don’t be Pepsi

**Update** Pepsi had pulled the ad

IMG_4902MrJeffDess is a writer, professor, public speaker and emcee of Haitian descent. He is an author of 5 books of poetry, including his latest, Trill Motivation With over ten years of performing and student affairs experience under his belt MrJeffDess continues to strive towards helping students reach their highest potential. For booking information, contact MrJeffDess at