Monday, October 31, 2005

Essay 212

The article below appeared in the latest issue of Newsweek. Categorize it as a bad idea gone horribly wrong…


Race: The White Album

Nov. 7, 2005 issue – It’s not easy being white. Ask Lamb and Lynx Gaede — 13-year-old twins who make up the “defensive racist” pop-music duo Prussian Blue. The blond-haired, blue-eyed sisters went into hiding last week. An ABC News camera crew spent several days shadowing the girls as they sang (sample lyric: “Aryan man awake, How much more will you take, Turn that fear to hate, Aryan man awake”) and urged white people not to mix with other races.

White supremacists hoped the attention would help the Bakersfield, Calif., duo cross over to mainstream audiences. Prussian Blue, wrote National Vanguard, a sympathetic publication, “will be breaking new ground ... creating an entire genre of pro-White music.” But after the TV segment — and an outpouring of criticism — “the girls were in tears. This is going to follow them for the rest of their lives,” says Edgar Steele, the sisters’ attorney. Now, he says, the sisters “are living in an undisclosed location and there will be no personal appearances until this thing is long blown over.” Still, the girls have sold several thousand copies of their first album, “Fragment of the Future,” and a second is due out in a few months.

—Jennifer Ordonez

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

Essay 211

Boo-yah! It’s Halloween tricks and treats with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• A report on CBS’ 60 Minutes detailed the new discrimination that employers are legally permitted to display. Specifically, some bosses are firing folks for smoking — even if they’re only puffing cigarettes at home. Others require employees to maintain a certain percentage of body fat. It’s totally legal if you’re living in an “employment at will” state. This is really bad news for obese, Black, female Marlboro addicts.

• Lil’ Kim is making the most of her time in the pen by penning lyrics, creating rhymes about her incarceration. Martha Stewart left prison and went straight to network TV. Lil’ Kim may ultimately turn perjury to platinum.

• Empty Gesture of the Month: In order to address the child obesity epidemic, Kraft Foods will ban some of its own advertising directed at kids. However, the company has no intention of reducing production and sales of its tubby-inducing, food-like offerings. Talk about having your cake and forcing chilluns to eat it too. New tagline suggestion: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese — It’s the Sleaziest!

• Speaking of sleazy, Bill O’Reilly went on a new rant, blasting schools that considered closing during Muslim holidays. “So a Muslim wanted a Muslim holiday, which is absurd in a Judeo-Christian country. I mean, we can’t be having Hindu and Buddha. I mean, come on. I mean, this country is founded on Judeo-Christian traditions,” raved O’Reilly. And exactly which Judeo-Christian tradition was the man following when suggesting obscene uses for a loofa to a former employee?

• After carefully considering minority and female Supreme Court candidates — and even failing in his bid to win approval for Harriet Miers — President Bush settled on an Old White Man. In order to silence critics, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. should be required to perform his duties in Blackface and drag.

Welcome, New and Old Readers.

Welcome to

The blog launched in March 2005. The initial goal was to spark discussions and debates about multiculturalism in the advertising industry — including all the good, bad and ugly complexities and contradictions.

Admittedly, there wasn’t a master plan or long-term strategy. Just decided to begin typing and see where it might go.

Many essays and months later, the plan is no clearer. The strategy is being reworked daily too.

Nonetheless, the conversation continues — despite the fact that it’s more of a monologue versus dialogue.

Here’s what offers you:

If you’re deep into the multicultural advertising scene, this is the place for relatable, relevant insights and more. It’s all the stuff you’d toss around the virtual water cooler.

If you’re semi-clueless to the world outside of your personal universe, this is the place for you as well. One deliberate tactic here is to expose the masses to progressive, 21st century diversity. It’s not something exclusive to the human resources department. Think of the blog as delivering a recommended daily allowance of culture.

Please read the blog starting at Essay One. You’re encouraged to agree or disagree with anything posted.

Please visit often. Admission is free. Open to the public 24 hours a day.

Finally, please share the blog with everyone you know. It works best with an inclusive spirit.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Essay 210

Turning back the clock with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• A proposal to create state border police led to current police facing off with conflicting demonstrations in Sacramento. On one side, about 300 came to hear politicians and others persuading folks to support ballot petitions. On the other side, about 700 protested the initiatives and denounced the infamous Minutemen. Stuck in the middle were about 24 cops, who ultimately made three arrests. Forget state border police. California needs to beef up its law enforcement just to deal with immigration-related rallies.

• “My optimistic idea of racial unity has been shattered by a group of ignorant individuals…It is a shame we can’t get past the racial stereotypes and barriers,” said the victim of the infamous baseball bat attack in Howard Beach. A lawyer for one of the attackers countered, “It’s nice for him to say we should live in a society where everyone gets along, but it would have also been nice if he’d mentioned that he was in Howard Beach that night for the purpose of committing a crime. He was there to steal.”

• Got Game? The cops in North Carolina do — literally. They booked rapper The Game for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, even zapping his crew with pepper spray. “It’s unfair, man. [The cops’] behavior’s unfair," insisted The Game. “Soon as I wake up in the morning, I’ll be on the phone with my lawyers.” Sounds like fun and games.

• Adman Ernie Schenck initiated an online discussion about the controversial 50 Cent billboards in California. Click on the essay title and check it out.

Essay 209

The Neil French debacle has inspired a lot of comments, mostly pretty lousy. But the comment below appeared on, and it’s pretty damn brilliant…


Neil French simply held the white male dominant hierarchy yardstick up to measure women's performance, and, to no one’s surprise, women came up short. However, the dominant culture has yet to be held to an increasingly strong alternate yardstick — that of women, and non-white males. Having been born with the silver spoon of getting jobs and promotions based almost entirely on their anatomy, and the fact that white men have abdicated any responsibility for the many other things that make this world go round for the rest of us (children, and by extension one’s sense of community) they have been free to focus solely on their interest — in most cases, their career. Consequently, over the several centuries of their hegemony, they have done this very well. Unfortunately, today, being singularly focused borders on the myopic. Women and minorities have spent 2000 years multi-tasking. The reason Mr. French thinks that you have to give 100% to the job at all times is because HE has to, in order to stay focused and therefore successful. Really, white men have little practice at juggling multiple and conflicting demands, and being the dominant culture, since they can’t do it, well, it can’t be done, right? Lacking such ability, which ultimately broadens and enhances one perspective — it’s not just about YOU, it’s about you and everyone else affected — means they tend to see things in a very black/white, linear way. It’s not very creative actually. But it’s been good enough all this time because everyone else (women, minorities) have been excluded from the playing field. While that change is slow to come, it is absolutely coming — Mr. French and his ilk are the last dying bleat of bloated ego that may be starting to recognize their power base is slipping away, and they are going to do everything they can to hold it. Hence all these arguments about how we take time out for children, therefore are less competent. What twaddle. We take time to invest in children and community, and are therefore MORE competent — more balanced, and we are creating a world that reflects that, for women and those men who see that ‘their’ way isn’t so perfect after all, and perhaps could use the input of women to make it more fulfilling.

Posted by: Kalli on October 29, 2005 03:40 PM

Essay 208

Here’s an insightful report that appeared in The Washington Post…


Office Stereotyping and How It Stifles

By Amy Joyce
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 30, 2005

A few weeks ago, Neil French, a well-known advertising executive, told 300 people that women “don’t make it to the top because they don’t deserve to.” He elaborated, saying that women are apt to “wimp out and go suckle something.”

Just about the same time, a new survey announced that gender stereotypes still exist in the workplace.

Well, duh.

Of course they do. But when comments such as French’s become public, it’s easy to still be surprised and to think: “Is this really 2005?”

It is, and gender stereotypers is who we are. Men and women both.

According to a study released this month by the women’s research and advocacy organization Catalyst, men consider women to be less adept at problem-solving. That sort of skill is, of course, pretty necessary to be an effective leader. And since men continue to sit in most chief executive spots throughout the country, any “male-held” stereotype will only continue to be in place, the study points out.

Stereotyping is a major reason “behind the gender gap in leadership,” said Ilene H. Lang, president of Catalyst. The data, she said, “points a finger directly at problem-solving, which is a key leadership behavior. Senior men perceive that women are not as good problem-solvers as men.”

Which is, for women and those men who care to see women in top positions, a problem.

Catalyst’s study asked senior-level executives to rate the effectiveness of women and then men leaders on 10 key leadership behaviors.

The study found that both men and women viewed women as better at stereotypically feminine caretaking skills, such as supporting and rewarding. And both genders said men excel at more conventionally masculine taking-charge skills, such as influencing superiors and delegating responsibility.

In other words, men run the organization and women support them. That’s just the way most of us still think, right?

But why, after all this time, and after all these years of listening to the facts and figures about the lack of women in top positions, are we still putting women in their stereotypical places?

“I think the laws have been won. Legally, we almost have it all,” said Alison Stein, project director of the Younger Women’s Task Force at the National Council of Women’s Organizations.

But, she said, those laws don’t change the subtle discrimination that women face in the workplace.

That could be partly because women are shown falling into these stereotypes in life outside the office, too.

If a woman and man have a child, the school still often asks for the mother’s name as caretaker. Check out any commercial for cleaning supplies: It’s the woman doing the vacuuming. (Sorry, Mom, but that’s not the case in my house.)

A commercial for child’s cough medicine? It’s the mom tending to the child, bedside, in the middle of the night.

But in reality, it’s increasingly both parents who do the day-care picking up, the cooking and the cleaning. Generation X fathers are asking to leave work early to hit their children’s soccer games, and an increasing number of married women are the sole breadwinners. (Even one of the main characters on the popular television show “Desperate Housewives” went off to work this season as her husband decided to stay at home with the kids.)

In recent years, a notable number of Gen X women (who have been told by their mother’s generation they can have it all) opted out of the workforce to raise a child. But considering the fact that gender stereotypes are still so prevalent in the workplace, researchers and women’s advocates question the reasons some (of course not all) of the working women decide to stay home full time.

“You have to ask yourself, if that many women are choosing to do that, is it really a choice?” Stein said.

One has to wonder, indeed.

The fact is, women hold 50.3 percent of all management and professional positions. But only 7.9 percent of Fortune 500 top earners and 1.4 percent of Fortune 500 chief executives are women.

Is that because women aren’t ambitious or willing and eager to take over the top spots? Or is it because they aren’t groomed for positions beyond middle management or human resources or other “typically female” jobs because they are the caregivers of the office, not the leaders?

During the data-collecting process of the Catalyst study, the head researcher discussed the report with a few chief executives. One told the researcher that he thought the idea of diversity or inclusion was to bring someone different to the team or table. So, he proudly told the researcher, he liked to hire women because they are better at team-building and supporting.

The researcher pointed out that was exactly the kind of stereotyping that stops female advancement, even though that was not his intent. “Diversity and inclusion are important, but don’t presuppose what they are going to bring,” she told him. “Bring them in because of them, not because of assumptions about what they might be good at.”

Or not good at, as far as people such as French (who has since resigned from his job at WPP Group) are concerned.

“I think he is a walking example of the kind of stereotyping we’re talking about,” Lang said. “He’s saying because women are mothers, they can’t be good leaders. And we know from all our research, that’s just not the case. Women are ambitious, just as ambitious as men.”

Forget the research. Just ask the woman sitting next to you what she expects out of her work life. It might be a little enlightening for all of us.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Essay 207

Seemingly downplayed MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Seemingly downplayed amid the celebration of a long-awaited World Series title: the Chicago White Sox were led by a general manager who happens to be Black and a manager who happens to be Venezuelan — plus, a Jewish owner. Congratulations to Ken Williams, Ozzie Guillen, Jerry Reinsdorf and the Chicago White Sox. The team’s phenomenal achievement is extraordinary on so many levels.

• Seemingly downplayed amid the protests of billboards for the upcoming 50 Cent movie: the activist groups’ efforts actually counteract their true goal. That is, the furious protests are free publicity for the movie. No one sees it more clearly than 50 Cent. “I do appreciate it,” the rapper said. “They are talking about it on media outlets I didn’t have plans to market the movie to. They are helping me out.” Not that the man needs any help. Although it will be interesting to see if the public is still intrigued after the parade or “hip-hopumentaries” that include 8 Mile, Tupac Resurrection and even Hustle & Flow.

• Seemingly downplayed amid the nearly endless courtroom dramas involving Black celebrities: R. Kelly may have to stand before a jury after all. A judge nixed the request to dismiss the child pornography charges based on the prosecutors’ inability to completely pinpoint the time when the infamous video was produced. So it looks like the artist won’t soon be singing, “I believe I can fly.”

• Seemingly downplayed amid the controversies surrounding illegal immigration in the United States: Mexicans are moving even further north to Canada. So far, the official responses are not as negative in Canada versus the U.S. The Canadians seem to welcome diversity if it leads to a better economy and society. But it’s going to get complicated during opening ceremonies at sports events when someone has to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “O Canada” and “Mexicanos, al grito de guerra.”

• Seemingly downplayed amid all the news of the day: Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Northeast Ohio were recognized for their efforts and commitment. Kudos to Big Brother of the Year Robert Jones of Ashtabula, Big Sister of the Year Nikki Gorfido of Painesville and Board Member of the Year Lora Stalnaker of Madison. These individuals are the real heroes in society.

• Seemingly downplayed amid all the news of the day too: Jay-Z and Nas have quit feuding, rhyming together in bipartisan rap fashion at a New Jersey concert. Who. Gives. A. Shit.

Essay 206

Not exactly sure how to react to this, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless. The event happened in Cleveland, and the story below appeared in The Plain Dealer.


Lesson on prejudice gets mixed response
Exhibit causes shock, second thoughts, apathy

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Ellen Jan Kleinerman
Plain Dealer Reporter

Some St. Ignatius students were stunned while others giggled during their first look at the high school’s power-of-words art exhibit — laced with ethnic, sexual and racial slurs. But students at the Catholic boys school said this week that the display ignited frank discussions about prejudice.

“Honkie,” “Grease Monkey,” “Slut,” “Retard” and the “n-word” were displayed on signs in the Atrium along with words like “Love” and “Honey.” In the back was a large sign that read “Cockroach,” a term used to demean members of the Tutsi tribe in Rwanda.

The five-day exhibit opened at the Cleveland school on Oct. 17, several days after Paul Rusesabagina, the inspiration for the movie “Hotel Rwanda,” spoke on campus about genocide in his country and the responsibility of each person to stop prejudice. An in-class discussion and all-school debate followed Thursday.

The goal was to demonstrate how words perpetuate racism, sexism and other prejudice. Though some students argued the surprise was part of the design, others interviewed by The Plain Dealer said they should have been better prepared for the exhibit.

Senior Justin Morrow, who is black, said initially that he was shocked, hurt and angered. “It was kind of sprung on us,” the 18-year-old said.

He was so uncomfortable with signs like “Porch Monkey” that he avoided the Atrium. After class discussions, he said he now supports the exhibit because “it’s a good idea to openly talk about prejudice.”

Connor Flanagan, 16, said hearing personal stories from people who have experienced prejudice is a much more effective way to fight prejudice.

But Jaime DeVore, 18, who is multiracial, said the exhibit “was ridiculous and unnecessary” and didn’t give students enough credit for knowing the impact of taboo words.

Everyone knows that teenagers joke around and use words like “bitch” or “slut” or call each other names like “gay” or “retard,” other students said.

“Society is so jaded to some words. They become cutesy,” said Vasyl Rabosyuk, 16. The exhibit made him realize that words can hurt a “third party” who may overhear a conversation.

Kellen Krause, 17, said artwork in the display exaggerated stereotypes, like “Red Neck” written over a drawing of a person with a sunburned neck. “It was so ludicrous that you had to know it wasn’t true.”

As shocking as the exhibit was to some, Luke Krevh, 17, wondered about its lasting effect. “Some people are in a routine and don’t even know they use those words. After a few weeks, everyone could forget.”

Still, Luke and Connor agreed that students must make a commitment not to use offensive words and object when others do.

Luke added: “The more you hear, the more it’s drilled in your head, the more you realize that it’s wrong and hurtful.”

History teacher Tim Evans said the events are part of a five-year plan to raise awareness about prejudice. About 10 percent of the school’s students are minorities.

© 2005 The Plain Dealer
© 2005 All Rights Reserved.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Essay 205

Out and about with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Mr. Sulu of Star Trek fame transported out of the closet. Actor George Takei has spoken out on his homosexuality, even comparing anti-gay bias to racial segregation. Damn, can’t he just compare it to Romulan segregation?

• Basketball superstar Sheryl Swoopes jumped out of the closet too. Wow. There are lesbians in the WNBA. Never would have guessed.

• Due to public protests, Paramount Pictures will remove some of the billboards hyping the upcoming 50 Cent movie, “Get Rich or Die Tryin.’” In the end, protesters will die tryin’ to prevent movie moguls and 50 Cent from getting rich.

• Political advertising continues to push the boundaries of good taste. A Detroit newspaper ad supporting Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s re-election bid shows black corpses hanging from trees — in reference to Kilpatrick’s contention that he’s been “lynched” in the media. “I have not got one call from a subscriber or a reader who complained about that ad,” insisted the co-publisher of the newspaper. “Not one letter or e-mail.” Guess no complaints justify obscenity.

• Descendants of slave owners in Barbados marched with chains on their wrists and wooden yokes around their necks as part of a symbolic plea for forgiveness. “For 200 years...British descendants committed unspeakable crimes against people of African descent,” a marcher said. “We are in a small way apologizing.” Guess symbolic gestures justify obscenity.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Essay 204

MultiCultClassics Minutes asks, “Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”

• Janet Jackson officially denied she has a secret 18-year-old daughter. “I do not have a child and all allegations saying so are false,” Jackson stated in a press release. However, the singer did not deny her multiple plastic surgeries, breast enhancements or rib removals. Tito Jackson added his own denial by saying, “I do not have a nephew or niece or whatever it is that’s being said right now…I’m pretty sure it bothered her a little bit, but she’s going to go on and be strong like Janet always is...She’ll be OK.” Janet later denied having a brother named Tito. Finally, a video clip began appearing on the Web that exposed Janet sunbathing in the nude. Justin Timberlake denied any involvement.

• Now cops are wondering about Cam’ron’s alleged carjacking incident, which left the rapper with bullet wounds in both arms. Authorities are investigating alternative theories — including an attempted execution, simple road rage or the desire to increase sales of an upcoming album.

• 50 Cent drew protests over billboards hyping his upcoming movie. The posted images depict 50 Cent holding a gun. At this point, why would anyone be shocked that the rapper likes firearms? Authorities ought to investigate if 50 Cent was involved in the shooting of Cam’ron — and even the shooting of the Janet Jackson sunbathing video.

• A Citigroup executive claimed he was being demoted in retaliation for griping about racial and sex discrimination, so now he’s suing the banking company for $100 million. Talk about taking the “live richly” tagline to the extreme.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Essay 203

Pre-Halloween scary news from MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Mickey D’s plans to print nutritional information on its packaging. Company officials are scrambling to find nutritional value in any McProducts.

• There’s news of another cop beating in Florida caught on videotape. Except it involved a special agent from immigration and customs enforcement. And he was beating himself, so to speak. The agent was arrested for exposing himself and masturbating for 10 minutes in the direction of a teen in a shopping mall food court. Security cameras captured the beating, and the spectacle will undoubtedly be available on the Web shortly.

• Cops in New Orleans have admitted to taking Cadillacs from a car dealership during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. But they insisted it wasn’t looting, as they were patrolling in the vehicles. Right. Guess the Kia dealership just couldn’t meet the officers’ professional standards.

• Ohio legislators have proposed a deportation law targeting illegal immigrants. Residents are shocked by the dramatic increase in the Hispanic population over the past decade. Non-residents are shocked that anyone would want to move to Ohio.

• Fisher DeBerry, football coach for the Air Force, was reprimanded over his comments about Black athletes. DeBerry stated, “African-American kids can run very well. That doesn’t mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can’t run, but it’s very obvious to me that they run extremely well.” Most African-American kids probably run away from DeBerry. Extremely well.

Essay 202

The Neil French debacle overshadowed a recent Adweek cover story (October 17, 2005 issue). The report was titled, “Does Sex Really Sell? Survey explores how men and women look at sexually charged ads.” Can’t help but think the survey accidentally demonstrated the gender differences and cluelessness that continue to create problems in the business. In fact, it would be interesting to get French’s opinion on this topic.

MediaAnalyzer Software & Research in Massachusetts conducted the survey in order to examine how men and women view and react to sexually themed ads. One section of the study tracked respondents’ visual behavior while viewing pairs of ads from five categories — with each pair consisting of a sexual and nonsexual ad. The specific methodology and results are almost irrelevant. The experiment itself raised questions.

The sexual ads depicted a variety of scantily clad women in provocative positions. But the nonsexual ads were semi-sexy too. One nonsexual Skechers ad showcased the model-like Carrie Underwood surrounded by adoring men presenting shoes like the Prince in Cinderella. Other nonsexual ads depicted a leggy woman and a semi-romantic couple — and another nonsexual ad featured a football with props which skewed totally male. Of course, White people starred in the layouts. Plus, the ads were sexual from a heterosexual male perspective. Why didn’t the women in the study scan ads featuring Fabio-type hunks? In short, the men viewed sexual ads, while the women viewed sexist ads.

It’s not clear how or why MediaAnalyzer chose the ads for the study. But it’s highly likely that the researchers were primarily White males.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Essay 201

Tuesday Twilight MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• In light of the Neil French debacle, it’s interesting to note a report regarding WPP Group Chief Executive Martin Sorrell. Seems Sorrell has split with his wife of 32 years — and the divorce settlement cost him $51.5 million. Raising kids might make you a crappy creative director, but the in case of Mrs. Sorrell, it can still be highly profitable and rewarding.

• The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps aren’t satisfied merely watching guard over the U.S.-Mexican border. Now the group is patrolling the Canadian border too. The controversial volunteers are determined to stop the threat of illegal immigrants. Wonder when they’ll set up stations in Alaska and Hawaii.

• The final battle is underway in Ohio between Statehouse lobbyists and adult clubs. Legislation has been designed to strip the joints of their entertainment value, including rules that would force dancers to stay six feet away from gentlemen. The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps will probably volunteer to enforce the new laws.

• A fashion event in Chelsea’s Sapa restaurant got ugly when the owner nixed the show four hours before its scheduled start time. The mostly Black and Hispanic models were run off the runway by the allegedly racist restaurateur who called them “ghetto trash.” Owner Brian Matzkow denies mouthing the remark, although a handful of witnesses say otherwise. Maybe Matzkow said their gear was “ghetto fab.”

• Looks like we may never know exactly what Neil French said on the infamous night in Toronto. The organization behind the soiree, ihaveanidea, has opted not to release the commemorative DVD. Rumors claim lawyers for French and Ogilvy & Mather are blocking any attempt to publicize things further. What a bunch of crap.

Essay 200 dedicated to Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

Click on the essay title and spend a few moments reflecting on history.

Essay 199

Adweek presented a semi-decent report on the Neil French debacle. The quote from Rick Boyko was long overdue; but ultimately, it leaves much to be desired. Boyko admits there’s a problem in the industry, but it’s not clear he really gets it. Donny Deutsch appears to have a clue on the topic — plus, he deserves credit for being one of the few male leaders willing to comment at all. The report appears below.


French Saga Stirs Debate
October 24, 2005
By Kathleen Sampey and Noreen O’Leary

NEW YORK For those attending the now-infamous Oct. 6 Neil French event in Toronto, their first glimpse of the setting might have suggested what was about to transpire: The stage of the John Bassett Theatre was set up as a kind of Canadian hunting cabin, complete with a stuffed beaver, moose antlers, oil lamps, duck decoys—the kind of place where men will be men, and French’s maid, with long legs, tiny skirt and a subservient lace apron, knew when to serve them more drinks.

Astonishingly, this scene was underwritten, in part, by Ogilvy & Mather, one of the sponsors of the evening and the agency where French became worldwide creative director in 1997 before taking on a larger global role with Ogilvy parent WPP Group in 2002.

As is well-known now, the chummy session, which included Rick Boyko, former creative director of Ogilvy in New York, would alienate some in the audience that night, when French explained that there aren’t more female creative directors because they’re “crap.” (Two global WPP agencies, Ogilvy & Mather and Young & Rubicam, however, have female CEOs.)

French resigned last week after the incident, though he stands by his remarks, which were in response to a question from an audience member. (Even in apparent retreat, French was true to his bombastic reputation, saying he didn’t want WPP and CEO Martin Sorrell—who he described as the “little chap” and “poor devil”—to be burdened with the controversy surrounding his remarks.)

While WPP had previously trumpeted French’s accomplishments, it distanced itself last week, characterizing him as a part-time consultant. The Internet and the general media have sizzled over French’s non-PC stance all last week, but it took WPP until last Friday to disavow his view as being “inconsistent” with company policy in a statement it issued.

Still, industry observers welcomed French’s unleashing of another round of debate about sexism in advertising. Despite his delivery, the reality is that there is still a glass ceiling for women in the business, in particular in the creative departments.

“It’s a very complicated subject,” said Joyce King Thomas, chief creative officer of McCann Erickson, New York. “There is still sexism in the business, [in part] because the popular voice of advertising is masculine. The most-awarded voice is masculine. Men, at one point, had the purchasing power and it evolved that men spoke to men.”

Although the creative ranks are becoming more gender-balanced, of the 33 nationally ranked agencies, only four have women running the creative departments of flagship offices: IPG’s McCann (King Thomas) and Deutsch (Kathy Delaney); Publicis’ Leo Burnett (Cheryl Berman) and The Kaplan Thaler Group (Linda Kaplan Thaler).

Women are also scarce when it comes to recognition. This week, Diane Rothschild will be the fourth woman inducted into The One Club Hall of Fame since its inception in 1961, and the first female since 1974, when it honored Shirley Polykoff. The latter also holds the dubious distinction of being the only woman of 49 people inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame.

But those numbers are “a reflection of the reality of the industry, not the [clubs],” Rothschild said last week.

Many industry executives consider French a dinosaur in today’s business world, but said he unwittingly shined a spotlight on a recurring issue that still needs to be addressed.

Some say (as French did, albeit crudely) that women are more tethered by the demands of child-rearing than men, and that’s what holds them back.

Others, such as Marcio Moreira, a former worldwide creative director who now runs HR for McCann, said women are rising in creative departments at a pace consistent with changing social mores. Twenty-five years ago, when women married or gave birth, “they dropped the job,” and co-workers expected as much, he said. Now, companies are working to accommodate the needs of employees with children, he said.

Boyko is a close friend of French’s and was onstage during his comments. He described the incident as “Neil doing what he does,” but as the father of three daughters, Boyko remains concerned about the lack of female creative leaders and of ethnic diversity in the industry. “Neil’s answer may have been inappropriate,” he said, “but in the end, the problem is there.”

He expressed optimism that the situation may get better based on the number of women who enrolled this year at VCU Adcenter, where he is managing director. Boyko said 49 percent of the students this year are women.

Deutsch chairman Donny Deutsch said that the reason so few women ascend in the creative ranks is very simple: “There’s still a lot of sexism in advertising.” If agencies would just “run meritocracies, everything will take care of itself,” he said.

Berman agreed, saying many shops simply aren’t willing to give women as much of a chance as they do men. “The whole business needs to look at itself,” she said. “Women are making 85 percent of all purchase decisions. I’m finding more of our clients are women. I think the agencies are behind on this.”

King Thomas, 49, who succeeded Nina DiSesa as chief creative of McCann New York last year, has two teenagers and returned to work just weeks after each one’s birth. She said many agencies are already meritocracies, pointing out that women make up more than 40 percent of her department. She got the top job after 10 years at the agency, she said, because “I worked my ass off.”

Carol Evans, board president of Advertising Women of New York, said the organization is analyzing a survey it conducted of 1,000 ad professionals regarding all of these issues because the AWNY still sees “major barriers in our industry for women getting ahead and for mothers getting ahead.”

“The creative area is very tough, and it’s been very tough,” Evans said. “I don’t know why that is, but I know that it’s not because of talent.” 

Ann Hayden, worldwide cd on General Mills at Publicis’ Saatchi & Saatchi in New York, was one of just four female judges among 20 on the Cannes film jury this year. Yet she was encouraged by the diversity of the approaches that won awards. “That ad-guy sensibility,” which she described as a masculine tonality, is “not there in the same way it used to be.”

The silver lining of French’s comments is that it “forces people to talk about stuff like this,” she said. After 20 years in the industry, “you get tired of talking about it, but it’s important.”

—with Adweek staff reports

Essay 198

More Monday Night MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Most wouldn’t label Eminem a wannabe. But some folks are claiming the new iPod spot featuring the rapper is a rip-off of a 2002 Lugz commercial. Or maybe hip-hop has become a cliché in the ad business.

• What’s your rap IQ? Potential jurors are being quizzed for the upcoming Murder Inc. money-laundering trial. Lawyers are testing people’s knowledge on hip-hop culture, seeking to determine if folks can remain fair and impartial. Not sure if candidates must also record a demo track.

• Dude, where’s my Lamborghini? Safe and sound, if you’re Cam’ron. The Harlem rapper escaped a carjacking in Washington, D.C., but not before having a bullet rip into both arms. For hip-hop artists, confronting a carjacker is the quickest route to jacking up album sales.

• Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the nation are presenting students with special programs — diet programs, that is. The country’s obesity epidemic is hitting minorities hard, so institutions of higher learning are seeking to lower the weight of its average student body. Is it any surprise that Mickey D’s is a strong supporter of HBCUs?

• “I think we as Black people spend way too much time worrying about what White people think of us. I don’t give a fuck about what White people think,” said Aaron McGruder, creator of the comic strip and new Cartoon Network show, The Boondocks. McGruder spoke with Allison Samuels in the October 31, 2005 issue of Newsweek. Check it out.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Essay 197

The November 2005 issue of Ebony marks the publication’s 60th anniversary, celebrating all the historic reporting and cultural progress.


The special edition also features a print ad that demonstrates Black advertising agencies still have a long way to go.

The brand is Tampax. And the advertisement is offensive on so many levels.

The primary visual shows a young Black woman sitting in a church pew. The headline and copy are printed over her back. The ad reads:

Who would have thought wearing your Sunday’s best included a tampon?

But I look good. And I feel good. Especially since I don’t have to say an extra prayer every time the preacher says, “All rise.” Ooh who’s that? He’s cute. Well, from what I can see over Sister Jackson’s hat. I’ll be making my way over there to give him a nice, big welcome hug. Good thing I’m not one of the sick and shut-in today. Amen.

The tagline appears beside a group shot of product boxes — Relax. It’s Tampax.®


Wonder what folks were smoking while this one went through the approval process. If an account planner uncovered insights linking Black women’s menstrual cycles and going to church, well, God help us all. The Copywriter and Art Director should have been sent back to rethink the project — after being reprimanded for wasting the Creative Director’s time. Can’t believe agency staffers and clients were able to sit through a presentation without snickering over its stupidity. What the hell did the legal department denizens think when the layout crossed their desks? And let’s not even get into the hackneyed design and photography.

It’s so messed up for Ebony to observe 60 years of moving forward with an advertisement that is downright backward.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Essay 196

Here we go again.

Advertising Week created controversy with its lame and sexist breasts ad (see Essay Ninety-One).

Neil French created controversy with his alleged sexist remarks about female creative directors (See Essays 177, 179, 180, 183, 188, 189, etc.).

Now the Effies Awards has apparently joined The Boy’s Club.

An online banner ad for the 2006 Effies Awards features a reclining nude woman. The animated copy reads:

Edgy? Absolutely.
Eye Catching? Probably.
Memorable? Definitely.
Effective? Prove it!

The ad continues with directions for submitting work for the Effies Awards.

Damn, what the hell is going on here? Maybe French freelanced on the project.

Essay 195

Sunday sobering statements brought to you by MultiCultClassics Minutes…

>> “When I get these letters, I actually pray for the people who have written them,” said Archbishop of York John Sentamu. The Church of England’s first Black archbishop has received hate mail with racial slurs.

>> “The motive of these particular individuals remains unclear. However, my greatest concern is that they were able to gain access to the installation at all,” said Republican Rep. Robin Hayes of North Carolina. About 150 illegal immigrants have been found working at U.S. military bases.

>> “It makes sense for the entire judiciary to embrace the concept of judicial training, of which diversity training is a part,” said South Africa’s top judges in a report on racism. Cape Town’s chief judge, John Hlophe, claimed Black colleagues are deliberately belittled by White peers, laughed at when they speak in their native languages and excluded from social and business events.

>> “I don’t really believe that men and women manage differently. There are as many different styles and approaches among women as there are among men. There are some really bitchy men. There are. People might expect women to be more sensitive so they see what they expect to see,” stated Shelly Lazarus, Chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. Lazarus’ comments appeared in a Newsweek Special Report titled, “How Women Lead” — while Worldwide Creative Director of WPP Neil French was being lambasted for his controversial remarks about women in advertising.

Essay 194

To contrast all the recent debates about sexism in the advertising business, here’s an article that appeared in The Chicago Tribune…


Female rappers missing from mainstream

By Kyra Kyles
Special to the Tribune
October 23, 2005

If you take a long look at rap music today, you’d think the only women in the industry were video vixens and backup singers. Talk of booties and the b-word abounds in videos and on the radio. Strip club anthems such as “Get Down Hit the Floor,” “The Whisper Song” and “Shake” rule the clubs.

In the late 1980s things were different, and women spoke up for themselves. Queen Latifah commanded respect in “Ladies First.” A decade later, MC Lyte made the fellas feel “Paper Thin,” followed by Lauryn Hill finding the “Lost Ones” in ‘98.

In 2005, hip-hop is flourishing, but successful female rap stars are a fuzzy memory.

Lil’ Kim’s plastic surgeries and current jail stint have reduced her to a tabloid headline.

Foxy Brown is now known for feuding with nail techs and doing cameos for second-tier R&B artists.

Trina’s main claim to fame seems to be the dimensions of her derriere.

Other female rappers appear to have given up the game altogether.

Former Ruff Ryder Eve is focused on her UPN sitcom.

Queen Latifah went Hollywood and is belting out jazz tunes.

That leaves Missy Elliott, whose infectious beats and mind-bending party lyrics earn her the torch almost by default. But one female artist, no matter how talented, is not enough to make an impact on the rap industry. With male MCs telling female listeners to “get their eagle on,” “drop it like it’s hot” and “get low,” mainstream hip-hop is being misled into misogyny.

This is an industry in need of a few good women.

Out of the mainstream

“We have a responsibility to improve this music because we love hip-hop as much as men do,” said local producer Phathom DJ, a.k.a. Danyell Abston. “I’m sick of hearing nothing but 50 Cent talking about the ‘Candy Shop’ all day on the radio. There are records from female artists that are so good, but nobody else hears them because they’re not mainstream.”

Can female rappers win back their place on the mainstream map?

I posed this question to Victor “Dizz” Blackful, a staple on the Chicago radio and hip-hop scene since ‘92, when he debuted on now-defunct WJPC.

Back then, WJPC played women rappers in heavy rotation, including Boss, Salt-N-Pepa and MC Lyte. The station’s hunger for hip-hop 24 hours a day made it easier to be diverse, according to Blackful, who is currently half of the Bad Boys team at WGCI-FM 107.5. Blackful says there are only a handful of female rappers on the station’s playlist and in the industry at large, a freeze-out traceable to the boom of gangsta rap in the late ‘80s.

“Women really couldn’t add a lot to all that talk about killing and drug-dealing and womanizing,” Dizz said.

Ten years later, the next wave of so-called successful females looked and sounded a lot different than their ‘80s counterparts.

“It seemed like the female artists were mentored by male MCs to look and sound a different way,” said Mimi Valdes, editor-in-chief of Vibe magazine. “Biggie developed Lil’ Kim, and Jay-Z was working with Foxy Brown. I think they were strong women, but they took advantage of America’s obsession with sex.”

The ploy worked.

Big sales

Both Lil’ Kim and and Foxy Brown generated platinum record sales in 1997, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

But their success also created a new, seemingly unshakeable mold for female MCs, according to Valdes.

“But that’s something you could also say about male MCs,” said Valdes, citing the popularity of the “gangsta” style from NWA up to 50 Cent. “It’s like the industry gets stuck on certain things. For women, they’re stuck on sex.”

Chicago’s female rappers are also falling victim to those trends, making the local scene a microcosm of the national one.

Ang 13, a female rapper/producer who lives in Rogers Park, says the “sex sells” mentality has forced most lady lyricists underground.

“A lot of us want to have complete control and not be told how to sound or look,” said Ang, a.k.a. Angela Zone. “We don’t want a label to overhaul our images.”

Three years ago, local rapper Miss Criss, a.k.a. Christina Nance, would have disagreed. Back then, Miss Criss was signed to Cash Money/Universal Records and excited about her upcoming solo debut. Now Criss, who got out of her contract after three years in label limbo, is back in the underground working with a local production house, Clubhouse Entertainment.

“To make it as a female MC, your body has to be tight, I mean phenomenal,” said Miss Criss. “They want you to be a Beyoncé or a Mya.”

Sex sells

Criss also says she was encouraged to talk dirty in her lyrics and avoid any hard-hitting topics, something she was not willing to do.

“I have gone through a lot of things in my life and I want to talk about them,” Criss said. “Sex is not the only thing I can talk about.”

“We want to make music we can be proud of,” Ang 13 said. “I won’t lie about it, I would like to be signed, but I can make it on my own as well.”

Teefa, a.k.a. Lateefa Harland, says the future of females in hip-hop isn’t as bleak as many would think. Fresh out of high school, she and former partner-in-rhyme Shawnna were signed to Relativity Records. The duo, called Infamous Syndicate, released “Changing the Game” in 1999. As a result of that industry exposure, Teefa doesn’t have much sympathy for women MCs, saying that professional laziness, not sexual discrimination, is to blame.

“These men do what they have to do to get a deal,” said Teefa, who deejays on WGCI and balances that with a solo recording career. “They hustle, and if they have to, they might get money from people in the street life, and they’ll sell their records out of their car trunks to get signed. They get it done.”


Where are they now?

Some of hip-hop’s formerly prominent, dominant female rappers are still around, and making music, including:

MC Lyte: Old-school rap legend recently performed in Chicago during the African Festival of the Arts. She also has a recurring role on the UPN sitcom “Half & Half,” playing (ironically) the president of a record label.

Yo Yo: Known as the “Bonnie” to Ice Cube’s “Clyde” in the ‘90s, she mixed feminine wiles and saucy lyrics in tracks such as “You Can’t Play With My Yo Yo,” and “Black Pearl.”

Now a deejay for Los Angeles’ KDAY-FM 93.5, she is set to independently release a new solo album, “Fearless” by January, according to a KDAY spokeswoman. She also was recently featured on the “Roll Bounce” soundtrack.

Da Brat: The Chicago native appeared in last season’s “Surreal Life” cast, but seems to be getting back to the reality of rap. She cameos on a remix of Dem Franchize Boyz’ popular single “I Think They Like Me,” and appears in the video with her signature braids and baggy clothes intact. Though the appearance is brief, it gives fans hope she’ll be back in the rap ring soon with another solo stunner.

Lauryn Hill: Shortly after the 1998 release of “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” the vocalist who helped define the Fugees’ style dropped out of the rap scene.

According to a 2001 MTV interview, she was overwhelmed by the industry and sought a sabbatical.

Now, Hill returns to her Fugees roots alongside former partners Pras and Wyclef Jean. Currently, you can hear Hill spit rapid-fire rhymes in the group’s first single, “Take It Easy.” The full Fugees’ album is set for release in early 2006, according to the group’s Web site on

Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

Essay 193

This can only mean one thing — it’s time for MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Young DeBarge, former brother-in-law of Janet Jackson, claimed on live radio the singer has a secret 18-year-old daughter. This can only mean one thing. Janet Jackson is about to release another CD.

• While 50 Cent was filming a documentary in Jamaica, four members of his posse were arrested — and two of them were packing firearms. This can only mean one thing. The two unarmed men probably left their guns at the hotel.

• Len Dresslar, who voiced the Jolly Green Giant and other ad critters, died at age 80. This can only mean one thing. Sprout is going to have to step up.

• Newborn Nursery Adoption Centers, the latest big thing in the toy business, lets kids adopt dolls for $100 each — complete with toy sellers dressed as nurses and fake adoption papers. Now the toy ploy is under fire from advocacy groups who argue the dolls demean the real adoption process. So far, FAO Schwarz and Saks Inc. are ignoring the protests. This can only mean one thing. The dolls must be making a ton of money.

• A St. Louis CEO racked up over $240,000 in American Express charges at a New York strip joint in 2003, and now the credit card company is suing for payment. This can only mean one thing. The strip joint scene in St. Louis must really suck.

• A study by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, revealed Black college students have strong spiritual beliefs. In the category of “Religious commitment” — which includes following religious teachings in daily life and having faith in a greater power — 47 percent of Blacks scored high versus 25 percent of Whites. This can only mean one thing. White folks are evil.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Essay 192

MultiCultClassics Member (official title bestowed upon all visitors) Hadji Williams makes a guest appearance at to present his perspectives on the business and hype his book. Click on the essay title and get acquainted.

Essay 191

A quick turn through the ad pages of the November issue of Essence…

• A study in black by the Infiniti G35 Coupe. Or a study in contrived, patronizing borrowed interest. Then again, is it really borrowed interest if the end result is not interesting?

• New BK Chicken Fries presents the headline, “BADDEST CHICK IN THE GAME” — with Chicken Fries used to spell out the last word. Note to the creative team: You got no game.

• A spread for the New 2006 Nissan Murano is moronic. There's a collage of photos with an odd list: SMOOTHELICIOUS, SMOOTHMENT, SMOOTHOCRACY, SMOOTHELICITY, SMOOTHOLUTION and SMOOTHTOPIA. It all leads to a shot of the vehicle under the phrase SMOOTH-UV (a twist on SUV?). The Murano is illegally parked too close to a fire hydrant. Smooth move, art director.

• Kraft serves up a nauseating recipe ad for Velveeta Nacho Bake. The headline reads, “‘Nacho’ ordinary casserole.” The tagline reads, “Honey, It’s A Meal.” Add one cup of cyanide-laced Kool-Aid, honey.

• Get A Quote / Help A Student / It’s That Easy. Allstate hypes a program supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which is definitely a cool effort. But hopefully, this ad is not indicative of why the insurance company recently hired a new Black agency — that is, did Allstate just need a minority vendor to produce its goodwill announcements? By the way, the layout design is awful.

• Aim toothpaste features a promotional tie-in with Charlie And The Chocolate Factory on DVD. Can’t blame the advertising agency for this contradictory offer. However, the agency can be credited for copywriting and art direction that will induce the gnashing of teeth.

• Toyota needs to get pulled over for multiple violations. This brand has been rolling out one insulting concept after another. The latest displays a Camry in a clear-roofed parking garage. The headline reads, “First the glass ceiling. Then the reserved parking space.” The copy leads with, “You’re mentally wealthy.” Note to creative team: You’re mentally deficient.

Let’s do better, folks. Plus, let’s stop forcing culture versus legitimately appealing to the target audience in relevant and breakthrough ways. Note: These comments are intended for advertising agencies AND clients.


The November issue of Essence features a terrific interview with NAACP President and CEO Bruce Gordon; plus, a conversation between Susan L. Taylor and Cornel West — check it out.

Essay 190

The Friday Evening News with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Victor Edward Willis, aka the Village People cop, is wanted by the real police. Willis failed to appear for sentencing in a drug case stemming from a July 11 arrest, when officers found a gun and crack cocaine in his car. Now the Macho Man is the Invisible Man. Or maybe he enlisted In The Navy.

• Gordon Lee, aka Porky from the Little Rascals, is dead at age 71. Former Little Rascal Robert Blake denied any involvement with Lee’s death.

• NBA legend Charles Barkley is okay with the league’s new dress code. While conceding its racial overtones, Barkley believes it will ultimately send a positive message. “If a well-dressed White kid and a Black kid wearing a do-rag and throwback jersey came to me in a job interview, I’d hire the White kid,” Barkley said. “That’s reality. That’s the No. 1 reason I support the dress code.”

• Star Wars creator George Lucas donated $1 million for a Washington memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. However, Lucas probably thinks any statue should be cast to resemble Lando Calrissian.

• Dasun Allah, editor of The Source magazine, did some freelance writing. Actually, he tagged a Jehovah’s Witness assembly hall in Harlem. The graffiti included numbers, symbols and crazy hieroglyphics. Allah probably just wanted to remind them to renew their subscription.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Essay 189

OK, here’s a slightly different take on the Neil French debacle…

For those struggling with the political controversies, perhaps it would be easier to consider the professional aspects.

Neil French stumbled for his failures as an adman.

First, he failed to consider a key advertising tenet: Know your target. He walked into an audience with lots of women and young professionals and spewed outdated perspectives.

Second, his quotes during an Advertising Age interview spoke volumes. “If you can’t commit yourself to any job then, by definition, you’re crap at it. If you can’t commit 100% to your job, don’t pretend you can. Nobody deserves a job unless they can commit to it,” he insisted. Neil French couldn’t commit to keeping up with the times, which is what the advertising business has always demanded.

Essay 188


Looks like there are signs of progress after all.

News reports announced Neil French is leaving WPP. Not clear if it’s a resignation or termination.

An interview with Advertising Age revealed an individual with no remorse or recognition of his offenses. In fact, he dug himself a deeper grave with more biased commentary, including snipes at Nancy Vonk and his alleged assassins. French just doesn’t get it. Nobody hates the man — except perhaps the direct victims of his bullying and discrimination. Rather, most folks simply hate his outdated attitudes and behavior. His ungraceful fall was triggered by modern technology. “It’s death by blog, isn’t it?” French observed. How ironic.

“If you can’t commit yourself to any job then, by definition, you’re crap at it. If you can’t commit 100% to your job, don’t pretend you can. Nobody deserves a job unless they can commit to it,” he insisted. Too bad Neil French couldn’t commit to keeping up with the times, which is what the advertising business has always demanded.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Essay 187

A MultiCultClassics Member (official title bestowed upon all visitors) posed a provocative question to Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk — aka Jancy — regarding diversity in advertising. Click on the essay title and be enlightened. Let’s call it, “When Hadji Met Jancy.”

Essay 186

Celebrity-Studded MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Michael Jackson must appear in court again — but this time it’s for jury duty. The King of Pop received a summons, but he’s hoping to moonwalk away from his responsibilities by claiming he’s no longer a resident at Neverland Valley Ranch. He could have simply claimed he’s no longer an earthling.

• George W. Bush may be the most unpopular president among Blacks since the dawning of U.S. poll taking, according to a poll taken by NBC and The Wall Street Journal. Bush received a staggering 2 percent approval rating among Blacks. Damn, what’s up with 2 percent of Black folks?!

• Some NBA players are calling the league’s new dress code racist. “One thing to me that was kind of racist was you can’t wear chains outside your clothing…I don’t understand what that has to do with being business approachable...You wear a suit you still could be a crook. You see all that happened with Enron and Martha Stewart,” said Warriors guard Jason Richardson. Players will be prohibited from wearing visible chains, pendants or medallions over their clothes. Wonder if the rules apply to referees’ whistles.

• Can we talk race? Joan Rivers launched into a screaming rant on a live radio show in London. It all started when another guest, writer and Black activist Darcus Howe, discussed how race affects personal relationships. Rivers snapped, “I’m so bored with race.” The comment initiated an argument with accusations, cursing and more. Hey, maybe the surgically-altered Rivers actually said, “I’m so bored with face.” Catch the fight at

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Essay 185

Mo’ Midweek MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• UBS, Europe’s largest bank, is being sued for discriminating against Black employees, giving them worse positions than Whites and denying promotions. Any excuses or denials from the financial organization should be deemed total (u)BS.

• Sticky Fingaz has deprived trigger fingaz after accidentally leaving his gun in a New York hotel room. A maid discovered the pistol, and authorities ultimately hit the rapper/actor with weapons possession. Mr. Fingaz hopes the charges won’t stick.

• The NBA will prohibit players from wearing sloppy clothes and too much bling at official events. Oh, now that should change the league’s image problems. Plus, the “sloppy clothes” worn by athletes like Allen Iverson is probably significantly more expensive than the gear worn by most fans — or even management.

• What causes poverty? A survey conducted by the Marguerite Casey Foundation showed poor people think they were dealt a bad hand in life, while wealthy people think it’s mostly due to lack of effort. Not sure if folks were polled regarding their thoughts on how the rich get rich. Plus, it’s sad someone didn’t consider simply taking the survey budget and donating it to the poor instead.

• According to a Newsweek report, Democrats and Republicans are accusing each other of exploiting New Orleans evacuees for political reasons. Democrats believe Republicans are hoping to reduce the state’s Democratic base by discouraging people from returning. Republicans probably insist the poor aren’t coming back mostly due to lack of effort.

• “Unfortunately, even in 2005 we still have those that would very well like to see different segments of our population locked out of the system,” said the NAACP’s Hilary Shelton, commenting on the need for the Voting Rights Act. Others insist voters are being held back mostly due to lack of effort.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Essay 184

Monday Musings & MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Holy Toledo! It appears the cops in Ohio knew they might be facing a riot days before one actually erupted in response to a Nazi gathering last Saturday. Officers heard gang members planned to show up, but they didn’t completely anticipate things would get so ugly. In the end, 114 people were arrested, one cop was seriously injured, cars were vandalized, a neighborhood bar was torched and tear gas filled the air. And that all happened after the Nazis left the area.

• Illegal immigrants have flocked to Mississippi, lured by the employment opportunities created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But many of the undocumented workers wind up unpaid, the pawns of unscrupulous contractors. Guess we can add these folks as secondary victims of the natural disaster.

• Graffiti messages are appearing all over New Orleans, presenting some dark humor. A smelly, discarded refrigerator reads, “Please send to George W. Bush.” A broken-down fishing boat bears the name “SS Brown” — a reference to former FEMA head Michael Brown. It’s social commentary written with urban calligraphy.

• Rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated, although spray-painted on the balcony of Fats Domino’s wrecked home in New Orleans. The legendary musician returned to discover the heartfelt message, “R.I.P. Fats. You will be missed.” Rescuers had evacuated Mr. Domino via boat after the disaster.

• Folks from White Settlement, Texas will vote to consider changing the city’s name. Some residents think the name carries too much racial baggage, especially for strangers to the area. The place was named in the 1840s, when people settled between numerous American Indian tribes. Some folks don’t want to change anything, arguing the name “just means that there was a group of Whites who were daring enough to come West and settle in the midst of the Indians.” Not convinced most American Indians would agree with the word “daring.”

Welcome, New and Old Readers.

Welcome to

The blog launched in March 2005. The initial goal was to spark discussions and debates about multiculturalism in the advertising industry — including all the good, bad and ugly complexities and contradictions.

Admittedly, there wasn’t a master plan or long-term strategy. Just decided to begin typing and see where it might go.

Many essays and months later, the plan is no clearer. The strategy is being reworked daily too.

Nonetheless, the conversation continues — despite the fact that it’s more of a monologue versus dialogue.

Here’s what offers you:

If you’re deep into the multicultural advertising scene, this is the place for relatable, relevant insights and more. It’s all the stuff you’d toss around the virtual water cooler.

If you’re semi-clueless to the world outside of your personal universe, this is the place for you as well. One deliberate tactic here is to expose the masses to progressive, 21st century diversity. It’s not something exclusive to the human resources department. Think of the blog as delivering a recommended daily allowance of culture.

Please read the blog starting at Essay One. You’re encouraged to agree or disagree with anything posted.

Please visit often. Admission is free. Open to the public 24 hours a day.

Finally, please share the blog with everyone you know. It works best with an inclusive spirit.

Essay 183

Once again, a recent fiasco confirmed the exclusivity that continues to plague advertising, spotlighting the industry’s dark side. Actually, dark side may be an inappropriate term, as the problem is rooted in whiteness — specifically, White male dominance.

A Night with Neil French took a nightmarish detour when the Worldwide Creative Director of WPP spewed his Cro-Magnon perspectives on women in the creative department. The specifics of his slurs can be viewed elsewhere. And even purchased on DVD for a mere $29.29 + shipping and handling. MultiCultClassics visitors are encouraged to spend their money more wisely — like making additional contributions to the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts — versus supporting endeavors promoting hateful discrimination.

The first major rebuttal came via an essay by Nancy Vonk. The Co-Chief Creative Officer of Ogilvy Toronto typed a gripe that included drawing parallels between sexism and racism. Plus, Vonk admitted being intimately familiar with French’s chauvinistic tendencies. In other words, Vonk has submissively permitted French to freely expose his biased behavior. Vonk’s controversial rant can also be viewed elsewhere (see Essay 179). Subsequent comments posted on various blogs reflected the cluelessness — and even mean-spirited ignorance — so prevalent in our business.

The arguments for or against French and Vonk are almost irrelevant. What really sucks is the lack of responses from the industry’s top brass. As customary, our alleged leaders turn blind eyes, deaf ears and assorted impaired sensory organs to the ugly realities. Better to focus on more pressing issues, like seeking alternative sources of revenue and falsifying client billings.

If public or political figures exhibited French-like attitudes, they would face immediate reprimands and condemnations. Hell, if executives at the numerous corporations WPP services uttered such primitive opinions, they would face instant terminations. But in the advertising industry, there are no rules against the stuff that the rest of our civilized culture deems unacceptable. Where others show zero tolerance, this business displays 100% indifference.

The ability to write a clever headline will always negate any offenses committed on society. In fact, it will win you a “Worldwide” title and the authority to be a jackass.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Essay 182

Your FREE Copy of The Sunday Edition of MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Looks like somebody decided less is more at the Million More Movement. Black gays and lesbians were rejected in their efforts to have one of their leaders speak at the event. Folks are blaming Million More Movement executive director Willie F. Wilson for the snub. Wilson has allegedly been feuding with gays and lesbians for months, though he insisted their representative failed to meet specific criteria for speakers. Maybe the event should change its name to Million More Excuses Movement.

• Looks like things got a little ugly at the first regional gathering of the Chicago Minuteman Project (see Essay 181). A few protesters scuffled with cops, leading to five arrests. Supporters believed prospective participants did not appear because they feared for their safety. Playing off other fears, Republican Keith Butler — who will probably be next year’s GOP nominee in Michigan’s U.S. Senate race — warned, “By not securing our borders, we are putting our wives and children at risk.” Apparently, there’s also risk in attending Minuteman Project functions.

• The judge in the R. Kelly child pornography case may ultimately toss the charges against the R&B singer. Prosecutors have failed to accurately pinpoint the creation date of the infamous videotape, only managing to narrow the estimate to a 33-month period. Defense attorneys argue that’s too vague, and hope the court will drop the entire case. Judge Vincent Gaughan declared he’ll present a ruling within two weeks. The judge probably wants to spend a little more time viewing the video.

• Radar Online claimed learning from a high-level anonymous source that Vanity Fair retouched the cover photograph of Beyoncé Knowles to make her appear lighter. Vanity Fair denies the charges. At the same time, the publication has not featured a sole Black person on its cover since 1998. So maybe somebody decided Ms. Knowles was not Vanity Fair-skinned enough.

• Actor Daniel Craig has been officially named the next James Bond. Nearly every news report states Craig will be the first blond Bond. Still awaiting the first Black Bond. But that would probably be shaking-not-stirring things up too much.

• Terrence Howard received a career achievement award at the Chicago International Film Festival. The actor made two cool performances this year in Crash and Hustle & Flow. “I love the fact that people are talking about me…But the better part of it is, I don’t hear what they’re saying. What I mean is that my perspective on me is pretty much the same — I am always trying to find a greater challenge. I keep trying to impress me,” said Howard. We’re impressed.

• A New York Times article detailed the growing popularity of drinking games among the youth market, particularly college students. Marketers including Anheuser-Busch — inventor of Bud Pong — have joined the fun by creating games, events and hype. “It’s awesome,” said a 22-year-old Drexel University senior. “If you win, you win. If you lose, you drink. There’s no negative.” Right, genius. Tell it to organizations like MADD.

• A Los Angeles Times article detailed the growing popularity of video games has inspired new marketing tactics. Virtual billboards and product placement are now playing in video games everywhere. So you can escape reality through gaming, but you won’t escape the reality of advertising. Game over.

• Kraft Foods Inc. announced the elimination of about 600 positions as part of an overall goal to cut 6000 jobs by 2007. Sales of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese are predicted to skyrocket, as the unemployed workers will seek to reduce their personal food bills.

• In Korea, there’s an American food product that’s gaining tremendous popularity as an extravagant luxury item. It’s Spam. The pink slabs of mystery meat are all the rage, selling in wrapped boxes for $44 per dozen cans. Figures show 40% of the Spam is bought as gifts. Imagine the mad shopping frenzy once Hormel introduces Korea to Vienna sausages.

Essay 181

A new day is dawning with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Early estimates show the Million More Movement attracted significantly less than a million participants. Nonetheless, the 12-hour gathering on the National Mall left people inspired. Speakers included Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Russell Simmons, Rep. Mel Watts and Eryka Badu. Recognizing the broader audience in attendance, Farrakhan proclaimed, “This tells us that a new day is dawning in America.”

• A Nazi gathering in Ohio turned ugly when a crowd protesting the White supremacists started rioting. Police were attacked, cars and stores were vandalized and a neighborhood bar was set on fire. The mayor declared a state of emergency and ordered a curfew through the weekend. This tells us that a new day may not be dawning in America after all.

• The Virginia governor’s race turned decidedly ugly when Republican Jerry W. Kilgore released an ad referencing Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The ad attacked Democrat Timothy Kaine, who is against capital punishment, saying Kaine wouldn’t even support putting Hitler to death. This tells us that a new day is dawning in American politics.

• Protesters were expected to appear at the first regional gathering of the Chicago Minuteman Project. The group originally launched in Arizona, with the primary goal of finding and reporting illegal immigrants. Critics insist the Minuteman members are racist. This tells us that a new day is dawning in American bigotry.

• A new restaurant in Miami sparked controversy with its name. El Carajo is used in a saying that essentially means “go to hell” — and some Spanish dictionaries offer translations that include male genitalia. The restaurant owners reference a 15th Century definition: a sailing vessel’s “crow’s nest.” City officials have denied the eatery a temporary sign. This tells us that a new day is dining in America.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Essay 180

Adman Ernie Schenck admits to being a big fan of Neil French, the Worldwide Creative Director of WPP. So it was probably tough for Schenck to post an entry on his blog detailing the latest controversy ignited by French’s ignorant rant — plus publish comments from MultiCultClassics. Give Schenck credit for his continued willingness to examine all the good, bad and ugly our business and society have to offer.

Click on the essay title for your free examination.

Essay 179

Now available for public consumption: More evidence of the advertising industry’s problems with diversity and multiculturalism.

Visit the link below or simply click on the essay title to join the fun.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Essay 178

Rapid relief with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Do Blacks and Hispanics have higher thresholds for pain? A new study showed pharmacies in Black communities are less likely to stock adequate supplies of certain painkillers than those in White communities. Additionally, the disparities displayed little differences based on income levels; i.e., affluent and poor Black neighborhoods were equally deprived. The study appeared in the latest issue of the Journal of Pain. Most Blacks would probably insist they wrote the Journal of Pain. Meanwhile, another study showed recent immigrants from Mexico — defined as people living in the U.S. less than 10 years — were half as likely to use emergency room services as Whites. Hopefully, these folks won’t seek painkillers in Black areas.

• Conservative activists are attacking American Girl, the popular doll manufacturer. Seems the tight-asses have taken offense to the company’s contributions to a youth group favoring abortion rights and accepting lesbians. Hey, how come American Girl hasn’t let any pro-choice lesbian dolls out of the toy closet?

• Minnesota Vikings players are serious playas, based on a lurid incident involving a wild sex party. At least 17 pro athletes participated in the action that took place aboard two yachts on Lake Minnetonka recently. Sadly for Vikings fans, this may be the only scoring the team does for the rest of the season.

• The University of Illinois is fighting the NCAA for prohibiting the school from fully displaying its Chief Illiniwek mascot. The Chief has been around since 1926, and supporters argue his presence offers the “opportunity to preserve and showcase [the university’s] tradition, heritage and culture.” No better way to accomplish that than by routinely mocking Native Americans’ tradition, heritage and culture.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Essay 177

MultiCultClassics made a few post appearances at — check it out:

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Essay 176

You couldn’t make up these MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• The story involving the 64-year-old Black man beaten by New Orleans cops keeps getting better. The cops insisted the old man was intoxicated and resisted arrest. The man, who happens to be a retired schoolteacher, contended he was simply out buying cigarettes when the officers attacked. “I haven’t had a drink in 25 years,” the old man claimed. But he was plenty punch drunk after the cops finished pummeling him.

• Could somebody please explain why Dove flaunts its Real Beauty campaign at every opportunity imaginable — yet goes back to using idealized supermodels for its shampoo commercial? Oh, wait a minute. It’s because Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is total bullshit. Got it.

• Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman tried to lure Black voters in Waterbury, Connecticut. Meanwhile, President Bush revisited the water-buried in New Orleans. At this point, the only Black votes the GOP can count on will come from Condi and Clarence.

• The Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee is having serious financial problems. Here’s a novel suggestion: let’s fund the place with reparations money.

• Illegal immigrants are seeking legal divorces at an alarming rate. Guess it’s all just part of the U.S. assimilation process. Come to America for a better life — and a better wife.

• Louis Farrakhan is hoping to show a more inclusive spirit with the upcoming Million More Movement. Building on the concept behind the 1995 Million Man March, the new event invites participation from Latinos, Native Americans, women and gays. Add Jews and Whites, and you’d have the complete collection of groups that Farrakhan has alienated over the years.

• A new anti-war commercial by UNICEF depicting Smurfs being killed by bombs is now running on Belgian television. Pool-out spots will probably show Care Bears as chemical warfare victims and Teletubbies being tortured in U.S. prisoner camps.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Essay 175

Clueless on Columbus Day…

• Former Education Secretary William Bennett continues to argue he was misunderstood and misrepresented by the media for his statements regarding aborting Black babies to reduce crime rates. Seems Bennett may be the only one who doesn’t understand.

• The lawyer for the Cleveland couple accused of keeping their kids in cages presented pictures of the children happily enjoying toys and gifts during the holidays. Probably eagerly opening their shiny new padlocks.

• Madonna managed to piss off rabbis for a song on her upcoming album dedicated to Kabbalist rabbi Yitzhak Luria. “Jewish law forbids the use of the name of the holy rabbi for profit. Her act is just simply unacceptable and I can only sympathize for her because of the punishment that she is going to receive from the heavens,” said Rabbi Rafael Cohen. Just add it to the long list of punishments awaiting the Material Girl at the Pearly Gates. Plus, wait till they see the music video.

• The Partnership For A Drug-Free America has been busy positioning parents as The Anti-Drug, but it appears the organization needs to target adults in a different way — particularly in California. A state survey shows people 40 and older are dying of overdoses at double the rate in the 1990s, surpassing firearms, homicides and AIDS as causes of deaths. Kids, talk to your parents about drugs. Provided they’re not high.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Essay 174

Columbus Day Weekend MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• “I can’t front. I don’t have a lot of respect for 50 Cent because his music is hardcore...violent...And I love his music sometimes, but I feel like in his personal life, his real life, he carries that on, and that’s not a great message, you know what I mean? I think he promotes it,” said Lil’ Kim. Just before she went to the slammer for lying about a shootout involving members of her entourage.

• Speaking of rappers with arsenals, Jay-Z plans to outdo the competition. The retired rapper is seeking to buy a stake in London’s Arsenal soccer club. Players are looking forward to some serious post-game parties.

• New Orleans police officers were caught on videotape beating a 64-year-old Black man; plus, the cops also knocked around an Associated Press producer and cameraman. Three officers were suspended pending investigations for using excessive force on the old man. But they may be eligible for commendations for manhandling the AP folks.

• Media giant Reuters is taking a beating from former employees filing bias lawsuits. Black and Asian American staffers charged Reuters with a variety of alleged acts of abuse and discrimination — from telling jokes about a Black man’s penis to a manager referring to his own semen as “milkshake.” Somebody send some New Orleans cops to Reuters’ headquarters pronto.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Essay 173

First Friday with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• A new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed American Indians use their seat belts at a significantly lower level than other citizens — 54 percent buckle up versus the national average of 82 percent. Can’t help but think the government could spend tax dollars in ways that might better benefit American Indians.

• The showdown was inevitable. McDonald’s and Starbucks are clashing in Illinois over mall space. Mickey D’s is seeking to block the opening of a Starbucks within a suburban shopping center. Golden Arches lawyers are twisting a contract agreement that limits the number of rival restaurants. Mickey D’s contends that Starbucks is a restaurant. Starbucks should counter with the argument that McDonald’s isn’t a restaurant, as the joint doesn’t sell real food.

• Hispanic leaders are criticizing President Bush for failing to nominate a Hispanic to the Supreme Court. Be careful what you wish for, compadres. Blacks are not exactly dancing in the streets over Justice Clarence Thomas.

• Wesley Snipes is not a crack ho’s baby daddy. A Manhattan judge dismissed a paternity suit against Snipes filed by a woman claiming Snipes fathered her kid when they had intercourse in a crackhouse — although it was later proven Snipes never met the woman. And no, it wasn’t Kate Moss.

• Officials in New Orleans are investigating allegations that police stole nearly 200 cars from a dealership as Hurricane Katrina approached. Funny how the media managed to document countless Black folks looting, yet no one spotted a Cadillac convoy of crooked cops.

• Don’t go into a diabetic coma in Akron, Ohio, as cops are prone to mistaking you for a drunk and beating you senseless. That’s what happened to a 56-year-old man who ultimately suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung — plus, the officers zapped him four times with a stun gun. In New Orleans, the cops would have also run him over with a new Cadillac.

Essay 172

There’s a spirited (albeit typical) online conversation about Hispanic Awards Shows taking place at

Click on the essay title and go join the fiesta.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Essay 171

Advertising Week 2005 continued to demonstrate the pathetic state of multiculturalism and diversity in the industry.

Advertisers need to make diversity more than simply “dancing to the bedroom…and not just a one-night stand, either,” proclaimed Interpublic Group chairman and CEO David Bell. The dubious statement was delivered at the AAF’s Mosaic Awards and District Two Diversity Achievement Awards in New York (the segregated, minority hours of Advertising Week). Bell also declared the ad community must embrace diversity more quickly and completely. “As proud as we are, we should not be proud because we are really nowhere.” Damn, who wrote this guy’s speech — Yogi Berra? Bell’s perspectives are additionally questionable when you consider his own company’s thoroughly awful hiring record, despite naming an official Director of Diversity in 2003. Bell probably won’t continue pushing the issue, as he may have his hands full dealing with IPG’s impending fraud investigations.

Press coverage of the multicultural events at Advertising Week was virtually nonexistent. The latest issue of Adweek featured a 3-page spread of photos from the gala. In all the pictures, only one Black person appears wedged in a group shot. The other photographed folks are almost exclusively White and male. Hell, they couldn’t even find a person of color to pose in front of the famed Apollo Theater.

Of course, there were the standard minority awards and speeches about the importance of minority advertising. Sadly, the industry sub-segments must repeatedly argue the business benefits of targeting beyond the mass market. Let’s not forget the special accolades bestowed upon the usual suspects. While these leaders are deserving of praise, it seemed a little peculiar for Verizon’s Jerri DeVard to receive the Role Model Award at the AAF District Two Diversity Achievement Awards when her company was identified as the Principal Underwriter of the extravaganza.

Hispanic marketers attempted to further their credibility with a handful of seminars. Plus, Juan Valdez was named the top advertising icon — although he’s got to share the honor with his mule and the Geico Gecko.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Welcome, New and Old Readers.

Welcome to

The blog launched in March 2005. The initial goal was to spark discussions and debates about multiculturalism in the advertising industry — including all the good, bad and ugly complexities and contradictions.

Admittedly, there wasn’t a master plan or long-term strategy. Just decided to begin typing and see where it might go.

Many essays and months later, the plan is no clearer. The strategy is being reworked daily too.

Nonetheless, the conversation continues — despite the fact that it’s more of a monologue versus dialogue.

Here’s what offers you:

If you’re deep into the multicultural advertising scene, this is the place for relatable, relevant insights and more. It’s all the stuff you’d toss around the virtual water cooler.

If you’re semi-clueless to the world outside of your personal universe, this is the place for you as well. One deliberate tactic here is to expose the masses to progressive, 21st century diversity. It’s not something exclusive to the human resources department. Think of the blog as delivering a recommended daily allowance of culture.

Please read the blog starting at Essay One. You’re encouraged to agree or disagree with anything posted.

Please visit often. Admission is free. Open to the public 24 hours a day.

Finally, please share the blog with everyone you know. It works best with an inclusive spirit.

Essay 170

The Monday Night Game with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Brown is the new Black at Red Cross shelters for Hurricane Katrina victims. Cops have been cracking down on illegal immigrants, forcing people to leave the shelters with threats of deportation. Red Cross officials do not support the eviction efforts, insisting, “The people [at the shelters] have been treated with respect by the Red Cross...We don’t profile people.” Police officers, on the other hand, can’t possibly make that claim.

• Former American Idol champion Fantasia Barrino revealed in her recently released autobiography that she’s functionally illiterate. Wonder how she likes her new book.

• The Supreme Court declined to review a lawsuit filed by three White students challenging the admissions policies at the University of Washington’s Law School. The students sought to collect damages from the school for its use of race as a factor in admissions. The justices opted to let stand an earlier ruling stating the school’s actions were legal. Ironic that lawyer wannabes would seek to sue a law school and try to bring the case to the highest legal branch available. These kids will probably never get so far in a courtroom again.

• People are dying to get into Arizona — literally. The state set a record of 460 migrant deaths in the past year. Officials cite the primary causes for the higher death rate as hot weather and longer routes through the desert to avoid detection.

• New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited Black churches and denounced William Bennett’s recent insensitive remarks linking Black birth rates to crime. Rev. Al Sharpton denounced Bloomberg for refusing to participate in a debate in Harlem. Somebody is scheduled to denounce Sharpton soon.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Essay 169

Seems like race-related killings are on the rise worldwide. In South Africa, a White farmer received a lifetime prison sentence for murdering a Black ex-employee. The worker was assaulted with machetes before being hurled alive into a lion enclosure, where the beasts devoured him. The Black man had actually been fired a few months earlier for running a personal errand during work time. The farmer and an associate attacked the ex-worker when he sought to retrieve some personal items. In Afghanistan, an American security contractor was accused of killing his Afghan interpreter. The circumstances remain fuzzy, with one camp claiming the American shot the interpreter over a personal grievance during a party. Supporters of the security contractor said the Afghan was responsible — while offering no further explanation. The case grew increasingly controversial when the American allegedly left Afghanistan, and the interpreter’s grieving relatives threatened to set themselves ablaze unless justice was served. Indonesian officials hoped to get information from the public about the suicide bombers in Bali — by publishing photos of the assassins’ severed heads. Of course, the grisly mug shots are available for viewing on the World Wide Web. In the U.S., tension is rising in Ohio after police shot and killed an unarmed Black man. Although the cop and Black man had engaged in a physical brawl before the shooting, community leaders are calling for a complete investigation, as Cleveland police have now shot three Blacks in the past month. Hispanic immigrants are being targeted in Georgia, with five killed and at least six wounded in similar robberies over the past weekend. Plus, a California Border Patrol agent fatally shot a suspected illegal immigrant smuggler during a scuffle. Hard to tell how large of a role race played in these incidents. But in the end, it all looks ugly.

Essay 168

Starting off on the wrong foot with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Boeing apologized for publishing an ad for its V-22 Osprey aircraft that depicted troops landing onto a mosque. The ad’s copy included, “It descends from the heavens. Ironically it unleashes hell.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations was among the first to complain. Boeing claimed the ad mistakenly ran because of a clerical error. “We consider the ad offensive, regret its publication and apologize to those who like us are dismayed with its contents,” said a Boeing spokesperson. However, Boeing failed to explain why the ad was produced at all. Probably for an internal pep rally.

• New Sears CEO Aylwin Lewis is laying down the law. An internal memo demanded that employees refrain from carrying bags or packages displaying competitors’ logos. Lewis was allegedly pissed off to learn that a Sears executive traveling with associates was spotted packing a competitor’s shopping bag. Lewis deserves respect for presenting the new mandate. Advertising icon David Ogilvy always insisted on wearing Sears clothes, as the retailer was one of his major clients. Wonder how many current Sears employees would do likewise. There are probably few folks sporting the oh-so-sophisticated Covington gear at the Hoffman Estates headquarters.

• The honeymoon is over for about 30 people indicted for participating in an immigration-marriage fraud operation in South Florida. The ring charged green card-seeking immigrants thousands of dollars to arrange fake marriages to U.S. citizens. One woman had 14 “husbands” in the scam. She’s probably got a closet full of toasters.

• Seattle is cracking down on strip clubs, creating laws designed to turn off the visiting gentlemen. There will be no more lap dances, and patrons may even be prohibited from sticking bills into G-strings. Additionally, the clubs must have bright lighting ala department stores — which will no doubt make the “merchandise” less appealing. Players for the Seahawks, Mariners and Sonics are probably furious.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Essay 167

Essay 159 offered an excerpt from a speech made by Harry Belafonte during a recent charity benefit for Hurricane Katrina victims. The complete speech, including a speech by Danny Glover, appears below. To learn more about the organization that sponsored the event, The Vanguard Public Foundation, please visit


Danny Glover:

John Coltrane once said “the main thing a musician would like to do, is to give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things he knows of and senses in the universe.” When Miles Davis asked him why he played so long, Coltrane answered, “It took that long to get it all in.”

New Orleans is the site of so many “wonderful things,” the city being a great crossroads of diverse peoples, languages, architectures, cuisines, and rhythms through the centuries. But it has also been the site of shameful things — slavery, exploitation and neglect.

It is a tribute to jazz musicians that they sought to “get it all in.” The music itself — vital, transformative, seductive, subversive and often improvised — provided the record that tied each generation to the next. Out of suffering and hardship, we have heard time and again jazz artists rediscover possibility. Such is the power of imagination. And hence, the critical importance of this evening’s effort.

When the hurricane struck the Gulf and the floodwaters rose and tore through New Orleans, plunging its remaining population into a carnival of misery, it did not turn the region into a Third World country — as it has been disparagingly implied in the media — it revealed one. It revealed the disaster within the disaster: grueling poverty rose to the surface like a bruise to our skin.

Mother Nature revealed the poverty of a mindset that narrowly views security as a military issue. That is blind to the role of culture in sustaining the mental health and social wellness of people, which is also the basis for economic productivity. Blind to the role of culture in education, through which we are prepared for our responsibilities in a democracy. And hostile to the role of culture in the search for truth.

Hurricane Katrina revealed, more than anything else, a poverty of imagination.

Harry Belafonte:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “True compassion is more than throwing a coin to a beggar. It demands of our humanity that if we live in a society that produces beggars, we are morally commanded to restructure that society.”

Let us challenge what we have been told was inevitable: Katrina was not “unforeseeable,” the loss of life and suffering was not “unavoidable.” It was the result of a political authority that sub-contracts its responsibility to the private sector and abdicates responsibility altogether when it comes to housing, health care, education and even evacuation.

As New Orleans rebuilds, let us also ensure that reconstruction does not result in further victimization. Let us support the efforts of those people in the Delta who have stated that they “will not go quietly into the night, scattering across this country to become homeless shadows in countless other cities while federal relief funds are funneled into rebuilding casinos, hotels and chemical plants...” Let us ensure that those victimized by this tragedy will be empowered to actively participate in the reclaiming, rebuilding and improvement of their communities.

The gift of music is to bring people together, to create not only a shared identity, but to embrace a shared humanity. To truly know ourselves is to realize how we are connected to each other.

Many people this evening have described the beauty, the Creole and spice, the gumbo that is New Orleans; the African roots, blues, gospel and many other musical traditions that have come together to create that uniquely American art form: jazz.

And the meaning of jazz, is life. Whether we receive it as a blend of many notes reflecting diverse traditions, or as John Coltrane might have it: as one note, played in endless variations.

Let us commit ourselves to the service of life.

The Vanguard Public Foundation, which Danny Glover and I serve, has a long history of social justice philanthropy and activism, and has established a People’s Hurricane Relief Fund. And tonight, on the occasion of this inspiring benefit convened by Wynton Marsalis, the Vanguard Foundation is making a donation of $200,000 to the Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Fund.