Thursday, August 31, 2006

Essay 1003


Nelly sells Pimp Juice, Tab sells an energy drink for the ladies. Makes perfect sense.

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For the past few weeks, MultiCultClassics has been paging through general market magazines in search of advertising featuring Black characters. The list included Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, People, Us, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Parents, Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Forbes and many more.

Excluded were layouts with Black sports figures, celebrities and super models. Additionally, ads depicting group photos including token Black figures were nixed. The goal was to determine the true diversity of the general market adscape.

After poring over scores of publications — and literally thousands of pages of ads and editorial — barely a dozen messages were uncovered.

This week, MultiCultClassics presents the rare findings.

Essay 1002




MultiCultClassics Monologue Update…

• Campbell’s Soup, Home Depot and Coca-Cola joined GM in declining to advertise during the upcoming “Survivor” season. However, the advertisers insist the decision is not based on the new format segregating competitors according to race. Hey, maybe CBS should consider segregating advertisers according to race. Stage a face-off between Juan Valdez, Aunt Jemima, Michelin Man and Benihana’s Rocky.

Essay 1001


It’s always odd to see Kraft hawk healthy food in one ad, then turn around and hype Macaroni & Cheese in another. They’re the sleeeeaziest.

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For the past few weeks, MultiCultClassics has been paging through general market magazines in search of advertising featuring Black characters. The list included Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, People, Us, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Parents, Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Forbes and many more.

Excluded were layouts with Black sports figures, celebrities and super models. Additionally, ads depicting group photos including token Black figures were nixed. The goal was to determine the true diversity of the general market adscape.

After poring over scores of publications — and literally thousands of pages of ads and editorial — barely a dozen messages were uncovered.

This week, MultiCultClassics presents the rare findings.

Essay 1000


A highly addictive MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Nicotine levels in cigarettes rose an average of about 10 percent between 1998 and 2004. Brands targeting youth and minorities saw the biggest increases. “The reports are stunning,” said the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “What’s critical is the consistency of the increase, which leads to the conclusion that it has to have been conscious and deliberate. … The only way the companies were able to secretly increase nicotine levels without anyone knowing about it is because no federal agency regulates tobacco products.” They’re probably all too busy smoking.

• Britain now reports a new border problem of its own. However, it involves citizens emigrating at record numbers. Over 350,000 people leave the country annually, up nearly 50 percent from a decade ago. They’re probably coming to America, lured by the increased nicotine in cigarettes.

• General Motors has voted itself off the roster of sponsors for “Survivor.” However, the decision was not related to the show’s plan to segregate contestants based on race. The automaker is probably just uncomfortable being associated with the word “survivor,” given their continued inability to compete in the global marketplace.

• The University of Illinois’ Chief Illiniwek is heading into his final season, after which he’ll no longer serve as an official school mascot. It’s all in response to the NCAA’s rulings against symbols deemed “hostile” and “abusive.” Perhaps the Chief is now available to compete in the upcoming “Survivor” program.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Essay 999


If the woman in this ad were really smart, she’d march away from most of the sponsors’ products pronto.

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For the past few weeks, MultiCultClassics has been paging through general market magazines in search of advertising featuring Black characters. The list included Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, People, Us, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Parents, Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Forbes and many more.

Excluded were layouts with Black sports figures, celebrities and super models. Additionally, ads depicting group photos including token Black figures were nixed. The goal was to determine the true diversity of the general market adscape.

After poring over scores of publications — and literally thousands of pages of ads and editorial — barely a dozen messages were uncovered.

This week, MultiCultClassics presents the rare findings.

Essay 998


For anyone curious, here’s a partial list of the publications perused in the search for Blacks in general market advertising:

AARP, Business Week, Child, Consumer Reports, Cosmopolitan, Details, The Economist, Elle, ESPN, Esquire, Fast Company, Forbes, Fortune, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar, House & Garden, InStyle, Ladies’ Home Journal, Maxim, Men’s Fitness, Money, New York, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Parents, People, Reader’s Digest, Redbook, Self, Seventeen, Smart Money, Sports Illustrated, Teen People, Time, Town & Country, U.S. News & World Report, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Woman’s Day and Wired.

Essay 997


Grandpa and shorty appear to be the only minorities in the stadium. Plus, they have to climb 52 steps to the nosebleed section.

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For the past few weeks, MultiCultClassics has been paging through general market magazines in search of advertising featuring Black characters. The list included Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, People, Us, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Parents, Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Forbes and many more.

Excluded were layouts with Black sports figures, celebrities and super models. Additionally, ads depicting group photos including token Black figures were nixed. The goal was to determine the true diversity of the general market adscape.

After poring over scores of publications — and literally thousands of pages of ads and editorial — barely a dozen messages were uncovered.

This week, MultiCultClassics presents the rare findings.

Essay 996


Secret shows stylish, contemporary Black women — but still manages to let one sistah diss a Black man. Unless the secret is the boyfriend is not Black. Now that might make the advertiser sweat.

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For the past few weeks, MultiCultClassics has been paging through general market magazines in search of advertising featuring Black characters. The list included Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, People, Us, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Parents, Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Forbes and many more.

Excluded were layouts with Black sports figures, celebrities and super models. Additionally, ads depicting group photos including token Black figures were nixed. The goal was to determine the true diversity of the general market adscape.

After poring over scores of publications — and literally thousands of pages of ads and editorial — barely a dozen messages were uncovered.

This week, MultiCultClassics presents the rare findings.

Essay 995


From Advertising Age’s Letters To The Editor…

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Garfield Indian comment insensitive and offensive

RE: Bob Garfield’s “This time, Vegas tourism gets the credit it deserves” (AA, Aug. 21). “Vegas is overbuilt at the moment and facing stiff competition from the Indian tribes our forebears somehow forgot to slaughter.”

Deplorable at any time, but in this day and age, and from an authority on PR and media? If this is acceptable editorial, then close the doors now because: 1) The thinking world has left you behind and you are no longer relevant; 2) you are doing more harm than good by writing; 3) your staff is likely on drugs so powerful that they forgot what their jobs were, the responsibility to society they hold as journalists and how to write with an ounce of creative juice or wordsmithing talent!

Absolutely deplorable! I hope you get sued or something.

Fraser Rennie
Owner
York Durham Sign
Sutton West, Ontario, Canada

Essay 994


This Graco advertisement was probably created by simpletons.

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For the past few weeks, MultiCultClassics has been paging through general market magazines in search of advertising featuring Black characters. The list included Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, People, Us, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Parents, Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Forbes and many more.

Excluded were layouts with Black sports figures, celebrities and super models. Additionally, ads depicting group photos including token Black figures were nixed. The goal was to determine the true diversity of the general market adscape.

After poring over scores of publications — and literally thousands of pages of ads and editorial — barely a dozen messages were uncovered.

This week, MultiCultClassics presents the rare findings.

Essay 993


Midweek madness in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• RadioShack fired 400 employees via email on Tuesday. The message included, “The work force reduction notification is currently in progress. Unfortunately your position is one that has been eliminated.” You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers — which will be sent electronically.

• The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III led a protest outside CBS headquarters in New York to complain about the decision to segregate contestants by race in the upcoming season of “Survivor.” Butts remarked, “I thought the writers and producers and executives of CBS are more intelligent and more creative than to have to pander to the worst in human nature.” The man clearly has not watched CBS sitcom “Three and a Half Men.”

• Andrew Young and Wal-Mart are facing a $7.5 million lawsuit for derogatory remarks Young made a few weeks ago (see Essay 951). A Korean grocery group in California filed the lawsuit, charging Young and the mega-retailer with libel. Young probably thought, “Hmmmm. $7.5 million will buy a week’s worth of groceries from a typical Korean convenience store.”

• The Wall Street Journal reported on a survey showing many Hurricane Katrina survivors have suffered a heavy psychological toll. According to the story, “Signs of distress ranged from frequent nightmares and irritability to debilitating anxiety and phobias.” Meanwhile, members of the Bush administration continue to sleep like babies.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Essay 992


In Splendaville, Black people wear strange outfits.

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For the past few weeks, MultiCultClassics has been paging through general market magazines in search of advertising featuring Black characters. The list included Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, People, Us, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Parents, Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Forbes and many more.

Excluded were layouts with Black sports figures, celebrities and super models. Additionally, ads depicting group photos including token Black figures were nixed. The goal was to determine the true diversity of the general market adscape.

After poring over scores of publications — and literally thousands of pages of ads and editorial — barely a dozen messages were uncovered.

This week, MultiCultClassics presents the rare findings.

Essay 991


Rappers rule in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Foxy Brown pleaded guilty to beating manicurists, receiving a sentence that includes three years probation and attendance at anger-management courses. However, minutes after the sentence, the rap diva tried to change her plea. “After conferring with my attorney, I’m not pleading guilty!” hollered Brown. “I’m innocent in this case! You were rushing me!” The judge refused Brown’s protests. Gee, Foxy can’t get to those anger-management courses too soon.

• Eminem teamed with Nike to create limited-edition kicks that will be auctioned for charity. Eight sets of the special shoes will go on the auction block. Bidding will start at 50 Cent.

Essay 990


Um, why does having “Loser boyfriends” necessitate owning a Stainmaster carpet?

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For the past few weeks, MultiCultClassics has been paging through general market magazines in search of advertising featuring Black characters. The list included Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, People, Us, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Parents, Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Forbes and many more.

Excluded were layouts with Black sports figures, celebrities and super models. Additionally, ads depicting group photos including token Black figures were nixed. The goal was to determine the true diversity of the general market adscape.

After poring over scores of publications — and literally thousands of pages of ads and editorial — barely a dozen messages were uncovered.

This week, MultiCultClassics presents the rare findings.

Essay 989


Cosby and me: Why we don’t see eye-to-eye

By Michael Eric Dyson, the author of “Is Bill Cosby Right?” and a professor of humanities at the University of Pennsylvania

For more than a year, I’ve been embroiled in a public debate with Bill Cosby about poor blacks. Cosby has been harshly critical of the poor, blaming them for their plight and arguing that personal responsibility is the key to their success. Cosby has dismissed both social forces and the legacy of racism in berating the poor for their many failures--bad parenting, bad language and bad behavior.

I have acknowledged that personal responsibility is an important element in all people’s flourishing. I have also argued that it is naive and irresponsible to ignore the negative impact of low wages, poor health care, persistent prejudice and conservative public policies on the lives of the black poor.

Recently, civil rights leader (and my dear friend) Rev. Jesse Jackson and columnist Clarence Page have entered the fray. I’m afraid they’ve both missed the point of my criticism of Cosby’s beliefs.

In an open letter, Jackson contends that my “attacks on Dr. Bill Cosby are too harsh,” and that it is “one thing to disagree with his views, but quite another to personally denigrate him to make one’s point.” Instead of saying how this is the case, Jackson defends Cosby by chronicling his generosity to Jackson’s organizations. Jackson also points to Cosby’s pioneering role in defeating racial stereotypes as a reason to admire him.

True, but that has little to do with the legitimacy of my criticism of Cosby’s stern rebuke to the poor. In the absence of any supporting evidence, it might appear that Jackson is arguing that the very act of my disagreeing with Cosby is to denigrate him. But that would mean that kowtowing to the rich and mighty had replaced the role of social criticism and, presumably, strong black leadership: to speak truth to power and defend the vulnerable.

Jackson is justly famous for doing both. Renowned scholar John Hope Franklin reminded him of it recently in a public forum. When Jackson asked Franklin about Cosby’s comments about poor black folk, Franklin said that too many influential blacks have been “co-opted by white people” and have “betrayed their own race.” Franklin urged Jackson to keep up his fight for the voiceless.

In a profile of Jackson by Don Terry in the Tribune Sunday magazine last year, Jackson said that while he agreed with much that Cosby had to say, he thought the comedian’s words were too harsh and lacked context. I agree with Jackson’s assessment, one that I think he should have repeated in his open letter to me. Jackson calls for a balanced approach to our problems: Black folk must exercise personal responsibility as we fight “institutional inequality and injustice.” I agree. But Cosby’s stark insistence on personal responsibility while slighting institutional impediments is a gross distortion of the situation of the black poor.

Jackson knows better. He has criticized others for holding such out-of-kilter views. He must summon the courage to confront Cosby.

Clarence Page’s arguments about my take on Cosby are rooted in celebrity worship more than persuasive reasoning. Page appears to have reneged on his journalistic duty to maintain at least the semblance of fairness, even for a columnist, when he gushes over a call from Cosby that includes saying hello to Page’s son, “scoring some rare cool points for me in the process.” Page’s “heart pounded” as he wondered what Cosby wanted with him.

Cosby wanted to complain about the media and me, especially my insistence that behavioral modification, while intrinsically appealing, would not clear the path to social prosperity for the poor. Page also took issue with me, saying that my argument is “wrong, dangerously wrong in the disrespect it pays to the value of good behavior,” and that many blacks could attest that it “beats drugs, crime, abuse, child neglect and other forms of destructive behavior.”

My beef, however, is not with behavior; it is with those who exaggerate its influence to sting the poor for their troubles while overlooking the unjust arrangements that reinforce their poverty, something that good behavior doesn’t have the power to remove. If it did, poor black folk who behaved well in slavery would have been freed.

Page insists that I “must be delighted” by all the controversy, since “overreaction helps book sales.” It helps stand-up gigs even more so, especially since they are largely subscribed by the same white audience Cosby refuses to publicly scorn or alienate.

Unlike his colorblind comedy, Cosby’s harsh criticisms of the poor are curiously segregated. That ought to leave Jackson and Page, champions of integration, more than a little dismayed. Unless, of course, Cosby gets another pass.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Essay 988


The guy in this Visa layout is probably waiting for his next advertising gig. Don’t hold your breath, man.

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For the past few weeks, MultiCultClassics has been paging through general market magazines in search of advertising featuring Black characters. The list included Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, People, Us, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Parents, Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Forbes and many more.

Excluded were layouts with Black sports figures, celebrities and super models. Additionally, ads depicting group photos including token Black figures were nixed. The goal was to determine the true diversity of the general market adscape.

After poring over scores of publications — and literally thousands of pages of ads and editorial — barely a dozen messages were uncovered.

This week, MultiCultClassics presents the rare findings.

Essay 987


Political maneuvering in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (pictured above) apologized for his comments regarding the World Trade Center site. “I wish I would have basically said that it was an undeveloped site, which it is,” said Nagin. Instead, when Nagin was originally pressed about the slow progress of rebuilding efforts in New Orleans, he remarked, “You guys in New York can’t get a hole in the ground fixed, and it’s five years later. So let’s be fair.” Nagin continues to have a problem with the hole in his head — his mouth, that is.

• The Christian Science Monitor reported that Black candidates for major political offices hit a record high in 2006. There are a whopping six men running for senator and governor positions — and three are Republicans. However, the story proclaimed, “Ultimately, all six of the African-Americans running for Senate and state house could end up losing.” Hey, let’s not call the elections before any votes have been cast. Click on the essay title above to read the full details.

Essay 986


AARP must have a large number of Black members, because its magazine contained an unprecedented two ads with Black characters. Maybe they should change their name to African American Retired Persons.

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For the past few weeks, MultiCultClassics has been paging through general market magazines in search of advertising featuring Black characters. The list included Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, People, Us, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Parents, Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Forbes and many more.

Excluded were layouts with Black sports figures, celebrities and super models. Additionally, ads depicting group photos including token Black figures were nixed. The goal was to determine the true diversity of the general market adscape.

After poring over scores of publications — and literally thousands of pages of ads and editorial — barely a dozen messages were uncovered.

This week, MultiCultClassics presents the rare findings.

Essay 985


From The Chicago Sun-Times...

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Tough job awaits new Urban League chief

BY LAURA WASHINGTON

If there is a civil rights group as moribund as the Chicago Urban League, I haven’t seen it. Serendipitously, there will soon be a fresh breeze blowing through the league’s headquarters at 45th Street and Michigan Avenue.

On Oct. 1, Cheryle Jackson will take charge as the president and CEO. When I heard the 45-member Urban League board had chosen Jackson, I was more than pleasantly surprised. I was stunned -- that a board that has presided over this fading institution mustered the chutzpa to make such a nontraditional choice.

Jackson, 41, is the first black woman to head the league. The Chicago native comes from a three-year stint as deputy chief of staff and communications director for Gov. Blagojevich. Her portfolio also includes tours as a public relations executive for National Public Radio and top jobs in government and public affairs at Amtrak.

She also brings precious few, if any ties to the stodgy, risk-averse boardroom jockeys who have dominated the organization for decades.

At 90, the Chicago Urban League has betrayed its storied history. The agency has grown passive and lethargic. Many observers have predicted Jackson will bring a new approach to civil rights activism. I would settle for some leadership. The problem is not so much that the agency is out-of-date, it’s out of steam.

Jackson will replace James Compton, who ran the agency for 34 years. When Compton took over, Mayor Richard J. Daley was still in his reign and the Sears Tower was under construction. Compton can claim many accomplishments: He has built an institution with a $6 million-plus budget. Its focus on job enhancement, education and research has drawn generous support from the Chicago establishment.

Yet I say it’s nearly dead -- why? The list is long, but here’s one number to ponder: 500. That’s how many paying members the league claims, in a city with more than a million black residents. The league has a profile bordering on invisibility (Ralph Ellison could relate). Whenever there is a crisis or controversy in the black community, the league's voice has been muted at best. Black Chicago, in fact, black America, is awash in a boatload of problems. We don’t need any of the league’s repetitive studies to tell us what they are, and have been for decades: racism, single-woman-headed households, no jobs, too many black men in jail.

Jackson praises the league’s legacy and pledges to “build on the successes of Jim Compton.” Yet she acknowledges the challenges. While not ready to lay out her full agenda, she did share a few budding ideas. Noting that the Urban League has historically focused on job training and placement for the inner-city jobless, she is looking to focus on economic development and job creation. “We train people for jobs, but where are the jobs? How do you attract commerce?”

Jackson mentioned the “exciting” cultural and economic resurrection of neighborhoods like Bronzeville, then recalls a recent drive through Englewood, where she saw “a deep and abiding lack of economic infrastructure” and “blighted corner after blighted corner after blighted corner.”

So what’s next? She is looking at ways to attract commerce, real estate and business development, and capital investment. Her keywords: re-invention and innovation.

So what should a civil rights organization look like today? “Maybe it should look like a venture capital fund,” Jackson ponders. “Maybe it should look like Wall Street.”

Education and advocacy are also priorities, she says, along with building membership. Jackson says she’ll deploy her communications savvy to raise the league’s profile and “engage” its constituents. “We’re going to be out there on the streets,” she assures.

That’s a tough one. The marching days for civil rights organizations are misty memories. Much of the league’s budget comes from the largess of corporate and government sources. Business and government honchos, however, aren’t keen on controversy and critiques, especially when they’re paying the bills. Jackson will have to ramp up the membership to give her backup when it’s time to take on a hot topic or sacred cow.

Black folks can’t afford to work in a vacuum. The league must devise programming that builds alliances with other urban constituencies like Latinos, gays and lesbians and women to tackle complex concerns like immigration, gay marriage, AIDS and the repugnant exploitation of women that’s so popular with the hip-hop crowd.

Watch out. There’s a new Jackson on the scene.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Essay 984


The fools responsible for this Evian ad should be sent to drug and alcohol detox treatment.

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For the past few weeks, MultiCultClassics has been paging through general market magazines in search of advertising featuring Black characters. The list included Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, People, Us, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Parents, Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Forbes and many more.

Excluded were layouts with Black sports figures, celebrities and super models. Additionally, ads depicting group photos including token Black figures were nixed. The goal was to determine the true diversity of the general market adscape.

After poring over scores of publications — and literally thousands of pages of ads and editorial — barely a dozen messages were uncovered.

This week, MultiCultClassics presents the rare findings.

Essay 983


Belting out the news with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The New York Post reported that Foxy Brown was acting crazy before allegedly lifting two expensive belts from a trendy boutique (see Essay 978). The rap diva apparently threatened a family friend just before heading to the store, screaming at the friend for no apparent reason. “She just flipped,” said the family friend. “She was just shouting — and then she threatened to attack me.” Yeah, desperately seeking accessories can drive folks over the edge.

• Lil’ Kim may find herself in a catfight, as a Jamaican reggae singer is suing the rap star for allegedly stealing lyrics. A song from Lil’ Kim’s 2005 album, The Naked Truth, sounds extremely similar to a reggae tune released in 1997. What’s more, Lil’ Kim even admitted being a great fan of the female reggae artist, actually recording with her in 1999. Yeah, sounds like the recently released rapper is in a lil’ more trouble.

• California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has settled a libel suit with a British TV personality who claims the actor-politician groped her in 2000 and defamed her in 2003. “The parties are content to put this matter behind them and are pleased that this legal dispute has now been settled,” said Schwarzenegger’s lawyers. Yeah, Schwarzenegger probably sent her off with a friendly pat on the ass.

• The Chicago Urban League has a new chief — Cheryle Jackson. Founded in 1916, the organization is dedicated to fighting discrimination in education and employment. Boasting a membership exceeding 1,100, the Chicago Urban League offers programs in youth mentoring, financial counseling, job training and placement, affordable housing, health services and more. Jackson plans to focus on reaching the younger generations while moving the organization forward. She said, “I would like to take the traditional tools of civil rights and merge them with the tools used on Wall Street and Madison Avenue.” Um, somebody better tell her about the discrimination tools used on Madison Avenue.

Essay 982


For the past few weeks, MultiCultClassics has been paging through general market magazines in search of advertising featuring Black characters. The list included Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, People, Us, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Parents, Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Forbes and many more.

Excluded were layouts with Black sports figures, celebrities and super models. Additionally, ads depicting group photos including token Black figures were nixed. The goal was to determine the true diversity of the general market adscape.

After poring over scores of publications — and literally thousands of pages of ads and editorial — barely a dozen messages were uncovered.

This week, MultiCultClassics presents the rare findings.

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Depend shows anything’s possible by letting Blacks hawk adult diapers. Sheeee-it.

Essay 981


From The New York Post…

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CLA$$ SELECTION AT IVY HALLS

INJUSTICE LEAGUE REVEALED

By WILLIAM GEORGIADES

The country’s most elite colleges turn away deserving students to admit the less talented offspring of alumni and of wealthy and powerful parents, according to an explosive new book.

“One of the last taboos among America’s aristocracy is talking — or writing — about pulling strings in college admissions,” writes Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Golden in “The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges — And Who Gets Left Outside the Gates.”

In what Golden calls “affirmative action for rich white people,” colleges like Brown, Princeton and Harvard ignore poor SAT scores and other factors in favor of alumni connections, celebrity parents and generous donors.

An advance copy of the book, being published by Crown and due in bookstores Sept. 5, cites the following examples:

- Christopher Ovitz, son of Michael Ovitz, “had a mediocre academic record and a middle-school suspension for swinging a baseball bat at a female classmate.” Brown University admitted him as “a special student.” He didn’t last a year.

- The now-disgraced New Jersey real-estate developer Charlie Kushner pledged $2.5 million to Harvard in 1998. A year later, his son Jared, who recently bought The New York Observer, was admitted to Harvard despite having test scores “well below Ivy League standards.” Then “Kushner gave $3 million to endow an undergraduate deanship at NYU in July 2001; his daughter, Dara, enrolled that fall.” In 2003, Jared went on to NYU Law.

- Model Lauren Bush, niece of President Bush, applied to Princeton in February 2002, a month after its application deadline had passed. She was granted a “special dispensation” despite “SAT scores considerably below the typical Princeton student.”

- David Zucconi, a Brown administrator, “helped guide Jane Fonda’s daughter, Vanessa Vadim, through the admission process.” Later, the actress “gave $750,000 anonymously for minority scholarships.”

Golden details how “university presidents generally have a right-hand man, from Joel Fleishman at Duke to the late David Zucconi at Brown, whose role is to gratify key donors and alumni, including facilitating the admission of their children.”

How unfair is it?

The sons of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and former Vice President Al Gore, “both middling students who preferred partying to homework,” according to Golden, were admitted to Princeton and Harvard, respectively, “where their fathers had gone before them.”

Elite offspring who do get in say there’s a reason for the uneven selection system.

Frances Cashin, who followed her dad, Richard, an investment manager and big-time donor, into Harvard, told the author that “any college has to be careful about the students it lets in from a social perspective … It’s important to Harvard to have people who know what it means to work hard, make good friends, and go out at night. A lot more alumni children are well-rounded kids, probably because they come from more stable families.”

But so many spaces at elite universities are reserved for well-connected students, lamented a Notre Dame official quoted by the author, that “the poor schmuck who has to get in on his own has to walk on water.”

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Essay 980


Blacks must keep their eyes on the truth

By Stanley Crouch

We live in a peculiarly twisting and turning time in which the responsibility of defining our troubles becomes ever more befuddling. Now Juan Williams, because of his new book, “Enough,” is getting the treatment.

Williams, so goes the critics’ tales, is a man who went blind in the long storm of racial trouble and has converted to that lunatic, black middle class, which rejects its lower-class brothers and can do nothing but “blame the victim.”

How did Williams become excluded from the squad of acceptable black commentators after debating the right-wing gang on Fox News, writing a biography of Thurgood Marshall and another book examining the role of faith in Afro-American progress, and working on the impressive PBS documentary of the civil rights movement, “Eyes on the Prize”?

Williams would be just fine if he had denounced Bill Cosby instead of championing the comedian’s opinions and basing “Enough” on substantial research that corroborates Cosby’s attacks on the self-destructive behavior in the black lower class.

“What happens,” says Williams, “is that you become some sort of a leper if you don’t lockstep your opinions in line with white liberals. They run the programming of CBS, NBC and ABC, and they don’t want you to rock the boat of received opinion. I have done my homework and I have seen these problems grow to epidemic proportions. But I have to say that these white liberals have bought the line of the do-nothing black leadership on the one hand, and have been convinced that the high dropout rate, the violence and the misogyny you hear in one rap recording after another are just natural to black culture and not an aberration.”

Williams means that what he calls a “culture of failure” is a historical aberration. Once upon a time in America, black people from the top to the bottom realized the importance of education in supplying some of the most reliable tools with which to combat the limitations imposed by racism. Though 500 black men just graduated from Morehouse College, there is now a 50% dropout rate among black high school students in America. Though Dorothy Height and the Council of Negro Women warned against irresponsible sexual behavior many years ago, 70% of black American children are born out of wedlock.

Racists might look at the gloomy numbers and say that they were right all along: Black men and women are not ready for civilization. But we have learned so much about the gene pool over the past 50 years that we can now dismiss such stupidity and realize that what we are seeing has less to do with genetic doom than with learned behavior, or learned misbehavior. It is still, however, an inarguable form of doom.

I strongly recommend “Enough” as a very welcome turning away from explaining everything in terms of white America’s unlimited power and unlimited disregard. Had black Americans ever truly believed that, there never would have been a Thurgood Marshall or a Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and all of those who came before them. In our moment, Bill Cosby opened the door for new discussion. For the good of all, Juan Williams is helping to hold that door open. If you enter, you will risk nothing but your received opinions.

Essay 979


This Asian American-targeted ad is abnormally awful.

Essay 978


Not-so-funny business in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Forbes magazine sparked outrage by publishing an editorial titled, “Don’t Marry a Career Woman” — compelling men to avoid such unions or face disaster. The writer referenced studies that showed career women are more likely to cheat on their spouses and get divorced. “If they do have kids, they’re more likely to be unhappy about it. … The more successful she is, the more likely she is to grow dissatisfied with you,” wrote the editor. “The piece was intended to be part academic and part humorous,” said editor-in-chief Steve Forbes. “Instead, it profoundly offended hardworking career women everywhere. We deeply regret having done so.” Bet Forbes caught heat from his wife and five daughters.

• Foxy Brown is being accused of stealing two $400 belts from a boutique in Greenwich Village. The rap diva allegedly threw a fit upon learning the shop had not finished tailoring some lingerie, ultimately grabbing the belts and storming out. “Honestly, I never thought she would do anything like that,” said the boutique owner. “I was shocked. Who does she think she is?” Seems like the boutique owner got off easy, as Foxy has been known to become physically violent over bad manicures.

• Elton John wants to produce a hip-hop album. “I want to work with Pharrell, Timbaland, Snoop, Kanye, Eminem and just see what happens,” said John. “It may be a disaster, it could be fantastic, but you don’t know until you try. … I want to bring my songs and melodies to hip-hop beats.” Maybe he could belt out some music with Foxy Brown.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Essay 977


Yo, this is definitely not the best ad in the house.

Essay 976


Maybe the headline should have read, “Fits like a glove.”

Essay 975


Dealing with change in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The Hitler’s Cross restaurant in Mumbai, India, will change its name after protests. For history buffs, while Nazis adopted the swastika as their own, it originated as an ancient Hindu symbol of good luck and is still present throughout India. “Once [people] told me how upset they were with the name, I decided to change it,” said the restaurant owner. “I don’t want to do business by hurting people.” Alternative names probably include Kaddafi’s Kitchen and bin Laden’s Bistro.

• A Louisiana school bus driver has been suspended after ordering Black kids to sit at the back of the vehicle. “All nine [Black] children were assigned to two seats in the back of the bus and the older ones had to hold the smaller ones in their laps,” said one parent. Back to school means back to segregation.

• Following Dell’s record-breaking battery recall, Apple instructed customers to return 1.8 million laptop batteries. Wonder how this might change the debates between the Mac and PC characters in those annoying commercials.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Essay 974


Basketball is to Black advertising what soccer is to Hispanic advertising.

Essay 973


From DiversityInc.com…

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Rush Limbaugh Steps In It Again With ‘Survivor’ Comments

Controversial talk-show host Rush Limbaugh predicts a Latino will win the upcoming 13th season of “Survivor” because blacks are not good swimmers and Latinos “will do things other people won’t do.” 

Yesterday after CBS announced that it would break down the tribes on the hit reality show “Survivor” by race (Asians, Latinos, blacks and whites), Limbaugh went on a racially insensitive tirade. He suggested on his nationally syndicated radio program, that the competition in “Survivor” will not “be fair if there’s a lot of water events.” In support of this assertion, he cited a March 2 HealthDay article reporting that “young blacks—especially males—are much more likely to drown in pools than whites.”

The HealthDay article he based his argument on, however, did not address the swimming abilities of blacks in general. HealthDay, according to Media Matters, reported that “[r]esearchers don’t know why black kids are at higher risk of drowning,” that “[m]ost of the black [drowning] victims … drowned in public pools,” and that the “study didn’t examine whether the victims had taken swimming lessons or whether the pools were supervised by lifeguards.” Additionally, the article noted that according to the study, “people from poorer families were more likely to drown … regardless of race,” and that one author of the study suggested “[f]uture research” will be done to “examine whether swimming instruction reduces the risk of drowning.”

Limbaugh said that there “are many characteristics … that you would think would give [the African-American tribe] the lead and the heads up in terms of skill and athleticism and so forth.” But as far as an early prediction on a winner, he is counting on the Latino tribe to win unless they “start fighting for supremacy amongst themselves.” He went on to say that Latinos have “probably shown the most survival tactics,” and that they “have shown a remarkable ability to cross borders.”

Limbaugh, not wanting to leave anyone out of his offensive speech, said “the Asian-American tribe”—whom he called “the brainiacs of the bunch”—probably will “outsmart everybody” but would not be the winners. He went on to say that “the Native Americans were excluded, because they were at one with the land and they would probably have an unfair advantage.”

In response to a black caller, Limbaugh said that “the white tribe would be the best swimmers” based on the performance of white athletes at the Olympics. After apparently disconnecting or cutting the volume level of the caller, according to Media Matters for America, Limbaugh said: “[Y]ou’re saying I’m being racist because I’m saying blacks can’t swim … I mentioned the swimming comment only because it’s not going to be fair if there is a lot of water competition in this. It just isn’t. It is not a racial or racist comment at all.”

Essay 972


Now this is messed up. Mini-Wheats illustrates big-eared geeks for two separate markets. And the Hispanic kid even gets a soccer jersey for added relevance. Damn.

Essay 971


Here’s the Hispanic-targeted version of the ad concept presented in Essay 942. There’s probably a Native American-targeted version featuring a father and son building a toy teepee.

Essay 970


Hunting for news with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• SWAT teams may increase their presence along the U.S.-Mexico border. The special units have been dealing with drug dealers and human traffickers since the 1980s, staging “soft” ambushes against a sometimes heavily-armed target. “We will go in hard, often with a flash-bang grenade to maintain the element of surprise,” said one SWAT member. “Even if they have weapons, it can turn a lethal situation into a non-lethal situation. … We are paid to hunt people and we think we are smarter than they are.” The hunters who are not smarter comprise The Minuteman Project.

• A new survey showed nearly 20 percent of female cadets at The Citadel claimed being sexually assaulted since signing up at the military college. Plus, nearly 4 percent of male cadets reported instances of sexual assault. Is this part of the ultimate training for serving in the armed forces?

• Foxy Brown was a no-show for her latest court appearance. She probably didn’t receive the phone call to appear because she was using her cell phone to beat manicurists (see Essay 806).

• Wendy’s completed its switch to using new cooking oil to reduce the levels of trans fat in menu offerings. The fast feeder becomes the first major chain to make such a change. Mickey D’s continues to drag its McFeet on the issue, opting to change COOs instead.

Essay 969


The Volkswagen Jetta “Safe Happens” television campaign presents car crashes. In this Hispanic-targeted print ad, the typography is a total wreck.

Essay 968


From The New York Times…

----------------------------------------

‘Survivor’ to Divide Teams Along Racial Lines

By BILL CARTER

For the first time since it went on the air in 2000, the hit CBS reality television program “Survivor” will divide its teams — or tribes, as they are known on the show — along racial lines.

For the first half of the series this fall, four teams of five members will be made up of blacks, Asian-Americans, Hispanics and whites. They will compete in weekly challenges against each other, and the losing group will have to vote out a member of its own team.

Mark Burnett, the series producer, said in a telephone interview yesterday that the decision to organize the teams by race was made in group discussions with CBS executives and was in no way intended to promote racial divisiveness.

“In America today,” Mr. Burnett said, “I really don’t believe there are many people who hate each other because of their race. But even though people may work together, they do tend in their private lives to divide along social and ethnic lines.”

Mr. Burnett noted that in many cities, members of ethnic groups tended to cluster in neighborhoods. “In New York you will find areas like Little Afghanistan,” he said. “Maybe in the year 3010, when we’re all coffee-colored, it really will make no difference. But right now, it is what it is.”

Mr. Burnett said that “Survivor” and other shows had often been criticized for a lack of ethnic diversity. “We’re always hearing about how we only have two token blacks on the show,” he said. And the predominance of whites has been reflected in the show’s applicants, with more than 80 percent of them white, he said.

For the new contest, Mr. Burnett said, the show reached out to social and church groups to bring in more applicants of different backgrounds. He said the results had been gratifying. “We got so many good people we expanded the number of contestants to 20 instead of the usual 16,” he said.

Both CBS and Mr. Burnett acknowledged that the new format could be criticized. “I know it’s going to be controversial,” he said. “I’m not an idiot.”

In a statement, CBS said it “fully recognizes the controversial nature” of the format change. But it expressed confidence in the program’s ability to handle the situation sensitively.

The change leaves CBS open to charges that it was done to increase the ratings for “Survivor,” which, while still a hit, has had a diminished audience in recent years. In addition, in the new television season, CBS is facing a serious new challenge on Thursdays, the “Survivor” broadcast night. ABC has moved its strongest drama, “Grey’s Anatomy,” to Thursday nights at 9 to oppose CBS’s top show, “CSI.” ABC has also placed its most promising new series, “Ugly Betty,” on Thursday at 8 to compete with “Survivor.”

But Mr. Burnett said he was not making the change as a ratings strategy. “We have hardly been hurting in the ratings,” he said, noting that “Survivor” still attracted about 17 million viewers a week last season.

Instead, he called the move “an interesting social experiment.”

“I don’t think it would be valid in the regular modern world,” Mr. Burnett said. “But this is suddenly a very different playing field. People here are playing for a million dollars. They’re going to want to know if you’re going to vote them out. Or if they’re hungry, they’ll want to know if you know how to catch a fish. They’re not going to care if you’re green or Martian.”

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Essay 967


“I don’t want to be younger. I just want to look it.”

Hey, Christie, your teen-chasing hubby isn’t buying that notion.

Essay 966


You don’t have to be fluent in Spanish to understand this ad sucks.

Essay 965


International affairs and foreign concepts in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• A new restaurant in Mumbai, India, has sparked outrage with its name — The Hitler’s Cross. The d├ęcor features portraits of the former German leader, along with swastikas and Nazi colors. “We wanted to be different. This is one name that will stay in people’s minds,” said owner Punit Shablok. “We are not promoting Hitler. But we want to tell people we are different in the way he was different.” The restaurant manager added, “This place is not about wars or crimes, but where people come to relax and enjoy a meal.” Entrees are probably baked in Auschwitz ovens.

• A Sudanese writer claiming to have been Osama bin Laden’s captive mistress has penned a memoir that reveals the terrorist leader has a crush on Whitney Houston. The writer said bin Laden joked about knocking off Bobby Brown and inviting Houston into his harem. “He mentioned her constantly, how beautiful she is, what a nice smile, how truly Islamic she is, but just brainwashed by American culture and her husband,” said the memoirist. Um, Whitney’s “brainwashing” can be attributed to foreign substances versus American culture.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Essay 964


Most folks are familiar with the United Negro College Fund. But you probably haven’t heard of the American Indian College Fund. Why does it seem like Native Americans remain on the bottom of the minority totem pole?

Click on the essay title above to learn more.