In May 2021, Penguin Random House launched a new marketing effort under the hashtag #AllWaysBlack. Operating on both Instagram (@AllWaysBlack) and through the PRH website, the goal of #AllWaysBlack was to celebrate Black history. PRH enlisted Cree Myles, a prominent influencer, to curate and operate the channel.

“Something like this has never been done before,” Myles said. “We’re walking into uncharted territories, but what holds us together is the community that wants us to succeed and values grace so much.”

Over 26.3K followers and nearly a year later, the channel has produced a positive space to celebrate Black books and culture. Having learned so much since the effort's initial launch, PRH went back to their original proof-of-concept and made the decision to expand in a number of ways.

“We’re expanding the channel into a full-scale platform,” explained Anthony Key, head of multicultural marketing at Penguin Random House. “Last year it was really more of an action versus a mission, but now we we’re looking to align with a mission and of being platform forward.”

Signaling the beginning of #AllWaysBlack 2.0, a “cypher video” was produced highlighting the kind of collaborations and cultural talent that will be included in the channel's mission. Myles is featured as a DJ alongside indie rappers Genesis, Klassik, and Marli Amour. Myles drops a few bars for good measure too. “We’re making sure everything we do from a programming perspective or partnership is rooted in consumer insights,” Key added. “The insights align with a few key passions: music, fashion, and sports.”

Unifying the 2.0 mission are two themes for 2022: #BlackLove and #BlackExcellence. During the initial rollout of #AllWaysBlack, Myles and Key said, engagement was highest when representation was most positive.

“Black people are not a monolith,” Myles said. “We don’t always have to think in terms of the oppressive historical context that we came from.” Key added: “We want to center on those joyous moments.”

#AllWaysBlack advocates for free expression and the discoverability of books. At a time when book bans are on the uptick, social media can be a place where the conversation surrounding books, particularly those under subject of censorship, can be discussed.

“A key mission of #AllWaysBlack is to generate discoverability,” Key said. And Myles was quick to explain how censorship has been an ongoing issue. “Reading isn’t something you do on your downtime. There is endless spectrum of identities and beliefs and hopes. We want to hold space for all of it.”

The platform’s forward thinking includes a new All Ways Black Hub featuring over 200 titles. Though they are still in conversation with potential partnerships, both Afropunk and Black Love have joined the campaign.

“Reading is essential to who you are as a human,” says Myles. “It’s an emergency at this point.”