Tuesday, November 04, 2008

6121: What Obama Means To Mad Ave.

MultiCultClassics has addressed this topic before, but it seems fitting to revisit the matter on Election Day.

Last week, The Big Tent staged a battle between Ken Wheaton and Karl Carter over a recent Subway promotion that certain folks deemed racist. More provocative than the dueling posts were the comments they inspired. Specifically, it’s becoming a trend for people to confront today’s racist episodes by offering Barack Obama as a lecturing point.

The typical perspective (usually delivered by non-minorities and/or neo-conservatives) runs something like, “Sure, racism exists, and it always will. But the right approach—as witnessed by Obama’s success—is not to whine and pick apart every little nuance and cry, ‘Life’s unfair!’ Rather, you should rise above it all ala the Democratic presidential candidate. You should emulate Obama.”

This position is particularly peculiar when coming from an advertising industry denizen.

For starters, let’s recognize the specter of racism has hardly been inconspicuous during Obama’s campaign. From death threats to cultural dissing, the bigots have been quite vocal and visible. Even the moderately clueless types have fumbled inappropriate words and actions. So it’s premature to declare the dream is no longer deferred.

Obama’s accomplishments to date may be evidence that we’re moving closer towards equal opportunities for everyone. But Obama also exposes how Madison Avenue lags far behind the collective society. Obama represents the supposed post-racial America, while Madison Avenue is still stuck in a pre-Civil Rights time warp.

We should definitely celebrate the historic achievements, regardless of the final vote tally. However, please don’t insist minorities ought to pattern themselves after Obama. Why not request Madison Avenue reflect the general population instead? Additionally, let’s demand that the advertising industry’s ruling majority start acting like Obama too.

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