Saturday, July 30, 2005

Essay Ninety-Three

Second thoughts with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Now the Little League umpire who ordered Hispanic players to stop speaking Spanish during a game has been silenced. League officials barred him from working more games in the current state tournament. Hasta la vista, ump. Enjoy your 15 minutes of infamy.

• Don’t mess with Charlie’s Angels. Cameron Diaz has been awarded a substantial-albeit-undisclosed amount of loot from a tabloid that ran a false story about her. Now she’s going after another scandal sheet that ran a similar fib. Diaz was also victorious in her court battle with a photographer trying to sell topless photos of the starlet. Talk about jury box office success.

• The Buckeye State has gone buck wild again. Two teens in Fairfield, Ohio were arrested for burning 20 U.S. flags that were commemorating a soldier who died from injuries sustained in Iraq. The delinquents allegedly did not know the significance of the flags, but they did manage to ignite them under the car of the soldier’s sister-in-law, destroying it too. Remember, Ohio’s motto is, “With God, all things are possible.” Crazy things included.

• The July 25, 2005 issue of Advertising Age featured a Special Report commemorating McDonald’s 50th anniversary. In the report, McDonald’s marketing veteran Roy Bergold presented four decisions made during his tour of duty that he’d like to change. Among the things Bergold would do over: “One national agency responsible for everything, including ethnic and promotion. They can use any resources they wish, but this one agency has total accountability for all marketing programs.” Mergers may make Bergold’s pipe dream a reality someday, although the politics involved would be monumental and grotesque. Given McDonald’s current marketing chaos — with multiple shops creating fragmented messages whose only commonalities are mediocrity and awfulness — it’s no wonder Bergold bailed out.

• Also noteworthy in the Special Report mentioned above: McDonald’s ethnic shops were conspicuously negligent in presenting a tribute ad — Leo Burnett, DDB, Frankel/Arc, The Marketing Store and even Turner Entertainment delivered kudos. Whassup with that?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Essay Ninety-Two

Late-breaking business, sports and entertainment news with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Morgan Stanley announced plans to lay off 1,000 of its lowest-producing brokers from a workforce of 10,200 — One employee at a time (if they want to play off the company’s advertising slogan).

• A new survey by the Census Bureau showed U.S. minority businesses rose 31 percent from 1997 to 2002. Pretty confident the figure runs counter to Black progress in the advertising industry.

• T-ball coach Mark R. Downs Jr. will stand trial for allegedly offering a player $25 to injure a mentally-disabled teammate (See Essay Seventy-Five for more details). Downs’ motive, according to the victim’s mother, was to prevent the boy from participating because he wasn’t as good as the other players. In an earlier incident, Downs pitched another $25 reward to “anybody who can line drive the ref with the ball” after a confrontation with an umpire. Downs’ inevitable sentence should include getting bitch-slapped by Texas Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers.

• In another bush league incident, a Little League umpire ordered Hispanic players and coaches to stop speaking Spanish during a game. There are no official rules to prohibit players from communicating in any language, and a Little League spokesman admitted the umpire was wrong. “It appears the umpire was concerned that the coach or manager may have been using a language other than English ... to communicate potentially ‘illegal’ instructions to his players,” stated the spokesman. Great. Let’s presume the Hispanics were doing something illegal. Sadly, the event did prepare minority players for the discrimination they can expect in the game of baseball and beyond.

• Put this TV show on the permanent DL — Weekends at the DL, starring D.L. Hughley. The program debuted on Comedy Central. Although Hughley has enough Hollywood pals to assemble decent guest lists, it all still felt like a poor brother man’s Arsenio Hall Show. The skits were pure UPN/WB material. And the mass interviews were really clumsy — whose brainstorm was it to choreograph a couch conversation with Regina King, Morgan Spurlock and Joe Lockhart? Hey, it’s just like Chappelle’s Show. Except without the edginess, entertainment value and comedy.

Essay Ninety-One

Let’s end the week contemplating a controversy originally reported at the beginning of the week regarding the upcoming Advertising Week to be held the last week in September.

The incident was ignited by a print ad that ran in the July 18, 2005 edition of Advertising Age. The ad promoted the annual extravaganza with cleavage bursting from a bustier and a headline announcing, “Advertising: we all do it.” The sexual angle was furthered with copy reading, “Come listen. Come learn. Come celebrate.” The hackneyed morons behind the concept are presumably coming in their boxers right now, anticipating Gold Lions. They deserve golden showers.

Of course, the ad drew outrage from women in the business — and an apparent shrug from 4As President-CEO O. Burtch Drake.

Executive Director at Advertising Women of New York Liz Schroeder wondered, “What does it tell you about Advertising Week? Is the event a strip show?” Schroeder should be asking what it tells about the advertising industry. The answer is both obvious and disturbing.

Once again, our leaders have demonstrated thorough insensitivity and clueless disregard for anyone who isn’t a White male. Now before everyone accuses MultiCultClassics of seeing biased behavior in everything, please review the facts.

For starters, the print ad was approved by a group of White men (most of whom are semi-elderly to boot): Drake, Euro RSCG CEO Ron Berger, DDB Worldwide President-CEO Ken Kaess and Executive Director of Advertising Week Matt Scheckner. Sooner than later, count on these gentlemen to make attempts at self-deprecating humor. They shouldn’t be allowed to get off so easy — pun intended.

Scheckner insisted, “The campaign overall achieves our goal. We are happy.” No doubt. Scheckner probably pored over selects prior to blessing the final titty picture. Or if the image was shot, he most likely requested a front row seat in the photographer’s studio. Plus, somebody needs to probe Scheckner on the goal he claimed was achieved — preferably with a rectal exam scope.

Drake outdid Scheckner with his own asinine explanation. According to the subsequent Advertising Age story, Drake contended the ad targeted a very sophisticated audience that would react to it differently than regular folks. Spare us the elitist hype, Professor Drake. Communicating to sophisticated people with sophomoric bullshit is lame.

Drake showed a lot less class when stating, “All advertising is subjective… I don’t think it’s that big a deal.” Technically, it’s not that big a deal only when considering the depicted breasts don’t appear to be surgically enhanced. But it should be significant for a person of Drake’s alleged stature. It’s no wonder the 4As has completely failed to make any visible progress in its diversity efforts too.

Women weren’t the sole critics in this scenario. One anonymous male executive admitted, “This is exactly the kind of stuff the ad industry should be trying to get away from. The old guys at the golf club.” The person who delivered the quote should be awarded Drake’s title effective immediately.

Drake closed by commenting, “…If there’s any blame, place it squarely with me.” Well, that’s mighty White of you, O. Taking responsibility when envisioning no negative consequences is the clichéd tactic of a stereotypical adman.

Why are the “Aw, shucks!” and eye-rolling responses — which display a consistent apathy and pattern of offense from authority figures — always tolerated by the rest of us?

At some point, we need to demand new and improved standards. Perhaps it must start with new and improved leadership.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Essay Ninety

Across the nation and around the world with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• A Utah woman has won the right to a vanity license plate reading GAYSROK (may translate to “gays are ok” or “gays rock”), thanks to a judge’s ruling. Not sure why this even went to court. No word yet on pending cases for DYKESRULE or ILUVANAL.

• Oklahoman and American Idol champion Carrie Underwood was voted the World’s Sexiest Vegetarian in a poll conducted by PETA. Yet Underwood did put aside her healthy eating stance to appear in a TV commercial where she literally sings the praises of KitKat bars while sporting t-shirts with various candy bar logos. Gimme a break.

• The Chicago City Council approved a deal to work with Morgan Stanley and LaSalle Bank, despite Ald. Dorothy Tillman’s contention the two financial institutions should be barred because of their alleged past ties to slavery. The ultimate council debate included a White member quoting from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., telling the committee, “His dream was that, ‘One day, in the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together in a table of brotherhood.’” Was the alderman implying the non-Black council members have past ties to slavery?

• Black cops in Boston are charging a screening method for drug tests — which uses hair samples to determine drug use — is racially biased. The cops were terminated after failing the tests. Their lawyer argues Black hair and Black hair care products can yield false results. So the next time someone says your ‘do is dope…

• A Kenyan man has a mad cow crush on Chelsea Clinton, offering President Bill Clinton 40 goats and 20 cows for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Yo, bro, she’s not even close to being worth 40 goats and 20 cows.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Essay Eighty-Nine

Feminine hijinks and more with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• TLC members T-Boz and Chilli debuted their singer-search reality TV show, R U the Girl With T-Boz and Chilli. R U sick of American Idol rip-offs 2?

• Some Asian-American women want to be like Mike — Michael Jackson, that is. These women strive to preserve or enhance their pale complexions, using creams, gloves, scrubs, medical treatments and more. A popular saying goes, “If you have white skin, you can cover 1,000 uglinesses.” Or find work as a street mime.

• Super-thin supermodel Kate Moss won her libel suit against a newspaper that ran a story claiming she had collapsed into a “cocaine coma.” Moss will receive a substantial-albeit-undisclosed amount of loot from the Sunday Mirror in London, which she’ll no doubt use to buy a ton of coke. Just kidding. Please don’t sue, Kate.

• The Oprah Winfrey Show: 20th Anniversary DVD Collection is scheduled to release in November. Proceeds from the inevitable sales will benefit Oprah’s Angels Network, one of the TV queen’s charities. Look for the commemorative DVD at any fine Hermes boutique. Just kidding.

• Who let the robot dogs out? A team of students from Spelman College recently participated at RoboCup 2005 in Osaka, Japan — an international competition involving programming Sony AIBO robot dogs. The SpelBots’ accomplishment was nothing short of phenomenal, given that this was their maiden entry in the annual event. Of the 24 teams from around the planet to be deemed worthy, the SpelBots represented the first and only HBCU, the only all-women institution and the only U.S. undergraduate institution in the (dog)house. Team members Aryen Moore-Alston, Brandy Kinlaw, Ebony Smith, Karina Liles, Ebony O'Neal and Shinese Noble — along with faculty adviser Andrew Williams, Ph.D — deserve a round of applause for their breakthrough feat.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Essay Eighty-Eight

It’s Phat Tuesday with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• A Cook County Criminal Court Judge in Illinois stirred controversy by refusing to seat an all-White jury. During jury selection for a recent murder trial, Circuit Judge Evelyn Clay proclaimed, “Folks, you all know I have a rule; I don’t seat all White jurors.” It appears Judge Clay is guilty — of understanding how the system really works.

• Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams has rejoined the team, ending his year-long retirement. Williams still faces a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Nonetheless, he’s happy to be back on natural grass.

• A 40-year-old woman who wanted to be a “cool mom” admitted to arranging parties for teens where she supplied drugs, booze and sex. Silvia Johnson now faces a prison sentence for her crimes. The inevitable send-off party is gonna rock.

• In light of recruiting problems, the U.S. Army is being more sensitive about how people are abused at boot camps. No word on changes regarding how people are abused at prison camps.

• Ads for the upcoming AAF Forum Diversity Achievement And Mosaic Awards 2005 lead with the headline, “Advertising Week explodes when diverse minds come together.” Rather curious choice of words given all the continued paranoia surrounding terrorism. But the event is sure to be da bomb.

Essay Eighty-Seven

Essay Eighty-Six presented a column that appeared in the latest issue of Marketing y Medios, along with the standard MultiCultClassics rebuttal. The author of the original viewpoint graciously posted a response. Essay Eighty-Seven continues the discussion. Readers are encouraged to view the previous essay and response before perusing below.


Dear Henry Louis Gómez:

First and foremost, thank you for reading and writing. Your participation in the MultiCultClassics experiment is honestly appreciated. The following attempts to clarify statements and advance the debate.

Your comment regarding the condescending tone indicates you’re a new visitor to the blog. Welcome to the party.

Rest assured, the entire point of your perspective was not missed. In fact, it was completely understood. While there is concurrence in certain sections, there is disagreement in others. Surely you didn’t expect folks to praise every word you wrote. After all, if your position were irrefutable, there would have been no need to publish it.

Please spend more time studying affirmative action, as your beliefs on the subject are somewhat blurred. Affirmative action was never intended to be a long-term or absolute solution for anything. The goal of affirmative action is to level playing fields and create equal opportunities. It’s not about “discriminating in favor” of anyone; rather, it tries to combat the continued biased behavior that disables qualified candidates from getting a fair shot. Affirmative action is not a legal mandate. Otherwise, our industry would never be so awful in the area of diversity. Additionally, affirmative action was not designed for specific communities. It’s for all people. Here’s a trivia question: What single group has benefited the most from affirmative action? (The answer appears at the end of this letter.)

You whined that your agency doesn’t get any bonus points. Mr. Gómez, you don’t deserve any bonus points — and, more importantly, you don’t need any! You admitted that Hill | Holliday provides access to tremendous research and disciplines you never had before. What the hell else do you require?

You also whined that you’re “just as Hispanic as the guy working at a Hispanic marketing shop owned by an individual Hispanic.” No argument there. At the same time, if you’ve been in multicultural marketing for over nine years, you know how the game is played. You should have realized the challenges you’d face by joining the minority practice of a non-minority agency. You’re enjoying the rewards, but griping about the little inconveniences.

Please don’t presume the seemingly cynical remarks seek to denigrate multicultural marketing. Yes, the system definitely demands improvement. But the proposals you might suggest probably will not bring positive progress.

You’re correct that the problems require starting to change mindsets. But the mindsets that need the most revision are not just between the ears of clients. The revolution must begin with the non-minorities who sign your paycheck.

Multicultural marketing is looked upon like something new, despite the fact that it’s been around for over 50 years. When jobs and budgets were plentiful, the non-minority shops allowed the segregated efforts to proceed without intervention. But as the consumer market evolved, and minority audiences gained importance (i.e., generated profits), the game shifted. And once non-minority bottom lines were disturbed, the response was not good.

Instead of revamping staffs to reflect the needs of consumers, the big companies simply bought their own minorities. The segregation lingers, even though everyone is under one virtual roof. And to add insult to injury, now the non-minority agencies beg for “equal” status and the same meager accommodations granted to smaller companies — despite already holding the superior resources, disciplines and positions.

You’re naïve to think minorities are not barred from ownership. Ditto if you imagine IPG is diverse in any sense of the word — except perhaps in the stock portfolios of its actual leaders. Need proof? Count the minorities employed at Hill | Holliday’s general agency. And don’t include the mailroom, secretarial and janitorial workers. The truth is, the majority of minority owners left non-minority environments to ultimately find major success.

Your editorial would have been more powerful and credible if co-signed by officers from all divisions. Why does the issue only affect you every day? Why isn’t everyone striving for a better way of doing business?

Don’t take this personally. You’ve earned respect for voicing your opinions. And believe it or not, you have it. But to be perfectly frank, your original tone smacked of condescension. Mr. Gómez, you’re attacking the wrong enemy — and inadvertently dissing the minority agencies that built your career.

Clients may appear misguided in their requests, but their true objective is to do the right thing. We just need to give them the right alternatives. Non-minority agencies have not offered excellent options yet.

Finally, clients wouldn’t be forced to delegate diversity objectives to minority partners if non-minority partners weren’t so damned monochromatic. In short, exclusivity sucks for our industry and society.

Please feel free to continue the dialogue. We should be allies in this cause.


P.S., Here’s the answer to the trivia question: White women have benefited the most from affirmative action. Think about that for a while.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Essay Eighty-Six

Here’s another provocative perspective that appeared in the latest issue of Marketing y Medios, a Hispanic-focused magazine from the publishers of Adweek. MultiCultClassics’ responses appear throughout in ALL CAPS.

Who are the Owners Of Your Agency?
July 18, 2005

(Henry Louis Gómez is the planning director of Hispanic marketing for Hill | Holliday Hispanic in Miami Beach. Gómez has worked in the Hispanic marketing industry for more than nine years.)

Who are the current owners of your agency? That is a question that I often see in the Hispanic RFPs, and it is a great question.

The simple answer is this: I work in the Hispanic marketing practice of Hill | Holliday. Our agency is wholly owned by The Interpublic Group of Companies.


But this answer oftentimes automatically disqualifies us from further consideration. You see, it’s not the question they ask but the why.

Many clients want to know if a prospective Hispanic-focused agency is minority-owned. The reality is that clients prefer to select minority-owned and operated agencies for minority marketing since there’s considerable political pressure to do so for the sake of achieving diversity. In fact, many not only prefer minority ownership, they require it.



This makes sense if the only goal is to close the wealth gap between minorities and non-minorities, one agency owner at a time. Considering that my colleagues at Hill | Holliday Hispanic and I are just as Hispanic as our counterparts that work for minority-owned Hispanic agencies, this prevailing attitude strikes me as patronizing, self-defeating and myopic.




I thought the objective of an agency review was to find and hire the firm that brings the best ideas to the table, understands the brand and the target and otherwise makes the best business partner for the client.


I once worked at a minority/woman-owned agency, and we didn’t have the breadth and depth of resources or expertise that we have at Hill | Holliday Hispanic. Yet, in some cases, our agency is completely hamstrung — unable to demonstrate its resources and expertise in the pitch process because we don’t meet the client’s diversity requirements. These clients are doing themselves a huge disservice by eliminating some agencies from consideration.



In order to avoid being left out of reviews, many Hispanic agencies are technically 51 percent minority-owned with the remaining 49 percent being owned by a public corporation. Ah, the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law, an age-old challenge!


But I think I’ve figured it out now. The next time I’m asked who owns Hill | Holliday Hispanic I’m going to give a more honest answer. Our company is owned by a multitude of people of both genders, various races, religions and ethnicities that all hold stock in IPG. After all, according to Scarborough Research, of all the individuals reporting that their household owns mutual funds/stocks/stock options 9.63 percent are Hispanic, 8.11 percent are black and 48.19 percent are women.


How much more diverse can you get?





Essay Eighty-Five

MultiCultClassics Minutes presents five more reasons to hate Mondays…

• The Michael Jackson trial will ultimately cost taxpayers at least $2.7 million. Damn, the alleged victim’s sleazy parent would have settled for a lot less. Next time, officials should consider pay-per-view to reduce citizens’ financial burdens.

• World Wrestling Entertainment took a body blow from raging viewers over an Arab-American character on its “Smackdown!” program. Hundreds of complaints poured in after an episode aired during the recent London terrorist bombings. The character, Muhammad Hassan, will no longer be featured on the show. Never thought wrestling fans could be so political.

• A Brazilian soap opera called “America” revolves around a woman who is living illegally in the U.S. Critics complain the popular drama encourages Brazilians to make the trek north by over-glamorizing the possibilities. If the network wants to counter the effects, just run The Jerry Springer Show.

• Folks are complaining about a T-shirt design from Urban Outfitters that reads, “New Mexico, Cleaner than Regular Mexico.” Yet there are probably fewer gripes about Memín Pinguín. Go figure.

• Demonstrators in New Mexico are protesting a civilian border patrol group called the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. The volunteers’ goal is to ensure immigrants “fill out the paperwork and sign the guest book at the gate” — and the effort is slated to launch in October. The League of United Latin American Citizens marched to complain the organization is racist and un-American. Wonder if Minuteman members will pick up their uniforms at Urban Outfitters.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Essay Eighty-Four

Just when you thought it was safe to cross the border, Memín Pinguín made an encore appearance of sorts. The editorial below ran in the latest issue of Marketing y Medios, a Hispanic-focused magazine from the publishers of Adweek. The editorial is followed by MultiCultClassics’ rebuttal.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Transcending Stereotypes
July 18, 2005

AS THIS ISSUE WENT to press, a new rift had erupted between the United States and Mexico involving a question of racism — again. Barely a month after President Vicente Fox came under fire for making remarks that were considered racist by some African-American leaders in the U.S., Mexico again was in the spotlight. This time the culprit was Memín Pinguín, a comic book character from the 1940s that was featured on a special series of postage stamps commemorating Mexico’s cartoon tradition. The problem? Memín Pinguín is a naughty young boy who happens to be black, of Cuban origin to be precise.

The dispute reached a critical point in early July, with the White House demanding the withdrawal of the stamps and the Mexican government refusing to do so.

I grew up reading Memín Pinguín, as did my parents. Memín often got into trouble, mostly for being poor, not for being black. We laughed at, and with, Memín not because he was black but because he was mischievous — not unlike, say, Dennis the Menace. Yet the only thing critics of the comic strip in the U.S. see is the use of stereotypes. (He is dark-skinned, and his “mama” wears a bandanna on her head.)

Contrary to what his detractors think, Memín Pinguín actually transcended stereotypes by reaching millions of people (young and old, rich and poor) throughout decades, regardless of the color of his skin. That is the exact opposite of a stereotype and something marketers, advertisers and the media could learn from.

(signed) Laura Martínez Ruiz-Velasco


Dear Laura Martínez Ruiz-Velasco:

The great thing about Marketing y Medios is the publication’s ability to create forums for insightful dialogue and debate.

As Marketing y Medios is quick to point out — with monthly criticisms and examples — everything doesn’t directly translate from culture to culture. Advertising taglines, images and concepts generate entirely different meanings and responses for different audiences. This is especially true in the case of Memín Pinguín too. The Chevrolet Nova had opposing definitions for people from separate countries. So does the Cuban critter you adore.

The “detractors” offended by Memín Pinguín may be unaware of the mischievous boy’s origins. However, most of them are painfully aware of stereotypical depictions — which, incidentally, are not exclusive to Mexico and the United States. Characters with Memín Pinguín’s features are never universally positive. Subsequent news reports have already detailed even Mexican Blacks are not fans of the comic hero. News reports also revealed the bias and discrimination Blacks face in Mexico. Sorry, but Memín Pinguín is no Dennis the Menace.

You claimed Memín Pinguín often got into trouble for being poor, not for being Black — which led to laugh-inducing hijinks. Oddly enough, you’ve stumbled upon one of the great misconceptions about the bigger problem. Contrary to what Bill Cosby or conservative fanatics may lead the public to believe, the adverse issues involving minorities are rarely based on race or culture; rather, things are mostly rooted in poverty and economic status. If our global society hopes to make progress, we cannot allow ourselves to respond with amusement or indifference to the plights of the poor.

Everyone recognizes the hypocrisy of the United States’ outrage. Little Black Sambo, the Frito Bandito, Charlie Chan, the Cisco Kid, Uncle Remus and Golliwogs are blatant samples of once popular characters now deemed derogatory. But we shouldn’t turn this into a bizarre competition. Few of us are not guilty of past indiscretions. Heck, more than a few are guilty of current and continued indiscretions.

Has Memín Pinguín transcended stereotypes? The answer is a resounding no. The proof is all the controversy that exploded once he ventured beyond Latino borders. Take a closer look at Memín Pinguín, particularly how he is rendered — literally and figuratively — versus others in the comic book. And when you look, try to view matters through the eyes of outsiders.

If Memín Pinguín is indeed beloved, then make him Marketing y Medios’ official mascot or add him to the comic strip roster. See how quickly your VNU parent company reacts. Not to mention your readers and advertisers.

Marketers, advertisers and the media could absolutely learn something from Memín Pinguín. Perhaps you could as well.


P.S., Please visit for more about Memín Pinguín. See Essays 60, 62, 65, 66, 68 and 70 (Plus, Essay 11 showcased Marketing y Medios).

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Essay Eighty-Three

The state of affairs with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Add Kimberly-Clark to the growing list of companies downsizing. The diaper manufacturer plans to lay off 6,000 workers and shut down 20 factories. That’s a shitload of diapers, man.

• The country's biggest direct marketing group has created a Do Not Contact list to remove deceased people from telemarketing, email and direct mail efforts. So you won’t receive any more dinnertime phone calls from salespeople for your dearly departed Granny. However, credit issuers are still willing to sign her up for a new MasterCard. Charging custom rims with your dead Granny’s credit card: priceless.

• Lately, it seems like Ohio wants to become the Racist Capital of the Midwest. Recent adventures involve intimidation moves targeting Hispanics. The drama started when a Hispanic man allegedly sexually assaulted a 9-year-old White girl. Since then, the rape suspect’s predominately Hispanic neighborhood has been victimized by hate efforts including arson and Ku Klux Klan visits. It’s interesting to note the Buckeye State’s motto is, “With God all things are possible.” Wonder what the Almighty One is thinking right now.

• Somali workers at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport faced discrimination, according to the EEOC. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the airport workers experienced racial bias in the forms of revised security clearance tests, inappropriate supervisor remarks and termination. Georgia’s state motto reads, “Wisdom, justice, and moderation.” Perhaps it means justice in moderation.

• Hate crimes in New York have decreased since 2000 by about 44 percent. It should be noted, however, that overall crime has reduced during the same time period. Last month’s Howard Beach episode involving a group of White men beating a Black man with a baseball bat was New York’s 125th hate crime for the year. That works out to roughly 20 per month. I Love NY.

Essay Eighty-Two

A musical extravaganza conducted by MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• The judge in the Michael Jackson case ordered prosecutors to return the items seized from the King Of Pop during the trial and investigation. Pity the fool who has to pack all the soiled porn magazines and undergarments. Plus, look for much of it to appear on eBay soon.

• Now a man in New Orleans has filed a lawsuit against Jackson, claiming MJ sexually assaulted him in 1984. Joseph Bartucci, who was 18 years old at the time of the alleged incident, says his memories of the foul deed were suppressed until recently. This case should be thrown out immediately. Everyone knows Jackson doesn’t sexually assault men over 13 years old.

• Discrimination is emanating from an uncommon source — the world of classical music. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra named Marin Alsop as conductor, making her the first woman to lead a big-time orchestra. However, the appointment was accompanied by controversy. A seven-month hunt ended with Alsop, but not before seven orchestra members on the search committee tried to block the decision. The excuse given? A desire to make certain the best candidate was found. Yet most folks, including prominent industry figures, recognize gender discrimination plays loud and clear in the field. As an encore incident, a violinist who worked for the New York Philharmonic filed a lawsuit, charging he was axed because he’s a man. The terminated violinist argues females receive preferential treatment (20 of the 33 violinists in the Philharmonic are women). Former compatriots insist the firing was based on performance, with one orchestra official sniffing, “It’s not even the culture in our business to differentiate whether the person is a female or a male player.” Hmmmm. Baltimore’s Marin Alsop might at least counter it’s a different story for conductors.

• Audiences may eventually overdose on rapper movies, with upcoming films showcasing Notorious B.I.G. and 50 Cent. Nonetheless, Hustle & Flow is worth checking out. After playing supporting characters for so long, Terrence Howard makes the most of his starring role. And Ludacris turns in a brief-yet-brilliant performance too. So please turn off your cell phone and enjoy the feature presentation.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Essay Eighty-One

Allegedly fascinating MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• After allegedly reviewing an extensive list of Supreme Court Justice candidates that included women, Hispanics and other minorities, President George W. Bush opted to replace Sandra Day O’Connor with a conservative White man from Harvard. Incidentally, Harvard hired its very first diversity adviser just last week. And of course, Bush received his Harvard MBA back in 1975.

• Lawyers in the R. Kelly proceedings are still haggling over the production time frame for the infamous video of Kelly and an underage girl allegedly having sex. Prosecutors contend the tape was shot between January 1998 and November 2000. The R&B artist’s attorneys argue that’s still too “excessive” for their client to mount an effective defense. At this point, folks should realize Kelly is willing to mount anything.

• Responding to the Crash Moment between Illinois State Senator Reverend James Meeks and an allegedly abusive cop, Chicago aldermen are now proposing an official “Traffic Stop Code of Conduct.” Hey, if Chicago aldermen are involved, the guidelines undoubtedly include advanced bribe tactics.

• On an unrelated Chicago City Council note, Ald. Dorothy Tillman continues to reject financial deals between the city and institutions with past ties to slavery. Reparations champion Tillman has accused Morgan Stanley and LaSalle Bank of slave ties; however, both companies deny the charges. It might be fun to learn how many Chicago aldermen could be allegedly linked to slavery.

• The fast-food industry knows the public doesn’t care about healthy eating — and most restaurant chains allegedly don’t even try to hide disinterest for wholesome menu items. A spokesperson for Mickey D’s admitted the deep-fried dinosaur has stopped using the word “healthy” on signage because research showed it turns off customers. The executive proclaimed, “If Americans wanted tofu, McDonald’s could provide the best-tasting, most convenient, most affordable, freshest tofu there is. The problem is, Americans don’t want tofu.” Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout McWillis? Sure, America doesn’t want tofu. But don’t think for a millisecond Mickey D’s could provide the premier soybean curd if it was desired. In taste surveys, the burger joint consistently gets shitty ratings against nearly every competitor. Plus, the word “fresh” always requires an asterisk and legal disclaimers under the Golden Arches. Naw, if Americans wanted tofu, Ronald McDonald would personally microwave a preservative-filled, logo-shaped slab, squeeze it between triple-quarter-pounder meat patties and serve it with a crate of grease-oozing fries and a keg of Coke — plus, ask if you wanted a super-sized apple pie on the side. And the damned clown wouldn’t bother wearing a hairnet on his raggedy, red ‘fro.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Essay Eighty

Dead men walking with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Scotty has beamed to the final frontier. Trekkies around the galaxy mourned the passing of James Doohan, who played the able, affable and occasionally alcoholic engineer on Star Trek. As it turns out, Scotty wasn’t even Scottish. The Canadian-born actor enjoyed faking dialects and decided to make Montgomery Scott a Scotsman. Wonder if Scotland natives ever found the character to be stereotypical and offensive. Plus, maybe Sulu wasn’t really Asian or Uhura wasn’t truly Black.

• Somebody wants to shoot Notorious B.I.G. again, only this time for the silver screen. Plans are underway to produce a feature film about the rapper, with key players already assembling for the effort. Journalist Cheo Hodari Coker is set to handle the script, and reports claim Antoine Fuqua will direct the action. Casting should be interesting. Actors like Jamie Foxx would have to pull a De Niro-does-Raging-Bull move to be credible. Anthony Anderson might be an interesting choice, considering his performance on The Shield.

• Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane is facing murder charges for his involvement in a May 10 shooting. At this point, most sources agree Mane was the main shooter; although now the artist is rhyming it was self-defense. This isn’t Mane’s debut performance with the law. He was sentenced to 90 days in April 2001 for cocaine charges. So he’s clearly making progress in his thug career.

• Getting in trouble with the law takes on a whole different meaning in Jude Law’s household. The actor made a public apology to his fiancée and family for his affair with the nanny. Yes, confessing via worldwide media is the perfect way to keep a romance strong. And technically, the actor still owes everyone a mea culpa for Alfie.

• Deaf man walking. Kevin Hall will make PGA Tour history as the first deaf golfer when he competes in Thursday’s U.S. Bank Championship. The 22-year-old Hall said, “If they identify me as a deaf golfer, that's fine. Eventually people will identify me as just Kevin.” Or maybe just champion.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Essay Seventy-Nine

Mildly meaningless midweek MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Mickey D’s is launching new Premium Chicken Sandwiches. Seems like the fast food dinosaur is introducing improved chicken items every month. The upgraded sandwiches will retail at a higher price than other burgers. Perhaps because these chicken sandwiches actually contain chicken…?

• Lil’ Kim has filed a lil’ lawsuit against Lil’ Cease. Lil Cease’s testimony revealed Lil’ Kim’s lil’ lie to a grand jury, for which she’s gonna do a lil’ time. Now Lil’ Cease is looking to release a lil’ DVD that includes a lil’ unauthorized usage of Lil’ Kim’s name, image and likeness. If this all seems a lil’ confusing, just be glad it doesn’t involve Lil’ Boozie, Lil’ Bow Wow, Lil’ Fame, Lil’ Flip, Lil’ John, Lil’ Ma$so, Lil’ Mo, Lil’ Romeo, Lil’ Scrappy, Lil’ Troy, Lil’ Wayne, Lil’ Wyte, Lil’ Zane, Little Richard or The Little Rascals.

• Senator Barack Obama withdrew his objection to the hiring of Henrietta Fore for a State Department gig. Obama decided to let the approval process move forward after meeting with Fore and investigating her record and reputation. Fore also wrote Obama and promised to expand minority recruitment. On an unrelated employment note, Obama hired Samantha Power to join his Senate staff. Power is a prominent human-rights activist, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and lecturer.

• Kodak is poised to lay off 10,000 workers. Hewlett-Packard is planning to dump 14,500 employees. GM continues to post quarterly losses — wonder how long before the GM Employee Discount becomes the GM Employee Discharge. And to top it all off, the Detroit Pistons essentially let go Larry Brown. Looks like the only folks to benefit here will be and

• Former Black Panthers are seeking to trademark the phrase, “Burn Baby Burn” — but not for a new radical movement or fierce political protest. The group is marketing hot sauce. Plus, they’re plotting to unleash some salsa. No, really. This is not a joke.

Welcome, New Readers


In the Advertising Industry, racism continues to be a major problem.

Diversity programs flounder.

Self-regulatory initiatives move more slowly than the legal actions in our court systems.

It seems like everyone wants to pretend nothing’s wrong. Sadly, the only people speaking out are outsiders — from Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to New York City Council member Larry Seabrook and the New York City Human Rights Commission. Insiders can’t go public unless they’re ready to leave the industry entirely, fearing the politics that lead to job loss and more.

It’s time to create discussions and debates. And now there’s a forum designed to do just that.

The blog was created by an advertising insider with a unique perspective on today’s multicultural issues. The writer has worked extensively at mass market agencies and multicultural agencies, witnessing firsthand all the things most people will ignore or even deny.

Please view the blog — starting with Essay One. Then share it with everyone you know.

Thank you very much.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Essay Seventy-Eight

Law & Disorder with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• The California Supreme Court ruled a manager who has intimate relationships with an employee can create a professional environment that constitutes sexual harassment even for uninvolved workers. So folks can sue for mad cash without being forced to do the wild thing. This means, gentlemen, that if you’re banging one underling, you may as well get busy with the rest of the staff too.

• Somebody finally figured a way to slow down the spread of hip hop. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez passed a law requiring at least half of all music played on the radio must be the country’s traditional tunes. So for every Busta Rhymes, there will be bandolas. For every Hey Ya, there will be harps. In the U.S., Republican leadership is probably exploring the feasibility of similar measures — for every Ja Rule there will be Josh Groban.

• New York’s Commission on Human Rights recently presented a disturbing survey showing White men with felony records are just as likely to land a job in New York City as law-abiding Black men. Start spreading the news — Kenny Rogers will always be welcome to join the Mets or Yankees.

• Leo Burnett is under fire for its contract extensions with the U.S. Army account. The original 4-year contract started in 2000, and the law requires competitive bidding to take place. But Army officials have granted what amounts to an additional 1.5 years without any pitching. Guess it shows that all’s fair in love and war.

• The traffic-stop incident starring Illinois State Senator Reverend James Meeks and an allegedly abusive cop has Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White considering the addition of tips in driver’s manuals detailing what to do when pulled over by police. Official Tip Number One: If you’re White, please remain in the driver’s seat of your vehicle. If you’re Black, stay in the fucking car.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Essay Seventy-Seven

Perusing the advertising in popular Black publications, seeking signs of progress...

• Nielsen Media Research, dealing with controversies surrounding its minority measuring methods, is running some peculiar stuff. A print ad states, “We’re not all on the same channel, isn’t that great?” Well, for starters, the headline isn’t great. It can be read in various ways, none of them good. Is Nielsen figuratively not on the same page with the rest of us? And the visual is really messed up, with chopped images of different Black people pieced together in contrived creative fashion. What’s the main message here — Black audiences are diverse? Damn, that’s quite a revelation from the alleged experts. Wonder what Nielsen hopes to accomplish. They’re not asking Black viewers to act on anything. Overall, it looks like a White corporation clumsily responding to issues most folks didn’t even know about. Or care about. Now there’s advertising that folks won’t care about too.

• The Colgate MaxFresh campaign is anything but fresh. The client-appeasing art direction features red-toned photos, gigantic logos integrated into headlines and over-sized product shots. The worst headline in the bunch: Max daddy. The copy follows through with, “When your game is tight, you know it.” Yo, when your ads are shit, you know it. Or maybe you don’t.

• The Gain Scoop Weekly pictures Black women literally fighting over the detergent. The copy claims, “Women go berserk over the scent of Gain.” And you thought the 1992 L.A. riots resulted from the Rodney King verdict.

• Mickey D’s continues to push the limits of good taste on multiple levels.

A salads ad leads with, “I’m feelin’ a little fresh today.” The sassy copy continues, “I don’t want tired old anything in my day. That includes my style, my makeup and my lunch.” Apparently, the stylin’ and profilin’ crowd won’t settle for just any bowl of greens. You go, girl. Go away, that is.

Another ad exhibits a painting of a child in a tree swing. The copy reads:

I once heard a story… “Whatever blooms from the Baobab is given back to the earth, because the mighty tree never forgets its roots.” Like the mighty Baobab, McDonald’s and I will not be moved.

Talk about McPatronizing. The tagline makes a reference to 365 Black. It’s more like 365 Wack, to use an outdated term.

• The awful car advertising is running bumper to bumper.

A hip, urban mob swoons over the 2005 Volvo S40 T5. The subhead announces, “Don’t let the Superfly styling mess with your mind. It’s still built like a Volvo.” The unreadable, endless copy is set in all caps. Somebody please pimp this layout.

The next decent Nissan Infiniti “In Black” advertisement will be the first. Don’t hold your breath.

Chevy Trailblazer proclaims, “With all this, you’ll definitely be all that.” The campaign plays off Chevy’s platform — An American Revolution. Pray the revolution will not be televised.

Mercedes-Benz appears to have taken their general market ad and simply replaced the headline with this Black-friendly gem: “Forget lust. We’re talking pure love jones.” No, you’re talking pure hackneyed garbage.

Confidence. Style, with vision for miles.
Innovative. Sharp, fresh, classic and now.
V-8 strong, professional charm. I’m riding with you.
Look like bad copy for the 2005 Envoy Denali by GMC? Yes, brought to you by Mos Def. Hey, if you’re gonna sell out, go all out.

Finally, to the dozens of companies displaying diversity ads touting the power of a multicultural workforce, it’s time to walk the walk. And while you’re at it, demand your advertising agencies show the same commitment to creating environments reflecting consumers and the country. Or are you merely satisfying corporate objectives of supporting minority media?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Essay Seventy-Six

The late Sunday Edition of MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Cardinal Health Inc. is introducing pill bottles that talk, providing recorded messages to give patients dosage instructions. Viagra containers will probably play pick-up lines.

• Tiger Woods picked up his 10th major championship with a decisive victory at the British Open. “No matter how good you play, you can always play better,” he said. That’s tough news for the competition.

• The competition in the 2005 Emmy Awards Best Commercial category includes entries from, inc., BBDO New York, DDB Chicago, DDB Los Angeles and Fallon New York. Congratulations to the nominees for their outstanding achievements. Then again, Jennifer Garner also nabbed a nomination.

• Hey, how come Jennifer Garner — whose greatest acting achievement is Elektra — got a nomination, but Anthony Anderson was overlooked for his brilliant performance on The Shield? Anderson’s Antwan Mitchell character made The Shield’s nasty cops look downright meek.

• Here’s the latest quote from Illinois State Senator Reverend James Meeks on his Crash Moment confrontation with a nasty cop: “I’m an African American who had recourse. I’m an elected official. But if that happened to me, Ray Ray doesn’t have a chance; ain’t nothing he can do.”

Essay Seventy-Five

Summer movies and summer moves now playing at a MultiCultClassics Minutes multiplex near you…

• Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is another Tim Burton extravaganza — with incredible filmmaking and innovative special effects. As expected, Johnny Depp put an original twist on the Willy Wonka character. Depp claimed to have drawn inspiration from children’s TV show figures like Captain Kangaroo and Mister Rogers. But despite the star’s denials, it appears Depp really incorporated Michael Jackson’s personality traits. Sick, but brilliant.

• Fantastic Four is worth seeing, though the dialogue and acting are less than fantastic. Tim Story, whose credits include Barbershop and Taxi, directed the blockbuster. While the movie remained relatively true to the comic book, there was one interesting casting decision — Kerry Washington played Alicia Masters, the Thing’s blind girlfriend. Not sure what the implication is here. Only a sistah could be freaky enough to do the wild Thing?

• David LaChapelle, mostly known for semi-bizarre celebrity portrait photography, turned in a provocative feature film debut with Rize. It’s part music video, part documentary — Hype Williams does Hoop Dreams. That’s probably not a very good movie review, so check it out and decide for yourself.

• Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. joined other Black elected leaders in condemning the Crash Moment experienced by state Senator James Meeks. Meeks was pulled over by a police sergeant who inevitably drew his pistol and stuck it in Meeks’ face while hurling obscenities. Jackson demanded suspending the sergeant, and also wants police to revise traffic-stop policies to prevent similar scenarios. Not to diss JJ Jr., but it seems the request to revise traffic-stop policies was first made around, oh, the invention of the wheel.

• In an unrelated traffic stop, ex-Village People cop Victor Edward Willis was arrested when real cops found a gun, rock cocaine and drug items in his car. Willis probably insisted he was just on his way to the YMCA and tried to pin everything on the Indian Chief guy.

• Direct response behemoth Draft is at it again. A few months ago, the company bragged about launching the first dedicated multicultural unit in the direct response sector. At the time, Draft also hired Larry Harris as EVP, Director of Integrated and Cross-Cultural Communications (see Essay Nine). Now comes the announcement of a new addition to the ranks — Walkyria “Wally” Rey as VP of Cross-Cultural Marketing. Rey has held cross-cultural marketing consultant gigs with AT&T Wireless, Clorox and the U.S. Army. Plus, she developed cross-cultural programs for United Airlines. Not sure if there’s a difference between cross-cultural and multicultural. Regardless, Rey joined the Chicago office, reporting to CMO Tony Weisman. Wonder how Harris fits into the revamped cross-cultural picture.

• In another direct response scenario, reports revealed the Pentagon is using a marketing firm to raid high school records for data on potential recruits. During the past two years, Massachusetts direct marketing company BeNOW has been compiling names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and, you guessed it, racial backgrounds for enlistment tactics. The information is available thanks to the No Child Left Behind law. Maybe it should be renamed to No Child Left Unsolicited.

• How damned difficult is it to make Oreo cookies? Nabisco Foods botched the limited edition of Pure Milk Chocolate Covered Oreo (did the public really need a limited edition?), accidentally stuffing the centers with peanut butter. The massive screw-up of 838,000 boxes is actually the second recall of Oreo products this month. The first recall involved packages of Oreo Thin Crisps Baked Chocolate Wafer Snacks containing Chips Ahoy cookies. This all sets up the cheap shot of the week: Upon hearing of the Oreo recalls, Chief Justice Clarence Thomas turned himself over to Nabisco officials.

• Dumb Discriminator Of The Month Award goes to T-ball coach Mark R. Downs Jr. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Downs allegedly paid a player $25 to injure an 8-year-old mentally disabled teammate — all because Downs didn’t want to play the kid in a game. The disabled child was hit in the head and groin by a baseball. Downs faces charges including criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault and corruption of minors. Not sure why he’s getting off so easy. If Downs were an employer, he’d clearly be facing a discrimination lawsuit and more. Plus, do his actions constitute a hate crime? The inevitable sentencing should involve letting NY Yankees ace Randy Johnson hurl fastballs at Down’s groin. Then broadcast it 24/7 on ESPN SportsCenter.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Essay Seventy-Four

Thank Whatever-Deity-You-Worship It’s Friday with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• President George W. Bush addressed a supportive crowd at the Indiana Black Expo, taking credit for lessening the gap between black and white elementary school students’ test scores. The results were released July 14 by the Education Department. Wonder how Bush’s test scores would compare to the students’ marks.

• Newspaper stories reported a Neo-Nazi group received a certificate of appreciation from the city of Cadillac, Michigan for participating in a park cleanup. Officials claim they did not realize who the group was when issuing the award. However, the group insists the city had to be aware, as the Nazis showed up for the event in t-shirts bearing swastikas. Regardless, here are some headline ideas for the story:

>Human garbage picks up garbage and wins award.
>Nazis clean up park, but fail to clean up their act.
>Michigan recognizes Nazi group for its trash-filled efforts.
>Neo-Nazis a hit(ler) with city officials.
>Nazis love pretty parks, hate everything else.

• Crash Moment of the Week:
Illinois State Senator Reverend James Meeks was involved in a traffic stop that resulted in the White cop pulling out his gun and aiming it at Meeks’ face. But wait, the details get crazier. It all started when Meeks’ 1993 Olds Delta 88 was stopped for alleged traffic violations by a 10-year veteran police sergeant. Meeks was with his wife, son and security guard/driver — and they were heading home from Bible study at Salem Baptist Church, where Meeks serves as the minister. When Meeks exited the car and identified himself, the cop snarled, “Get back in the fucking car.” Meeks repeated his identity, at which point the cop drew his revolver, stuck it in Meeks’ face and said, “I know who you are… get back in the fucking car.” Chicago Mayor Richard Daley called the incident “an embarrassment,” and demanded an immediate investigation.

• White House press secretary Scott McClellan was asked if President Bush would meet with new NAACP President Bruce Gordon. McClellan replied he was certain Bush would find time to sit down and chat with Gordon. Granted, the press secretary didn’t specify when this meeting might happen. Note to NAACP President and former Verizon executive Gordon: Don’t wait by the phone for Bush’s call.

• The American Association of Advertising Agencies appears to be making another attempt to address diversity issues. The organization created a new position for its agency diversity programs, hiring Don Richards to fill the post. Richards has served as director of resource development at Leo Burnett and associate national director of affirmative action and diversity at Screen Actors Guild. Let’s hope Richards can accomplish more for diversity in this new role than he did for lily-White Leo Burnett.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Essay Seventy-Three

Trying to get through the week with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Wal-Mart is being accused of racial profiling, having Black customers pull over their shopping carts for searches and interrogations. A discrimination lawsuit has been filed by a group of customers in Massachusetts. And you thought this sort of stuff only happened to Oprah at Hermes.

• NBA nutcase Ron Artest rejoined his Indiana Pacers teammates for a summer camp. Artest vowed to improve his behavior and said, “As you get older, you get a bit more wise… Like everybody else, as they get older, they mature.” Right. Tell that to 40+ year old, 17-year Major League Baseball veteran Kenny Rogers.

• WNBA superstar Katie Smith of the Minnesota Lynx became the first professional women’s player to score 5000 points. Smith already owns two Olympic gold medals, a retired number from Ohio State, league championships, nearly every Lynx team record and more. Her next challenge: beat Ron Artest’s flagrant foul record.

• Ogilvy & Mather executives were sentenced to prison terms for their roles in the White House Drug Office Fraud Case. Shona Seifert will serve 18 months and pay a $125,000 fine; Thomas Early gets 14 months with a $10,000 fine. That’s what happens when you abuse drug accounts.

• Two Indiana men claim to have purchased advance copies of the latest Harry Potter title. The book is officially scheduled for release on June 16 at 12:01am, but these guys managed to snag their editions sooner. Who. Gives. A. Shit.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Essay Seventy-Two

Essay Sixty-Nine discussed the abysmal lack of Black advertising books. Now here’s required reading for the entire industry. Whether you’re a card-carrying member of the NAACP or the KKK — or anything in between — MultiCultClassics cordially invites you to peruse the list below. Studying just one of the following selections will drive you closer to enlightenment and a healthier society. (All should be available via local bookstores, or For the non-readers and/or dyslexics, many of these works have audio cassette or CD options.)

Proversity by Lawrence Otis Graham.
This book helped kick off MultiCultClassics. Review Essay One for a refresher course. Graham introduces progressive diversity — proversity. It’s a proactive solution to bringing different people together to achieve common goals.

Don’t Believe The Hype by Farai Chideya.
Chideya confronts the misunderstandings, miscommunications, misinformation and outright lies with truth, justice and the American way. Facts meet fiction. Facts win.

Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Black Man by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Provocative portraits of prominent Black men, including Colin Powell, James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte and Louis Farrakhan — carefully assembled by an insightful and world-class thinker.

Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol.
A powerful depiction of the challenges faced by children in schools from poor and less affluent suburbs. The contrasts separating the haves and the have nots are staggering. If this book doesn’t change your attitudes, you have no heart. Or mind.

Hard Questions, Heart Answers by Bernice King.
Sermons and speeches by the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. The Reverend Bernice King inherited her father’s gifts and made them her own.

The Truly Disadvantaged by William Julius Wilson.
Forget any preconceived notions about the problems of poverty. Wilson delivers controversial yet compelling analysis and answers to issues that continue to fester today. This book is outstanding.

Black Looks: race and representation by bell hooks.
Twelve essays probing the emotions and politics behind contemporary representations of Black women and men within White culture, served up by a premier American feminist and intellectual.

Beyond Race And Gender by R. Roosevelt Thomas, Jr.
This classic on diversity makes the others look like wannabes. It should be on the bookshelves of every manager and Human Resources Director in the country.

Race Matters by Cornel West.
“Cornel West is one of the most authentic, brilliant, prophetic, and healing voices in America today. We ignore his truth in Race Matters at our own personal and national peril,” said Marian Wright Edelman. Plus, he made a cameo appearance in The Matrix movie series.

Rage Of A Privileged Class by Ellis Cose.
Why are middle-class Blacks angry? Why should America care? The author, columnist and contributing editor for Newsweek tells you why with passion and precision. It’s a must-read for the masses.

Showing My Color by Clarence Page.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist releases “impolite essays on race and identity” with keen wit and simple genius. Plus, he’s got a great email address:

Success Runs In Our Race by George Fraser.
The subtitle reads, “The Complete Guide to Effective Networking in the African-American Community.” However, this book offers unlimited guidance to every professional seeking success, regardless of race, creed or color — ultimately providing a superior way to approach business.

Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man? by Charles Barkley.
The NBA legend and social commentator speaks about race with people of influence in a variety of fields — including Tiger Woods, Jesse Jackson, President Bill Clinton, Samuel L. Jackson, Rabbi Steven Leder, George Lopez, Robert Johnson, Ice Cube and more.

Is Bill Cosby Right? (Or Has The Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?) by Michael Eric Dyson.
Supporters of Cosby’s recent ravings may want to stay away. But author, professor and cultural critic Dyson makes a forceful argument even Fat Albert would back without hesitation.

Race by Studs Terkel.
Another Pultizer Prize-winning writer talks the talk and walks the walk. Terkel listens, learns and unleashes on the American obsession.

By Any Means Necessary by Malcolm X.
Get better acquainted with one of the most misrepresented leaders in American history.

Any book by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Take your pick. It’s all still relevant and inspirational to the world.

Here’s a new book to be enjoyed by everyone, but it won’t count as much as the recommendations above.

The Life And Death Of Bling Bling by Matthew Vescovo.
This graphic novel explains how underground urban culture becomes popular then played out. It’s high art on breakthrough levels.

The list could go forever. And there are bound to be hundreds accidentally absent. Advance apologies for the gems that were missed.

So move forward. Read just one. Don’t delay. If you’re not deliberately trying to fix advertising’s diversity problem, you’re deliberately contributing to the mess.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Essay Seventy-One

Breaking from convention with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Unilever’s Dove brand has been running a “real beauty” campaign showcasing women whose physiques defy the stereotypical supermodel. Now the brand is seeking to extend the concept through partnerships with Bath & Body Works and American Girl. Can’t wait to check out the flat-chested Addy and big-assed Molly dolls. (And let’s not forget flabby Marisol Luna, who fled her dangerous Hispanic ‘hood for the safety of the suburbs — see Essay Eighteen if you don’t get this last remark.)

• Two no-shows at this year’s NAACP national convention: Mexican President Vicente Fox and U.S. President George W. Bush. Both presidents were extended invitations, but declined. Bush has yet to acknowledge the organization’s existence. Fox probably sent Memin Pinguin to represent him. At this point, the NAACP would be lucky to snag Cy Sperling, President of The Hair Club For Men.

• Also revealed at the NAACP national convention: American corporations are not improving in the area of diversity. Most companies showed no difference from last year, indicating little effort is being made for change. Let’s hope the figures didn’t include advertising agencies, or the overall scores would have really sucked.

• Michael Jackson’s Victory Tour from his last courtroom drama may be short-lived. Now Jacko’s being sued by a firm that provided legal aid when dealing with the rights for the Beatles’ music. The firm is demanding a whopping $48 million. Jackson reportedly went pale upon hearing the news. No, wait — it was just another facial treatment.

• Gum creator Wrigley is introducing new Doublemint Twins. Lo and behold, the sisters are sistahs! Request to Wrigley: Please don’t depict the new Doublemint Twins double-dutching.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Essay Seventy

Questionable endings and beginnings with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Mickey D’s has lost again in a wrongful termination discrimination suit filed by an ex-restaurant manager with AIDS. In his second trial, Russell Rich of Ohio was awarded $490,000 in damages. A 2001 trial initially landed Rich $5 million, but the amount was withdrawn after an appeal showed the judge had given faulty instructions. The new award does not have Rich proclaiming, “i’m lovin’ it!” — and plans for an appeal are underway. Rich has rejected Mickey D’s offers to settle. The settlement proposals probably required accepting payment in the form of McDonald’s Gift Certificates.

• Bizarre Alleged Murderer of the Month Award goes to James Butler Jr., aka The Harlem Hammer. Butler, a professional boxer, was charged with using a hammer to murder sportswriter Sam Kellerman. The victim’s Hollywood apartment had been torched, and a hammer was found near his bludgeoned body. Isn’t this like The Joker leaving joker cards at Gotham City crime scenes? If convicted, let’s hope the judge doesn’t declare, “It’s Hammer Time!”

• Willie Nelson is releasing a Reggae album. Don’t mean to sound stereotypical, but does anybody NOT think Nelson’s foray into the genre was inspired by excessive pot smoking?

• The deeper one gets into the Memin Pinguin scenario, well, the deeper it gets. Blacks in Mexico, particularly those living on the Pacific coast, are among the poorest of the poor. And by golly, they do experience discrimination from fairer-skinned fellow countrymen. Police and airport officials routinely make Black Mexicans prove their citizenship by singing the national anthem. There are no government programs to address their needs — unlike the country’s other indigenous groups. Some are encouraged to intermarry to create children less Black. Memin Pinguin supporters still insist protesters don’t understand Mexican culture. That may be true. But most outsiders completely comprehend how racism works.

• Former Verizon executive Bruce Gordon will officially be sworn in as new leader of the NAACP at the organization’s national convention being held in Milwaukee. Gordon brings new perspectives and experience to the civil rights group. At Verizon, he helped create great diversity and opportunities, while rising to a high level of power in the business community. In a recent New York Times interview, Gordon commented, “When you advertise, you communicate your company’s products and services. You don’t advertise, people don’t get the message. Do we need to promote the NAACP, for what it is, what it stands for? Absolutely.” Look for Verizon’s multicultural advertising agencies to pick up a new client soon.

Essay Sixty-Nine

MultiCultClassics recently spotted the following hype for a soon-to-be-released business book:

What’s Black About It?
Insights to Increase Your Share of the Changing African-American Market
by Pepper Miller and Herb Kemp

At last — in-depth qualitative insights and quantitative information paint an eye-opening picture of Black culture and the Black lifestyle and how to connect your products and services with Black consumers.

What’s Black About It? presents historical, psychological, and cultural influences that delve far deeper into the Black experience than the demographics that are at the heart of other ethnic marketing books and market research reports. Now you will be able to break through stereotypes to better understand and relate to African-American consumers.

Other ethnic marketing books may include a general chapter or two on Black consumers.
What’s Black About It? focuses on African-American consumers and engages you with bold graphics, pop-culture sidebars, statistics and insights from focus groups, and examples from current advertising and marketing campaigns.

The book also includes an extensive resource guide of African-American marketers, ad agencies, public relations companies and other sources that, along with its compelling text and stats, make it a landmark “must have” reference for every marketer.

[End of hype]

Given the scarcity of books that showcase Black marketing — mostly due to the scarcity of Black marketing — this new title probably deserves some respect. Final judgment will be withheld until viewing the character of its content. However, based on experience and highly subjective opinion, there are lots of reasons to question the true value of What’s Black About It?

For starters, lead author Pepper Miller is the president of a small research firm (visit Bragging about qualitative and quantitative data impresses corporate types but depresses creative types. And while the company’s client roster is extensive, there are few listed names producing stellar Black advertising. Plus, the majority of the agency clients are Black ad shops. Not sure why Black ad shops would consult with a Black research firm, except to assist in organizing Black focus groups.

The book promises to help marketing professionals “break through stereotypes to better understand and relate to African-American consumers.” Then again, the clients mentioned above — especially the Black ad shops — are actually generating the bulk of the stereotype-riddled messages infesting our media. You are instructed to exercise caution when approached by entities professing to hold the keys to Black culture. Let’s pray the book isn’t offering formulas for effective Black communications (e.g., spotlight family reunions, barbecues, gospel choirs, graduations, graffiti, sassy grandmas, jazz bands, double dutch, Kwanzaa, barbershops, dancers, disc jockeys, dreadlocks/afros/braids, basketball, Black celebrities, pimped rides, hip-hop or the word “style”).

Despite the initial skepticism, MultiCultClassics endorses What’s Black About it? Not that the recommendation holds any weight or credibility. A full review will be posted in the coming months (What’s Black About It? is slated to hit the stores in August).

The larger question revolves around the lack of Black-focused books for the industry. Perhaps it’s another reflection of the lack of diversity. On a related rant, are there any business books by Black authors with mass appeal?

As a public service, MultiCultClassics presents the handful of Black-focused ad books (by writers of all backgrounds) for your perusal:

• Fly In The Buttermilk by Archie Boston. This autobiographical account of a Black man in advertising is among the best of its kind — and maybe the only of its kind. The art director, designer and educator self-published his memoir, so do a google search to pick it up.

• Shopping For Identity by Marilyn Halter. This is a solid entry documenting multiple segments with perspectives on buying patterns and traditions.

• Shifting: The Double Lives Of Black Women In America by Charisse Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden. This is not directly related to advertising, but it’s a comprehensive study of contemporary Black women that could inspire relevant concepts.

• Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben And Rastus by Marilyn Kern-Foxworth. This one’s for the PBS crowd. It’s historical versus how-to, but an interesting read nonetheless.

• Black Working Wives and The New Black Middle Class by Bart Landry. These two books are not advertising related, but are indispensable for analysis and planning.

• Segmenting The Women’s Market by E. Janice Lemming and Cynthia Tripp. This covers women overall, with decent sections on Black women.

• Designing Across Cultures by Ronnie Lipton. This is worth checking out. The author interviewed people creating multicultural messages to collect insights and more. There are hefty chapters on the major segments, illustrated with produced samples.

• Black Picket Fences by Mary Pattillo-McCoy. This also is not directly related to advertising, but it’s perhaps the most thorough attempt to distinguish and define the Black middle-class.

• Multicultural Marketing by Marlene Rossman. This is an early exposition on the subject. It handles multiple segments, and the passages on Black consumers continue to ring true today.

• Multicultural Marketing by Alfred Schrieber. This is a respectable overview on multiple segments, not connected to the previous book with the same title.

A number of these books are out-of-print — but copies can usually be acquired via or

Additionally, there are scattered titles, primarily self-published, with extremely limited distribution. Yet nothing that comes close to the cult classics from Bernbach, Burnett, Caples, Cone, Della Femina, Dru, Ogilvy, Popcorn, Ries & Trout, Sullivan, et al. Besides the rare articles in trade magazines, literary Black representation is invisible, man.

Which speaks volumes on the status quo in the business world.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Essay Sixty-Eight

Random shots fired by MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Crain’s Chicago Business reported, “The Illinois Lottery ended its 2005 fiscal year with higher-than-ever sales and education contributions.” Figures for specific games increased up to 32% with an 8% lift for the amount of money the Lottery flows to public schools. If other advertising agencies servicing the Lottery received this news, they’d be showered with tremendous praise and respect. RJ Dale Advertising will probably get another audit and a grand jury subpoena.

• The judge in the Bill Cosby case won’t allow women testifying against the icon to conceal their identities. Right now, nine women have come forward and proclaimed Cosby sexually assaulted them in a style similar to the current alleged victim. Wonder how Cosby will spin this into his certain-Blacks-need-to-show-better-personal-responsibility lectures.

• Public outrage has prompted the Mexican postal service to not release more Memin Pinguin stamps. Of course, the stamp has already sold out. No word yet from Mexican President Vicente Fox, who had insisted his country cherishes the racist character. Fox is probably looking to incorporate Memin Pinguin onto the national flag.

• On a related note, Memin Pinguin is all the (out)rage on eBay, where sheets of stamps are priced as high as $1800. T-shirts, comics, toys and more are available too. Attention, KKKmart shoppers! There’s never been a better time to find the perfect gift for that special bigot in your life.

• In addition to declaring a mistrial in the Notorious B.I.G. wrongful death case, the judge ordered the City of Los Angeles and its police department to pay fees and costs incurred from the legal actions to the slain rap star’s family. The mistrial was called when the judge suspected the LAPD of deliberately withholding evidence. It’s hard to tell who are the real thugs and criminals in this scenario.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Essay Sixty-Seven

Courthouse grueling rulings brought to you by MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Lil’ Kim is going to the big house. A judge sentenced her to a year and a day for fibbing to a grand jury to protect pals involved in a 2001 shooting. Not sure what motivated a year and a day — seems like a sick lil’ joke.

• Slave descendants seeking reparations had their lawsuit dismissed by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Norgle. The judge proclaimed that while slavery sucked, seeking reparations “more than a century after the end of the Civil War and the formal abolition of slavery fails.” Norgle also said the plaintiffs didn’t prove personal injury from slavery, insisting genealogical ties to slaves aren’t enough to show injury, blah, blah, blah. OK, how about settling for a year and a day’s worth of reparations?

• A mistrial was declared in the Notorious B.I.G. wrongful death case, as the judge expressed concern that the LAPD deliberately withheld evidence. Hard to believe the cops did something naughty on purpose — maybe it accidentally slipped past because they were too busy beating Black motorists.

• Drug addict and notorious big asshole Rush Limbaugh is still stalling his court battles. Portions of his medical records were turned over to prosecutors for the investigation. But the junkie’s attorney retrieved certain documents containing privileged and potentially embarrassing information about treatment and symptoms not related to the probe — probably liposuction and erectile dysfunction procedures, accompanied by symptoms like drug-induced delusions of grandeur.

• In a bizarre twist, O.J. Simpson was viciously attacked by his girlfriend. Christie Prody, the girlfriend, denied the charges — and she vowed to launch a search for the real O.J. attacker.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Essay Sixty-Six

MultiCultClassics Minutes enjoys a Happy Meal with a Memin Pinguin surprise…

• Mickey D’s is huddling with culture and fashion icons to brainstorm new designs for its uniforms. The brainstormtroopers include Russell Simmons, P. Diddy and Tommy Hilfiger. A Mickey D’s representative said, “We’re looking at how do we make our uniforms more appealing, more desirable.” Here’s a suggestion: Make the job less of a dead end, demeaning, depressing, demoralizing, dogshit duty. Just a thought.

• It seems like only a few months ago Mickey D’s was huddling with rappers to brainstorm new lyrics for its Big Mac jingle. Oh, wait a minute. It was only a few months ago. Looks as if Ronald is a McWannabe.

• Over 1.3 billion offended. That’s the population of China, which Mickey D’s managed to upset with a commercial broadcast on Chinese TV. The ad depicted a man begging on his knees, which is considered a humiliating act. Following complaints, Mickey D’s apologized and pulled the Leo Burnett-created spot. Although most people worldwide are still awaiting an apology for the McGriddles® breakfast sandwich.

• Now a group of Black Mexicans is protesting the release of the infamous Memin Pinguin stamps, arguing the character is stereotypical and racist — plus, they’re demanding an apology from President Vicente Fox. Apparently, the comic book hero is not as widely cherished in Mexico as Fox believed. The group has quite a job to do in order to wrench a mea culpa from the president. There’s no doubt these Black Mexican men and women — full of dignity, willpower and a capacity for work — are doing the work that not even Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton want to do.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Essay Sixty-Five

Stating the obvious with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• A Chicago Tribune analysis revealed a relationship between student test scores and poverty. According to the analysis, middle-class Black students show great improvement when removed from high-poverty schools. It’s nice to see major city newspapers showcasing this kind of information. But geez, the dumbest kid from the highest poverty-stricken school could have presented the same conclusions.

• A New York Times story revealed federal spending for schools is increasing, but more low-income schools will actually receive less money than last year. Population shifts and increasing numbers of poor children means over two-thirds of the nation’s low-income schools won’t get as much financing as before. Somebody needs to review the Chicago Tribune analysis above — then redo the math on this budget plan.

• Mexican citizens lined up for hours at a time to purchase the infamous Memin Pinguin stamps, ultimately buying all 750,000 in two days. It’s unlikely most of these folks are diehard Memin Pinguin fans. Rather, they’re probably aware that sheets of the stamps are selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay. Maybe Mexican President Vicente Fox knew what he was doing all along when fueling the controversy by refusing to acknowledge any wrongdoing. Sparking a country’s economy via eBay seems to fit his style.

• Showtime is producing a new action-drama series called Sleeper Cell. The storyline features a bunch of Islamic terrorists, and the hero FBI agent is a Muslim. Should be interesting to see the public response. Then again, a show starring a Muslim character is actually less bizarre than a show with Bobby Brown.

• Despite all the debates and arguments surrounding replacement candidates for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, one name never seems to appear: Judge Joe Brown. What’s up with that?

Essay Sixty-Four

Over the past few weeks, the saga involving RJ Dale Advertising and the Illinois State Lottery account reached another milestone.

The latest audit of RJ Dale conducted by Governor Rod Blagojevich’s administration — which cost Illinois taxpayers $60,000 — uncovered no wrongdoing. No misuse of state funds. No covert accounting corruption. No unethical or immoral deeds. Nothing. Nada. Nil.

A Blagojevich spokesperson declared, “No improprieties have been found. Its ads are running, and the campaign is hugely successful, generating millions of dollars for the lottery and garnering national awards for its creative work.”

So what’s the catch? Well, RJ Dale’s accounting files remain somewhat messy. The ad shop failed to produce audited statements, canceled checks and other data. In fact, the special auditors viewed less information than expected, leading them to report, “Due to the insufficient reliable documentation and reconciliations of RJ Dale’s records, we have not been able to complete the objectives of this engagement.”

The special auditors instead focused on RJ Dale’s Lottery-related media activities and “did not find evidence of misuse or waste of the Department of Revenue’s funds.” Department of Revenue auditors studied a sampling of documents and arrived at the same verdict.

Based on the happy press releases and assorted proclamations, the Governor’s administration appears satisfied and ready to wholeheartedly support RJ Dale.

But it’s not over yet. An earlier review by the auditor general discovered RJ Dale didn’t have all the proper paperwork for over $2 million they had billed to the Lottery. Attorney General Lisa Madigan is investigating in this area.

Here’s a prediction on Madigan’s inevitable findings: Sloppy record-keeping with zero illegal activities.

Hey, MultiCultClassics won’t even charge taxpayers for the forecast.

The subjective truth is, RJ Dale probably needs to improve its organizational skills to stay in the big leagues. For a small- or medium-sized agency to control an account typically serviced by a huge agency demands serious revamping. And for a minority company to match the efforts of its White counterparts requires employing the proverbial “work ten times harder” formula.

Regardless, certain actions in this drama almost warrant being labeled as crimes.

RJ Dale’s image has been smeared. In this era of corporate shenanigans — as demonstrated by incidents like the recent Ogilvy & Mather billing scandal — clients steer away from suspicious vendors. It’s impossible to measure the extent of damage RJ Dale’s reputation has sustained.

Media personalities like Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lewis Lazare rushed to judgment, blowing things way out of proportion. Lazare went so far as to question Lottery Superintendent Carolyn Adam’s competence (a real cultural faux pas) and recommend RJ Dale resign the account. As expected, Lazare has not yet commented on the revelations in RJ Dale’s favor. But certain Black groups want to run Lazare out of town.

The Chicago Tribune, which has arguably done the most thorough investigative writing here, does not want to quit scrutinizing. Unfortunately, the Tribune’s perspectives have appeared semi-slanted against RJ Dale. It’s no coincidence that the publication maintains a highly conservative, exclusive personality — in other words, it’s the Whitest newspaper in the city. The chances of the Tribune completely comprehending the complexities of the situation are slim indeed. The paper even ran an editorial shortly after the last auditing results, criticizing nearly everyone and implying the presence of offenses (the unabridged editorial appears below).

RJ Dale insists being the victim of racial discrimination. Black legislators, business owners and the community at large tend to agree. Don’t count on the Governor’s administration or Attorney General Lisa Madigan to check out these accusations in the immediate or distant future. Nobody’s confessing if biased backroom politics took place, whether governmental or professional.

Perhaps other advertising agencies were being sneaky too, playing nasty to discredit RJ Dale. It would be interesting to see how DDB, the shop that previously handled the Lottery account, might fare under the same microscope. Giant advertising agencies are notorious for excessive and questionable invoicing. Did DDB undergo multiple audits during its tour of duty? If not, why?

The advertising industry continues to struggle in recruiting minorities. This sorry scenario surely won’t encourage prospective candidates to seek careers in the field. If anything, it confirms the business remains a minority-unfriendly environment.


Here’s the Chicago Tribune editorial…

Gambling with taxpayers’ money

Published June 25, 2005

It was nice to hear from Illinois Lottery Supt. Carolyn Adams the other day, even if only in a press release from the controversial Chicago ad agency she hired for big bucks to promote the state-run games of chance.

Adams’ message? The R.J. Dale ad firm is doing a great job.

Adams may be talking to R.J. Dale about R.J. Dale, but she’s no media chatterbox. She hasn’t surfaced in recent weeks to publicly address nagging questions about the firm.

R.J. Dale has been paid more than $2 million by Adams’ lottery for work it has had trouble documenting. Questions about the firm’s billings were first raised last year by internal auditors, then by Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s inspector general, then by the state’s auditor general. Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan is now investigating.

Another puzzler is why lottery officials were in such a rush last year to make R.J. Dale their chief ad agency and shower it with a multimillion-dollar no-bid contract, when they knew it was under financial stress.

R.J. Dale had already been doing some work for the lottery, and lottery officials had signed off on an agreement to pay R.J. Dale’s clients through an escrow account rather than let the firm pay directly. The agreement declared the account was needed because R.J. Dale was “experiencing difficulties managing the payment of its debts and other obligations as they become due.”

So we have a company with a shaky financial record handed more responsibility to spend taxpayer dollars, only later to come under the spotlight of state financial snoops for suspect billing.

The state just got back results of yet another audit and the administration is hailing it as vindication for R.J. Dale. It’s a strangely myopic interpretation. The auditors said they couldn’t find evidence the firm misused or wasted taxpayer money, but the firm’s record-keeping was so skimpy that it failed repeated requests to turn over sufficient documentation to determine one way or another whether something was fishy.

The lottery flap fits into what seems to be an emerging pattern of lax administration oversight of important and expensive state contracts. That includes a $30 million deal Blagojevich reluctantly yanked a few weeks ago from a group of politically connected consultants who were hired to devise ways to save the state money. Auditor General William Holland found very little savings but a lot of tax money spent on parties and entertainment. He referred that contract to Madigan for investigation as well.

Unfortunately, the lottery controversy has become infused with questions of race. R.J. Dale is the first African-American-owned firm to hold the lottery’s main advertising account. The firm’s owner and his defenders, including some black state lawmakers, insist it has done nothing wrong and has been singled out because it is minority-led. The allegations persist even though Inspector General Zaldwaynaka Scott, whose investigation propelled the controversy, is black.

Race isn’t the issue here. Fiscal accountability is. When the state hires a company to do a job, it requires evidence to prove the job was done. R.J. Dale’s apparent inability to do that to the satisfaction of a range of investigators over a very long period of time is the sole reason it faces continued scrutiny.

Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

Monday, July 04, 2005

Essay Sixty-Three

Get out of the car with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Additional statistics released from Illinois show minorities are more likely to have their cars searched during traffic stops. Earlier data revealed minorities — particularly Black drivers — are more likely to be pulled over. At this rate, the next research will expose minorities are beaten and tortured more often for routine auto violations. In the end, it’s a strong argument for using public transportation in the Land of Lincoln.

• Arguments from lawyers for R. Kelly have succeeded in postponing his trial date until fall. Kelly is facing charges of child pornography for an infamous video depicting the artist engaging in sex acts with a minor. At this pace, by the time the trial takes place, the minor will be a senior. In the meantime, Kelly would be wise to avoid driving in Illinois — who knows what police might discover in his trunk.

• It started as a routine violation of good taste and common sense, but now ABC has pulled over its reality series “Welcome to the Neighborhood” after mounting pressure from numerous advocacy groups. The show featured a bunch of white suburbanites trying to choose their neighbors. The pool of candidates included people of diverse backgrounds and lifestyles. ABC feared the first episodes portrayed the white suburbanites as highly intolerant of strangers. It’s more proof that “reality TV” is an oxymoron — and most network executives are just morons.

• Venus Williams still has plenty in her tank, driving to her second Wimbledon championship. The record-breaking match was a grueling performance, although not nearly as grueling as watching Williams’ performances in corny and contrived McDonald’s ads over the years.

• After reviewing the videotaped collision between a cameraman and Texas Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers, here’s the MultiCultClassics verdict: Kenny Rogers is no Ron Artest.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Essay Sixty-Two

Special delivery for MultiCultClassics readers — here’s a follow-up to Essay Sixty.

In a totally predictable move, Mexican President Vicente Fox gave his wholehearted stamp of approval to the postage designs showcasing the big-lipped, bug-eyed Memin Pinguin comic book character. Fox went on to rave Memin Pinguin “is an image in a comic that I have known since infancy … It is cherished here in Mexico.”

To be honest, almost every country on Earth — including the good ol’ U.S.A. — creates questionable comic books and fictional figures. So Mexico is hardly unique or original in this prickly area. But to present this stuff on government-sanctioned material is a whole other story — especially when it may literally travel throughout the civilized planet.

Displaying nearly the same befuddled response he had to the outrage sparked by his earlier comments about U.S. Blacks, Fox said, “Frankly, I don’t understand the reaction. Let’s hope they inform themselves ... and later form an opinion.”

By his own arrogant admission, Fox just doesn’t get it. And his ignorance — whether real or calculated — makes him look as cartoonish as the characters he now praises. This guy may represent uncharted territory for the reprogramming tactics of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

Vicente Fox is no Memin Pinguin — that is, he’s not a buffoon. His published biographies offer conflicting details, but usually start by highlighting his connection with Coca-Cola, where he rose from a delivery supervisor to company president. He then moved to politics, serving in his country’s Congress and later becoming the Governor of Guanajuato. In 2000, Fox was elected President of Mexico.

However, Fox has shown his insensitive side before. During his presidential campaign, he called one competitor a sissy and transvestite. He also used a banner of the Virgin of Guadeloupe, a very sacred symbol among Hispanics, to allegedly flaunt his Catholicism at a political rally. In short, this hombre is not afraid of ruffling feathers. Or being a bigot.

Fox and his supporters argue his U.S. Blacks commentary, and the creation and adoration of Memin Pinguin, are purely cultural thangs. Hispanics simply view racial issues differently than the rest of us. Perhaps this is true. Or perhaps the entire country is suffering from Passive Bias (see Essay One for the explanation of this term). Regardless, there appears to be a disturbing similarity between Hispanics and U.S Blacks regarding feelings about skin tones. The beauty standards and stereotypes definitely skew Eurocentric versus Afrocentric. Denying this would be a bald-faced — or Black-faced — lie.

Fox suggests everyone get informed before proclaiming judgments. El Presidente should follow his own sage advice. Let’s hope Fox and his supporters inform themselves about racial attitudes and stereotypes from perspectives beyond their own. It’s one thing to have in-jokes among neighbors and citizens. Sharing the gags with outsiders may generate contrasting comebacks.

The advertising industry offers infinite examples of this insight. Slogans, messages and concepts have entirely diverse meanings to separate audiences. Additionally, when successful marketers do business with foreign lands — or even localized multicultural segments — great care is taken to recognize distinct nuances and traditions. In layperson’s terms, if you want me to respect you, you’ve got to respect me. (At this point, Aretha Franklin music should kick in.)

For U.S. folks to remain true to their beliefs, Memin Pinguin must be accepted as demonstrating freedom of expression and freedom of speech. But Fox and his supporters should not be so naïve to think everyone will join the fiesta. The rights of freedom come with options to debate and protest — plus, certain levels of social responsibility. That’s what makes it all so damned fun and entertaining.

Finally, here’s some free guidance for Mexican President Vicente Fox: If you seriously hope to bring your country to the global stage, stop being so ghetto.