It’s just dumb.
Oh, fuck it. This calls for Angry Black Man mode.
If you’re wondering how something like this happened, I’ll tell you. Because those lily white, running-to-catch-the Hamptons-Jitney crowd at McCann don’t have one fucking clue about anyone who doesn’t look like them. Sadly, I don’t think really give a fuck.
I mean, it’s 2007 for crissakes! You mean to tell me that no one had an iota of an inkling that this ad was leveraging some tired stereotypes? Such as:
- White guy=in charge manager
- Black guys=physical specimens signifying performance at this beck and call
My wife saw the ad and said, “Looks like a slave ship.”
And, what, there aren’t any white sprinters?
If there was ever an indication that the industry has a diversity
problem, this is it. Any company supposedly committed to diversity
should have a workforce that mirrors to country its work is supposed to
engage. Not because it’s the politically correct thing to do, but
because the marketplace has fragmented into niches that self-organize
around needs, interest, lifestyles, even among one ethnicity. Which
means that agencies like McCann need to have people from these various
constituencies around, because it helps everyone become sensitized to
the multiple meanings that images can carry.
Yeah, it’s 2007. But, in general, white people are ill-equipped to
talk about, let alone deal with, issues of race. And when they do,
they tend to do a piss-poor job of it. So, issues of race come up and
you get two reactions:
- Ignore it/Don’t say anything
Talk about how you really understand racial issues because of all the
so-called diversity in your family. I was in a meeting once where a
one woman said, “My family’s Croatian, Romanian and Greek.” As if that
gave her bona fides. I’m sitting there thinking, “Bitch, nobody sees
anything but a white girl.”
Which brings me to the core issue: White privilege. You muthafuckas
are, for the most part, blissfully unaware of the assumptions you make
about people and situations, particularly those involving race. And
even if you were, I seriously doubt you’d deal with them honestly.
These assumptions certainly play out during the hiring process. I
know, because I’ve been on the receiving end of them.
The growth in the industry will really come when agencies learn how to
better serve this browning country of ours. The first step will be to
learn to recognize tired, 20th century notions.
After all, “Brown is the new White.”