Friday, August 10, 2007

Post Titled: Blackface

Soo, I am in an American Business-related Yahoo Group and this (first message) gets posted and causes outrage all around, images to which it refers are insterted throughout, and -I mean, in a way I see the intention- but it is kinda fucked up:

"This is an actual ad-campaign by UNICEF Germany!
This campaign is "blackfacing" white children with mud to pose as
"uneducated africans".
The headline translates "This Ad-campaign developped pro bono by the
agency Jung von Matt/Alster shows four german kids who appeal for
solidarity with their contemporaries in Afrika"
The first kid says:
"I'm waiting for my last day in school, the children in africa still
for their first one."

second kid:
"in africa, many kids would be glad to worry about school"
third kid:
"in africa, kids don't come to school late, but not at all" (!)
fourth kid:
"some teachers suck. no teachers sucks even more."
Besides claiming that every single person in "Africa" isn't educated,
and doing so in an extremely patronising way, it is also disturbing
that this organisation thinks blackfacing kids with mud (!) equals
"relating to african children". Also, the kids' statements ignore the
existence of millions of african academics and regular people and one
again reduces a whole continent to a village of muddy uneducated
uncivilized people who need to be educated (probably by any random
westerner). This a really sad regression.
Bottom lines of this campaign are: Black = mud = African = uneducated.
White = educated. We feel this campaign might do just as much harm as
it does any good. You don't collect money for helping people by
humiliating and trivializing them first.
Unfortunately, if it was clear to the average German that this is
wrong, UNICEF and the advertising agency wouldn't come out with such a
Please write your opinion and help make clear and explain why it is
wrong to use "blackface with mud", and write to UNICEF at as well as the advertising agency at with a copy to Black German media-watch-orgaiztion what you feel about this campaign and why. Please
include a line that you're going to publish your mail and the response.
by the way, the slogan of the advertising agency who came up with
this, reads "we communicate on eye-level".


Noah "


"The ad is in appallingly bad taste and does lead to a negative
stereotype that does more harm than good. It's kinda like those "inner
city" stereotypes, glossily painting everyone who lives within the
city limits as poor, black, uneducated and criminals. This mindset
contributes more to the "us versus them" social and racial divide
prevalent in this country than to generate any sympathy for people in
need of support and services.

This should be yet another case study for the need of diversity within
the field of advertising/public relations. There is no way anything
other than a room full of white Europeans could come up with this ad
-- AND think that it was a good idea."

"While in Barcelona last fall, I bought a bag of chocolate-covered
peanuts, not because I was hungry, but because the figure on the front
of the bag staring back at me with a mile-wide smile and a thumbs-up
was nothing less than a cartoon baby in blackface. I could not
*believe* what I was seeing, but when I later showed it to my fellow
travellers - a Finn, an Aussie, and even a Canadian - no one understood
what the big deal was. I mean, they didn't even flinch. As soon as I
got back to my school and showed the bag to my American roommates
though, their jaws dropped just like mine had.

The point of my little anecdote? That I have found firsthand just how
hyper-sensitive we Americans can be when it comes to racial images.
It's completely understandable given our nation's history - but I do
think we're unique in that sense. Others around the world have an
entirely differently viewpoint on what is right or wrong in this arena.
And that's where ad campaigns like this come from. We gasp, the "white
europeans" think they've had a brilliant idea and trot off to celebrate
at the discothek.

To be crystal clear, I'm not saying I support the ads, (or have
anything against the discothek), I just thought I'd weigh in on why I
personally am not surprised to see something like this come out of
western Europe."

"Personally I find the ad appalling but it is also an ad designed for a
totally different culture than we have here in the US. I think
Americans in general would be shocked at the number of these kinds of
ads and mindsets that are commonplace in other countries.

So while we can debate it, we were never intended to be the target
consumer audience of the ad."


"So, keep in mind that Europeans do not undergo the same types of sensitity training and PC indoctrination that Americans do. Our knee-jerk reactions on how we should feel about blackface are not theirs. Not to mention that most places in Europe just simply lack the types of ethnic diversity that is found the the US, so racial sensitivity is somewhat of a non-issue, and therefore many views that Europeans may have are what we, with our American PC values, would label blatantly "racist"...
Furthermore, Americans have their African slave and Native American burdens of guilt and Germans have their Jewish guilt burdens- so it is a different focus, different touchy subjects.

I find Americans to be "Hyper sensitive" as you put it and simultaneously hyper-insensitive, particularly in their comedy-
there are many things that simply blow the European mind which are commonplace in American comedy.
So, there, after many years in Europe, that is my in-a-nutshell analysis."
UHH, Colbert = Proof:

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Anonymous Preyanka said...

These ads, at least, are conscious of the emotion they're trying to evoke. Racist images on packaging bother me because they presuppose a culture that, like you say, hasn't been made racism-aware (as much as we have). It's blatant in India, where dark-skinned girls are portrayed as being unable to get the guy or the job until they use such and such fairness cream, which miraculously solves all of their problems. And, the last time I was there, Darkie toothpaste was still being sold on store shelves in Bangkok.

6:32 am  

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