Friday, September 30, 2005

Essay 166

Talking shit with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

“Can we all get along?” Apparently, Rodney King can’t get along with his loved ones. He was arrested following a domestic dispute where he allegedly threatened to kill his daughter and girlfriend. He even brandished a pistol, which turned out to be a toy. No word if any of this was caught on videotape.

“It’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down,” said William Bennett. Wonder where that quote might appear in The Book of Virtues or Bennett’s other children’s books. Perhaps the curmudgeon needs to review his own inspirational bullshit.

“Combined with a good economy and continued negative news from the Middle East, that means recruiting in fiscal year 2006 will be challenging,” said an Army official in response to 2005 being the worst recruiting year since about 1979. So why did the Army choose to extend its relationship with Leo Burnett again? If Burnett hopes to reverse the numbers, the company’s staffers may be forced to enlist themselves. Given the rumored low morale at the agency, combat duty in Iraq might seem like a preferable alternative.

“Tool usage in wild apes provides us with valuable insights into the evolution of our own species and the abilities of other species. Seeing it for the first time in gorillas is important on many different levels,” states a report detailing the discovery of gorillas working with tools in the wild. Perhaps the Army should consider gorillas as a new target for recruitment efforts. Or Sears could boost its sagging Craftsman sales.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Essay 165

Spend a few seconds with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Mickey D’s plans to halt sales of toasted deli sandwiches — an effort originally designed to steal Subway customers — because the required work and resources make the items unprofitable. Apparently, producing fresh offerings conflicts with the fast food giant’s core objectives.

• Minority employees are suing FedEx for alleged discriminatory practices including unequal pay, passed promotions and poor work reviews. Wonder if the legal papers were delivered to the company via FedEx.

• California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a same-sex marriage bill. Gays were heard protesting, “I’ll be back door.”

• Flight attendants are complaining over Jodie Foster’s new flick, which allegedly portrays crew members in a negative light. But they didn’t bother boycotting Soul Plane?!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Essay 164

Juan Valdez and Conchita joined the Geico Gecko as the country’s favorite advertising icons for 2005. The winners will be placed in the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame. Wonder if the gala ceremony will be attended by prominent Latino advertising icons like the Frito Bandito, Taco Bell Chihuahua, Chiquita Banana and Ricardo Montalban. Next year, look for a strong showing by Uncle Ben, Aunt Jemima, Pine-Sol Sistah and Billy Dee Williams — or else Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton will be staging boycotts.

Essay 163

MultiCultClassics Minutes Presents Unfamiliar Quotations…

“Had this been a rich, lily-white suburban area that got hit, you think they would have had to wait five days to get food or water? When the hurricane hit in Florida, Bush made sure those people got help the next day. But now, when you are dealing with a majority poorer class of black people, it takes five days? Then you still don’t send help but instead send the National Guard to ‘maintain order’? Are you kidding me?”
>>Etan Thomas, forward-center for the Washington Wizards, commenting about President Bush and the response to Hurricane Katrina victims.

“The only thing we see about these people on the news is what happened in the Superdome…They’re rapists and thugs and murderers. I’m telling you, half of them have criminal records. I’ve worked all my life to have what I have. I can’t lose it, and I can’t stand guard 24 hours a day.”
>>Philip Devall, White resident of Greensburg, Louisiana, commenting about Black evacuees of the Hurricane Katrina disaster seeking shelter in his town.

“My understanding is that the KKK doesn’t even ban members by race.”
>>Rep. Stacey Campfield, White Tennessee lawmaker, commenting about being rejected from joining the state’s Black Legislative Caucus.

“Why he chose to focus on the Black Caucus, I have no idea other than he is crazy and a racist.”
>>Rep. Larry Miller, member of the Tennessee Black Legislative Caucus, commenting about Rep. Stacey Campfield.

“It is with tremendous pride and deep emotion that I am responding today to the call of destiny, which sometimes takes us in a direction you might never have imagined…I am turning a significant page in my own story as I set off on this new adventure with hope and determination.”
>>Michaelle Jean, the first Black person and only the third woman to be named the governor general of Canada, commenting at her inauguration ceremony.

Essay 162

The late edition of MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• New York Yankees all-star Derek Jeter was hit by a foul bawl — or more specifically, a foul letter. The hate mail, originally sent to Yankee Stadium, called Jeter “a traitor” for dating White women. Since 2002, dozens of similar messages have been mailed to prominent Black men involved with White women or having interracial parents. The FBI is investigating the matter. Looks like a simple case of major league bigotry.

• Lil’ Kim’s initial incarceration experiences have received some press coverage. The prison barber gave her a serious trim, hacking off her extensions. Funny, Martha Stewart managed to complete her sentence without mandatory alterations to her dated ‘do. Lil’ Kim remarked the fellow prisoners were “all cool people.” Right. It probably feels no different than appearing at The Source Awards.

• Another rapper avoided more time behind bars. Beanie Sigel was acquitted of nearly killing someone during a shootout at a Philadelphia strip club. Sigel was recently released from prison after serving almost a year for a federal weapons charge unrelated to the Philly gunplay. Lil’ Kim should’ve hired Sigel’s lawyer.

• A new study released by the Pew Hispanic Center revealed illegal immigrants outnumber legal immigrants. You think? Not sure why someone felt the need to conduct an official survey. Seems like anyone could have drawn the same conclusion without a shred of research. The term “illegal” may ultimately lose its negative connotations.

• D’Angelo announced he was fine and ready to start recording after an auto accident left him temporarily hospitalized. Too bad he’s been unable to recover from his career crash.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Essay 161

A catalogue from Paramount Market Publishing ( presents a cornucopia of books offering the keys to success for communicating to nearly every consumer segment imaginable. From kids to boomers, PMP covers it all. The Hispanic selections are particularly intriguing.

>The Whole Enchilada: Hispanic Marketing 101 by Juan Faura hypes, “Scores of easy-to-apply tips will help you make your business Hispanic-friendly.” But wait, there’s more. “Eight Laws of the Hispanic Universe…Five phrases that connect with any Latino consumer…Profiles of Eight individuals who represent the many faces of U.S. Hispanics.” Seems like a convenient roadmap to pigeonholing.

>Marketing to American Latinos: A Guide to the In-Culture Approach by M. Isabel Valdés is comprised of two volumes “by the marketer that American Demographics called the ‘21st Century Star of Multicultural Research.’” While not really explaining the “in-culture approach,” the entry lists introductions to “the New Latina and Generation Ñ.” Plus, readers will discover the “seven Hispanic age segments.” The two books can be yours for just $69.90 — what a bargain!

>Beyond Bodegas: Developing a Retail Relationship with Hispanic Customers by Jim Perkins hawks, “if you want to be successful in the lucrative Hispanic marketplace, you need to understand the dynamics of the community at the local level.” You think?

Why are these types of books always written by research people? It would be interesting to learn if folks at Hispanic advertising agencies — especially the creative staffers — would wholeheartedly endorse the allegedly insightful, instructional guidebooks. Do the authors inspire concepts…or formulas? And where are the books by creative leaders?

(stereo)Type your comments today!

Essay 160

Start off the final Monday of the month with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Advertisers are so desperate to jump onto the hip-hop bandwagon, they’ve started signing up unknown, untested rappers as spokespersons. 16-year-old singer Chris Brown will work for Champs stores, Rhymefest hooked up with RCA and Rhianna teamed with Procter & Gamble. On the one hand, the efforts can be extremely cost-effective, as contracts won’t come with megabuck price tags. Additionally, it’s always cool to demonstrate being in touch with underground, upcoming artists. But it’s wild to think Procter & Gamble may be down with 21st century culture.

• A recent survey showed 50 percent of European citizens have mastered a second language. Wonder how many are fluent in Fa shizzle speak.

• In Japan, white storks were released from a park as part of a plan to let the endangered species return to the wild. How typical. The white storks get freedom and protection, but what about the minority storks?

• Gregory Rodriguez, a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times, offered a compelling perspective about the future of New Orleans. Rodriguez recognizes the area will inevitably be rebuilt not by Gulf Coast residents; rather, Latino immigrants — particularly undocumented immigrants — will migrate to the area for the reconstruction efforts. Then they’ll wind up staying, recreating New Orleans into something closer to L.A. from an ethnic standpoint. The measures President Bush approved will make it all possible and probable. Wonder what Mexican President Vicente Fox will have to say, as his citizens will ultimately do the work that not even Blacks want to do in New Orleans.

• President Bush is under extraordinary pressure to nominate a woman or minority for the latest Supreme Court vacancy. Political analysts believe Bush could considerably help his party by selecting a Hispanic candidate. The perfect choice would be Carlos Mencia. Nobody makes more sense on today’s issues. Plus, he’s funny as hell.

• Looks like racial troubles at the University of Virginia (see Essay 151) have been simmering for quite some time. A survey conducted last year revealed 61 percent of the school’s White seniors — including students categorizing themselves as “other” — said race relations on campus were honky-dory. Oops, hunky-dory, that is. But only 29 percent of Black seniors felt it’s all good. The remaining 71 percent of Black seniors were probably busy avoiding cross burnings and hate crimes.

Essay 159

Heard it through the grapevine online…

“In a way it was sport…One day [another sergeant] shows up and tells a [prisoner] to grab a pole. He told him to bend over and broke the guy’s leg with a mini-Louisville Slugger, a metal bat…As long as no [prisoners] came up dead, it happened…We kept it to broken arms and legs.”
>>A soldier who served in Iraq, reporting new allegations of torture and abuse at prisoner camps. The Army has launched an investigation.

“There’s no question in my mind that if we had a draft we would not be at war in Iraq, because affluent families would not want to put their kids at risk…[The Army is] targeting poor White, Black and Hispanic high-schoolers in urban and rural areas with these ads.”
>>Representative Charles B. Rangel, a New York Democrat, responding to the Army’s marketing tactics.

…Last summer I was slapped for lieing to him and we made up but I asked for a divorce and he pinned me down and continued to hit me yelling “don't you leave me. Why are you leaving me.” He says I’m sorry I not a wife beatter my hand was open. It not like I did it for no made me do it. I’m now fearful of him and I want to get away safe & be happy. No I never called the police. I thought it would get better.
>>Text from petition filed by Andrea Kelly, wife of recording artist R. Kelly. Mrs. Kelly later agreed to drop the order of protection.

“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.”
>>Harry Belafonte, speaking during a benefit concert at New York’s Lincoln Center.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Essay 158

Here’s a provocative perspective from a Miami Herald columnist…


Katrina shows the poor still are a forgotten class


“George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” -- Kanye West

I think Kanye West is wrong.

George Bush ranks at 43 -- and dropping fast -- on my list of most-admired presidents, and yes, it can be fairly argued that some of his policies have been detrimental to black interests. But the same is true of virtually every president, and in any case, that’s not what West said. Rather, in his appearance on a hurricane relief telethon three weeks back, the young rapper, apparently frustrated by the laggard pace with which help was being sent to New Orleans, essentially accused the president of being a bigot.

It was a dumb accusation. Inaccurate, too, I think. Say what you will about him or them, Bush’s closeness to Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell suggests an ease around blacks -- OK, conservative blacks -- greater than virtually every president from his father on back. If he’s a racist, he’s not very good at it.

Still, West’s outburst has proved to be one of the signature moments of the monthlong debate over why so many black people were left alone to fend against Hurricane Katrina. Not that the propensity for saying dumb things on the subject was limited to black rappers. Some white conservatives have said New Orleans blacks were left behind because of a “welfare state mentality.” This supposed mentality, argued Rush Limbaugh on his radio program earlier this month, eroded their self-reliance, inducing them to wait for government help instead of saving themselves.


Which is a callous libel even by Limbaugh’s standards. I’ve seen white folks pleading for help a hundred times in the wake of earthquakes, mudslides, fires, floods and storms. I have yet to see that need cited as evidence of their lack of moral fiber.

Take the rapper and the right-winger as proof: Americans will never pass up a chance to falsely conflate race and class.

So it bears repeating: Black people with means were able to escape New Orleans, just the same as their white counterparts. The people who were left behind were stranded not because they were black, but because they were poor.

You might call that a distinction without a difference given that the poor are disproportionately black. I call it the basis for a fundamental realignment of American politics if ever the poor of all races and tribes finally realize they have more in common than they do in contention.

Not to give short shrift to the forces that have led black people to be overrepresented among the nation’s have-nots. My only point is that at the end of the day, poor is poor, color notwithstanding. And the poor in this country are ignored because they are ignorable, forgotten because they are forgettable. Where is their advocate? Who raises their issues and concerns? Where is their voice?


Not since Lyndon Johnson 40 years ago has a U.S. president made alleviating poverty the centerpiece of his domestic agenda. Argue all you want about the effectiveness of his Great Society, give Johnson this much credit: He knew the poor were there. He saw them.

They have grown less visible since. Nowadays, people in Kanye West’s field sell the lie that materialism is a virtue while those in Rush Limbaugh’s field sell the lie that poverty is a vice. And many of us simply forget that poverty is there, that American children hunger and American women need and American men lack and American people die for want of basic necessities. Were some of us not more aghast than we should have been at Katrina’s reminder that poverty endures? Was there not a “let them eat cake” cluelessness in Barbara Bush’s suggestion that the poor are better off, homes destroyed, sleeping in a sports arena?

Better question: How long before we stop asking questions that pain conscience? How long before we move on and pretend we didn’t see what we did?

Forgive my cynicism, but I suspect it won't be long at all before the forgettable are forgotten again.

Essay 157 continues to criticize embattled FEMA, citing the organization faces a lot more employee-discrimination charges than three other similar-sized federal agencies. Looks like FEMA may also ultimately hear a lot of citizen-discrimination complaints. • Can you hear me now? Not if you’re Foxy Brown, who’s still facing charges for allegedly beating nail salon workers with her cell phone. The rap star apparently will also undergo surgery for an undisclosed hearing problem. She probably spent too much time on her cell phone. • Indiana Pacers players won’t spend any time behind bars for participating in the ugly melee last November. The ballers were each sentenced to a year’s probation with community service and small fines. Charlie Haddad, a fan who went onto the floor and was quickly floored by players, wound up receiving two years’ probation with greater community service and fines attached. “It’s been horrible,” Haddad bawled while griping about his stiffer punishment. “I thought I was the victim.” Somebody please have Ron Artest kick this moron’s ass. • Teen dance groups in Wichita, Kansas tried to kick each other’s asses when an impromptu “dance-off” turned into a bloody face-off. Up to 50 people literally hit the dance floor during the riot. Too bad John O’Hurley wasn’t there — it would have been fun to watch someone kick his ass.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Essay 156

MultiCultClassics Minutes presents all the news that’s shit to print…

• A new brand of Chinese condoms has been launched, bearing the names Clinton and Lewinsky. “We chose the name because we think Clinton is a symbol of success and a man of responsibility. And Lewinsky is a woman who dares to love and dares to hate,” said a company official. Also in test markets: Bob Dole Male Enhancement and Linda Tripp Tampons.

• Sen. Barack Obama continued to criticize President Bush over Hurricane Katrina. “The incompetence was colorblind…What wasn’t colorblind was the indifference. Human efforts will always pale in comparison to nature’s forces. But [the Bush administration] is a set of folks who simply don’t recognize what’s happening in large parts of the country.” Not convinced the Whites in the House are cognizant of what’s going on in small parts either.

• presented a story about the commitment to diversity at Toyota. The article detailed the company’s alleged progress and the advisory board created in response to Jesse Jackson’s threats of boycotts after Toyota ran a print ad featuring a Black Man with a gold tooth. Funny, the carmaker’s Black ads haven’t really improved over time — contradicting its “Moving Forward” tagline.

• California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed bills to fight human trafficking and slavery. The legislation is designed to combat slave rings that force people to execute menial and debasing labor in sweatshops and worse. McDonald’s probably opposes the new measures.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Essay 155

Failed presidential assassin John W. Hinckley Jr. wants a girlfriend, according to his psychologist. Wait a minute. Isn’t that essentially what got him in trouble to begin with? Maybe it would be better if Hinckley became a cellmate’s bitch.

Five alleged illegal immigrants who sought help after Hurricane Katrina have been instructed to show up for deportation hearings. Wait a minute. Didn’t the Homeland Security Department advise all victims to seek assistance regardless of their status? Looks like for some folks, it would have been better to lie low and loot.

President Bush received a bipartisan committee’s report listing proposals to restore public confidence in America’s election system. Wait a minute. Wasn’t Bush’s shady victory in 2000 the event that originally shattered everyone’s faith in the process? Somebody fax copies of the report to Al Gore and John Kerry.

DiversityInc revealed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been facing an emergency in its corporate ranks — the organization is extraordinarily White. Plus, FEMA has seen a flood of race and gender bias complaints over the past year. Wait a minute. Didn’t FEMA display cultural insensitivity during a recent natural disaster with a disproportionately high number of minority victims? Guess nobody noticed in all the commotion.

A Starbucks at Baylor University stopped using cups featuring a gay writer’s quotation, as folks feared the words might be inappropriate for a Baptist college. Wait a minute. Isn’t the Starbucks logo a topless mermaid? Plus, a gay quote is not so obscene as the cost of an Espresso Roast Grande.

Oprah Winfrey invited Robert Chavez, the CEO of upscale retailer Hermès, to appear on her TV show and apologize for an incident that occurred at a Parisian shop. Wait a minute. Did Hermès somehow diss Oprah in Paris?

Essay 154

MultiCultClassics Minutes Minis…

• Lil’ Kim was scheduled to report to jail on Monday. If she underwent the standard procedures, she was examined by the prison doctor before submitting to a strip search that included squatting and coughing to prove there was nothing hidden in her body. In short, a typical day for Lil’ Kim.

• Approximately 116,000 former and current Wal-Mart employees are suing the retailer for “systematically and illegally” denying them lunch breaks. The lawyer representing the hungry workers declared, “I will prove the reason [Wal-Mart] did this was for the God Almighty dollar.” Or maybe the company was just trying to address America’s obesity epidemic. After all, think about the typical Wal-Mart employee.

• How allegedly bad was the racial discrimination at a Whirlpool factory? Even White folks have joined a lawsuit against the appliance manufacturer. The case initially involved 15 Black employees. Now 10 White employees have been added to attest the work environment was loaded “with racial hatred, slurs, epithets and stereotypes.” The lawsuit is seeking $50 million in damages. Which makes you wonder if the added employees were inspired to do the right thing…or the White thing.

• Mr. T will launch his own reality TV series, titled “I Pity The Fool.” Pity the viewers.

Sunday, September 18, 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 153

A Sunday New York Times article led with the headline, “Black Leaders Say Storm Forced Bush to Confront Issues of Race and Poverty.” Time will tell if the president and his party are truly affected in a progressive and positive style — or if the country can rebound and respond in the right way too. Forgive the sloppy segue, but what will it take for the Advertising Industry to face the issues of race and exclusivity? Must we wait for a natural disaster or corporate cataclysm to inspire change? Just wondering.

Essay 152

Presenting a busy weekend with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• The United States Postal Service unveiled a series of postage stamps to commemorate Hispanic Heritage month. The “Let’s Dance: Bailemos!” series displays a variety of Latin dance styles, including merengue, salsa and mambo. Apparently, the Memín Pinguín breakdancing stamp did not make the final cut.

• Forget racial profiling. A group in Ohio has made accusations of values profiling. Operation Keepsake, an abstinence program that works with over 130 Ohio schools, used the term in response to the state Department of Health nixing conservative writer Maggie Gallagher as the speaker at an abstinence conference next month. Although Gallagher has been a strong proponent of abstinence, she also has strong opinions about gay issues — and those opinions allegedly made her too controversial for members of the state Department of Health. Which means Operation Keepsake must abstain from oratory intercourse with Gallagher for now.

• In a People magazine interview, Lil’ Kim spoke about her impending incarceration. The recording artist expects to maintain a certain level of glamour in the slammer. “They have makeup in there, gel for your hair, they have all kinds of stuff,” Lil’ Kim said. Hair gel? Maybe like the hair gel in “Something About Mary.”

• Friends of the Border Patrol, a bunch of Minuteman wannabes in California, planned to kick off their volunteer services — until a group of protesters overwhelmed and outnumbered them. A scuffle ensued, and Friends of the Border Patrol decided not to head for the border. Earlier in the week, Friends of the Border Patrol had been hassled by 30 jeering haters and a mariachi band. Hope the group wasn’t seeking to generate credibility and respect for their unofficial authority.

• Employees at a New York City co-op were ordered by management to only speak English at work. A letter stated, “You were instructed that all dialogue in public spaces was to be held in English…After lengthy discussion, management recommended you enroll yourself in ‘English as a second language’ classes as a condition of your employment.” Great suggestion. Then the workers will have no problem declaring, “This shitty job sucks big time.”

• Like some kind of reverse Rodney King incident, President Bush is taking a serious beating from a number of Black folks. The first major blow was delivered when rapper Kanye West declared on live TV, “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.” Next, Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx supported West by adding, “I feel that as the president of the United States, you are the father, and all Americans are your family. In this situation, George Bush didn’t view us as his family. To show up four or five days later, that’s no way to treat your family. If something happened to my family in Des Moines where I grew up, I would be there right away, not days later.” Senator Barack Obama slipped in a few more jabs during a Harvard Law School speech. “In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, I think it’s important that we don’t just assume that George Bush is lying when he says he’s finally been awakened to the fact that there is poverty and racism in our midst,” Obama stated. “It’s tempting to do so, especially when he decides to put Karl Rove in charge of reconstruction…We should trust although we should verify…We should actively reach out to [Bush] and say, ‘Mr. President, we believe, in fact, that those differences were as disturbing to you as they were disturbing to us.’” Jesse Jackson observed, “It’s a hurricane for the poor and a windfall for the rich.” Even Bill Clinton, the unofficial first Black president, got into the act. “You can’t have an emergency plan that works if it only affects middle-class people up, and when you tell people to go do something they don’t have the means to do, you’re going to leave the poor out,” said Clinton. “This is a matter of public policy…And whether it’s race-based or not, if you give your tax cuts to the rich and hope everything works out all right, and poverty goes up and it disproportionately affects Black and Brown people, that’s a consequence of the action made.” Before Hurricane Katrina hit, Harry Belafonte sparked controversy by relating the Bush administration to Hitler. Somebody needs to get a mic in Belafonte’s face pronto.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Essay 151

“Can we all get along?”

Not if you’re Hmong. And packing a high-powered rifle in Wisconsin. A jury convicted Chai Soua Vang of first-degree murder for killing six hunters last November. Vang had insisted he acted in self-defense, and the hunters intimidated him with racial taunting. The jurors didn’t buy it. Nonetheless, Vang’s friends and relatives continued to push the racial buttons, criticizing the jury makeup by proclaiming, “All Caucasian, all American. Why can’t there be one Hmong? Why can’t there be one minority in there?” Um, because the jurors were selected from Madison, Wisconsin.

“Can we all sing along?”

Depends on the cultural group to which you belong. It seems like most of the celebrity charity events to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims remain somewhat segregated. Rappers are rhyming at one venue in Atlanta. White performers will showcase country music in Houston. Gloria Estefan is planning a Hispanic concert, while the racially ambiguous Michael Jackson is enlisting predominately Black artists for a “We Are The (Black) World” extravaganza. The punk rockers are noticeably absent — probably because no group will claim them.

“Can we all read along?”

College students are behaving just plain wrong. Racist acts are regularly taking place at the University of Virginia. The school reported nine incidents in the first few weeks of classes, ranging from racist notes to ugly message boards to slurs hollered from cars. The dean of African American affairs went so far as to say, “I call it racial terrorism — it’s gone beyond racial incidents.” Speaking of terrorism, a student journalist from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was canned for writing a column about racial profiling of Arabs. The columnist misled Arab students and a professor who teaches a course on Arabic, using their quotes out of context to argue in favor of racial profiling. The quoted individuals believed they were contributing to a story about Arab-American relations following 9/11. Little did they realize they’d actually wind up symbolizing relations between Arabs and Americans. The sleazy writer is making the most of her 15 minutes of fame, taking interviews for talk radio shows and conservative publications. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from someone studying journalism at a university best known for its basketball program.

“Can we all rap along?”

Here’s a new way to keep the neighborhood strong. A housing project in South Los Angeles teamed with city government, corporate sponsors and hip-hop celebrities to open its own recording studio. The studio is intended for aspiring artists to record demos and more. The supporters include former NAACP president Benjamin F. Chavis and Pepsi-Cola. Let’s see if Pepsi can resist exploiting the effort with a commercial starring Beyoncé.

“Can we all move along?”

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger addressed a friendly throng. He announced his intention to run for re-election, despite an approval rating that has plummeted to 34 percent. “Of course, I’m going to finish the job,” Schwarzenegger told the applauding fans. “I’m a follow-through guy.” He’ll need to inject serious steroids into those approval ratings if he hopes to succeed.

“Can we all get a clue?”

Louisiana law enforcement’s gone cuckoo. They jailed a 73-year-old grandmother for two weeks, accusing the woman of looting a deli after Hurricane Katrina hit. She was charged with lifting $63.50 worth of groceries, and her bail was set at $50,000. Family and eyewitnesses claim the cops cuffed the church elder in frustration over their inability to apprehend real looters at a nearby store. A massive effort to free the woman was failing until the Associated Press publicized her story. Guess grandma can now tell all the grandchildren about her Crash moment.

Essay 150

For your consideration…

Consider New Mexico and Arizona, where the governors declared a state of emergency due to increased illegal immigration. Declarations of this magnitude are usually made in response to a natural disaster. For example, officials in Louisiana declared a state of emergency after Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans. Louisiana is dealing with a deluge of floodwaters. Arizona and New Mexico are facing a deluge of foreigners. Clearly, “state of emergency” is a highly subjective term.

Consider Shona Seifert, the advertising executive convicted of falsifying client billing records at Ogilvy & Mather. In addition to receiving a hefty fine and prison sentence, Seifert was ordered to draft a Code of Ethics for the advertising industry (see Essay 134). The ultimate document is uninspired — and critics claim it’s unoriginal, sharing similarities with the Advertising Federation of Australia’s Agency Code of Ethics. Guess it was a bad idea to seek ethical advice from a felon. Then again, it’s not unprecedented for ad hacks to rip off others’ concepts. Now Interpublic Group of Companies acknowledges “possible employee misconduct” with its accounting practices. Looks like illegal billing in advertising agencies will be analogous to steroid use in Major League Baseball. Although so far, no adpeople have pulled a Rafael Palmiero by insisting they’ve never done anything improper.

Consider the recent study presented by Education Trust-West, an advocacy group in Oakland. Based on a survey of salaries, it appears that California schools with predominately poor and minority students employ less-experienced and lower-paid instructors. In short, the kids with the greatest needs get the worst teachers. Factor in the worst facilities and resources to create a truly separate and unequal scenario. Then again, there’s nothing too shocking revealed here. The worst kid from the worst facility could have drawn the same conclusions without all the statistical data. For more details, visit — or any school in California with mostly Black and Hispanic students.

Consider how the upcoming Advertising Week in New York truly reflects the industry. Except for a handful of programs highlighting the currently in vogue Hispanic marketing, there’s little evidence of diversity — aside from the ultra-segregated Diversity Achievement & Mosaic Awards, which isn’t even listed on the featured events. The overwhelming majority of photographs at the Web site showcase White people. In fact, the only colored folks include a shot of minority students (undoubtedly the recipients of some humanitarian public service initiative) and Tony the Tiger. However, Juan Valdez is reportedly the leading vote recipient in the icon contest. No word yet on the totals for Colt 45’s Billy Dee Williams. There’s a program being held at the Apollo Theater, where adpeople will compete in a special Amateur Night. It’s always uncomfortable watching White contestants perform on the famed stage. Sandman Sims will be working overtime.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Essay 149

Thank God It’s Almost Friday with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Michael Jackson revealed plans to create a song ala “We Are The World” to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims. New Orleans evacuees are cautioned to hide their children.

• Houston rap group the Legendary K.O. created a song inspired by Kanye West’s criticism of President Bush. The group actually worked West’s rant into their rap, producing the latest underground hit. Maybe they’ll follow it up with a track incorporating Barbara Bush’s commentary on evacuees in Texas.

• Another rap star may be facing a PR disaster as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Compton rapper the Game planned to unveil his designer kicks during the upcoming holiday season. Problem is, the shoes are named the Hurricane. Out of respect for the hurricane victims, the Game will donate proceeds from shoe sales to charity.

• California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is now facing attacks from fellow Republicans criticizing his record on Latino appointments. Schwarzenegger is quickly losing popularity in the community, as folks realize he hasn’t reached out to Latinos since hooking up with Maria Conchita Alonso in The Running Man.

• Not everybody was Kung Fu fighting. Especially at the Long Island whorehouse operated by Gao Xian — the martial arts expert and actor responsible for training folks for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Cops raided the kung fu studio-massage parlor-brothel and arrested Xian. And they didn’t even need a samurai army to take him down.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Essay 148

We don’t need another hero with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Ohio sheriff’s deputies discovered eleven kids locked in 3.5-foot cages rigged with alarms. The children reportedly slept in the cages with no pillows or blankets. A couple serving as adoptive and foster parents for the youngsters insisted the kids were not abused or neglected — and they also claimed a psychiatrist recommended putting the kids in cages. The nutcase couple must have consulted with the psychiatrist from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Where’s Randle Patrick McMurphy when you need him?

• A Hardee’s restaurant in Oak Grove, Missouri repeatedly refused to hire a woman because she has a disfigured face. Now the burger joint has to pay her $34,000 to settle the lawsuit she ultimately filed. Plus, Hardee’s must present a written apology and train its staff to be human beings. Not sure the last objective will be possible to achieve. Where’s Rocky Dennis when you need him?

• Comedic curmudgeon Bill Cosby brought his traveling racial rant to Cleveland, Ohio. Let’s hope he’s not planning to take the show to New Orleans. Where’s Cliff Huxtable when you need him?

• A man in Jacksonville, Florida burst into a restaurant and robbed patrons of $32 — all while wielding a samurai sword. Where’s Jet Li when you need him?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Essay 147

Just another manic Monday with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• How bad are things for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger? He’s getting his old movie lines thrown back in his face — by people in his own party. Schwarzenegger is poised to veto numerous bills, which will ultimately polarize voters. One bill designed to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants has Republicans fuming. “If this bill should be passed…and the governor should sign it into law,” Republican Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy proclaimed, “he will hear a cry of the people greater than ever before. And the cry of the people will be, ‘Hasta la vista, baby.’” Memo to Governor Schwarzenegger: You’re being terminated.

• Bill Cosby is once again reprimanding someone for displaying poor morals. Except this time the target of Cosby’s scorn is a guy in Tennessee using an Internet domain name including the words “Fat Albert.” The comedic icon insisted the domain name infringed his trademark rights; plus, it diverted surfers to a site selling sexually explicit items. Hey, hey, hey — wonder how Mr. Jell-O discovered the sexually explicit stuff.

• Tyson Foods is facing a discrimination lawsuit that includes accusations its Alabama plant had a bathroom displaying a “whites only” sign on the door. The company’s PR machine is running hard now, showcasing Tyson’s commitment to diversity and goodwill efforts and initiatives. Tyson also promised up to $1 million in food and aid to Hurricane Katrina victims. White meat or dark meat?

• Shortly after the city paid tribute to the fourth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a New York firefighter allegedly assaulted an immigrant worker for looking “like he’s al-Qaida.” The 27-year-old firefighter was arrested for injuring the 51-year-old Bangladesh immigrant with a piece of Plexiglas. Police are still trying to determine if the attack would be upgraded to a hate crime. Based on the reports, the firefighter is looking like he’s al-Campanis.

• Cornel West joined Kanye West in criticizing President Bush. “How can anyone conclude that the Bush administration has compassion for Black people?” West asked during a speech at Rutgers University. “Look at the Super Dome, a living hell for Black people. It’s not a big move from the hull of the slave ship to the living hell of the Superdome.” Actually, the Superdome has been a living hell for Saints fans for many seasons now.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Essay 146

Can’t help but wonder what’s going on across the country…

A New York Post article argues, “A growing number of Latino marketing executives and advertisers feel old-school advertising companies have an unfounded bias against English-language media and mistakenly believe that second- and third-generation Latinos favor Spanish-language media.” Can’t help but wonder how much responsibility for the issue should be placed on clients as well as “old-school” ad shops. After all, too many clients still view minority agencies and minority media as a means to satisfying corporate diversity objectives. Most “old school” agencies consistently beg for broader and bigger media plans. Most “old school” clients deny the requests, opting to keep minority efforts politically correct and ultimately segregated. On the other hand, general market agencies need to do a better job of utilizing and supporting minority media.

A Chicago Sun-Times analysis showed minority drivers are more than twice as likely as Whites to get stopped by police in specific Illinois suburbs — and minorities are nearly five times as likely to get pulled over in certain predominately White towns. While the study drew from state Department of Transportation data, police chiefs whose communities are high on the list insisted the conclusions are inaccurate and do not indicate racial profiling is involved. Can’t help but wonder how many more studies, research and scandalous incidents need to be published before everyone will confess there’s a problem. “If you’re Black and young, they will pull you over,” said a 20-year-old man in the Sun-Times story. “That’s how it is. Cops see a young Black man, and they think the car is stolen. That happens every day out here, anywhere.” Another Black male proclaimed, “In some places if there’s more than three Black people in a car, you’re getting pulled over, that’s automatic…You’ve got your seat belt on, you’re obeying the speed limit, you’re using your turn signals, but you’ll still get pulled over.” A retired Black cop admitted, “Anyone who says racial profiling doesn’t exist has his head in the sand…It’s alive and well.”

Chai Soua Vang, the Hmong immigrant and deer hunter charged with killing six people in Wisconsin last November, contends he acted in self-defense. In the trial’s opening day, the defense attorney claimed the other hunters physically intimidated Vang and verbally abused him with racial insults — calling him a “chink” and “gook.” Additionally, one hunter allegedly shot at Vang first. The entire incident apparently started when Vang accidentally trespassed onto private property. Can’t help but wonder how the race card will play out in this scenario. Plus, can’t help but wonder why people continue to enjoy a pastime that involves high-powered rifles. No offense, Soldier of Fortune enthusiasts.

In 1991 Jonathan Kozol introduced Savage Inequalities, a provocative book that presented school conditions nationwide and showed “what is happening to children from poor families in the inner cities and the less affluent suburbs.” Now Kozol unveils his latest book, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. The new book argues students today, particularly Blacks and Hispanics, continue to face savage inequalities on numerous levels. Can’t help but wonder why so little progress has been made over the past 15 years. In fact, it appears the chasm separating the haves and have nots has significantly increased. Whoever named the No Child Left Behind Act should be beaten with a ruler.

A fired employee of the prestigious Nahmad Gallery in New York has filed a $5 million sexual-harassment suit. The former saleswoman claims renowned art dealer David Nahmad made lewd and obscene advances, including an invitation to join a ménage-a-trois. The 58-year-old Nahmad also allegedly asked the woman to “dominate” him sexually as he dominated as “her boss” at the gallery — and Nahmad even requested that she “pee-pee” on him. The suit includes accusations that the old man exposed himself while proclaiming, “Look at what you do to me.” Can’t help but wonder how folks in the courtroom will keep a straight face throughout the proceedings. After all, the ex-employee’s name is Susan Dicker.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Essay 145

Have A Nice Weekend with MultiCultClassics Minutes...

• Guilty pleas were submitted for the couple that stuck a human finger in a bowl of Wendy’s chili as part of a scheme to extort the fast food company for a fistful of money. Wendy’s claimed it lost at least $2.5 million in sales from negative publicity. Anna Ayala and Jaime Placencia face jail terms of up to 10 and 13 years, respectively, for the plot and other assorted crimes. Wonder what the duo will inevitably find in their prison gruel.

• McDonald’s claimed the introduction of its Premium Chicken Sandwiches sparked August sales increases of 3.4 percent versus the same period last year. Anna Ayala and Jaime Placencia also deserve credit for increasing McDonald’s sales.

• It’s a miracle! Edgar Ray Killen can walk again! The ex-Klansman convicted of the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers was originally granted bail after convincing the judge he was ill and confined to a wheelchair. But sheriff’s deputies spotted the murderer out and about, strolling around like a happy camper. So the judge ordered Edgar Ray Killen to walk straight to jail, even accusing the KKKiller of defrauding the court.

• Starting this season, ABC plans to offer all its prime-time programming in Spanish. The network’s pioneering initiative indicates a clear recognition of the expanding U.S. Hispanic population. Also, it gives a whole new audience the opportunity to agree sitcoms like According to Jim and Hope & Faith are really shitty.

• Let them eat King Cake. Former First Lady Barbara Bush is still catching heat for her remarks regarding New Orleans evacuees during a visit to relief centers in Houston. The controversial comments included, “And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this...this is working very well for them.” Look for Kanye West’s mother to proclaim, “Mrs. Bush doesn’t care about Black people.”

Essay 144

The story below appeared in The Plain Dealer…


Cleveland is a reflection of New Orleans, King says

Saturday, September 10, 2005
Robert L. Smith
Plain Dealer Reporter

The Rev. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said that Clevelanders who look thoughtful and deep will see their own community reflected in the floodwaters of New Orleans.

She said the racial and class divisions exposed by a hurricane also emerge in the housing patterns and the distribution of wealth in Northeast Ohio. She challenged the city to commit itself to achieving greatness by pulling all of its citizens to higher ground.

“It seems to me that [Hurricane] Katrina revealed, once again, that this nation is still divided,” King told a City Club audience Friday. “It seems to me the soul of America is at stake.”

She blamed the disparity on selfishness and materialism and a reluctance to apply Christian values.

King’s appearance kicked off Unity Week, City Hall’s annual series of discussions and events exploring the city’s cultural diversity. The luncheon began with Mayor Jane Campbell presenting the second annual Mosaic Award for Diversity to immigration advocate Richard Herman.

Herman, a Cleveland attorney, said a multicultural work force is essential to the city’s success in a global economy.

The audience stirred as King moved behind the podium. She bears a resemblance to her late father, especially when her voice swells with emotion. She was 5 when he was assassinated, and she knew a difficult life. She once contemplated suicide. Instead, she became the only one of the King children to follow her father into the ministry.

King said her acceptance of the Gospel forced her to confront her own prejudices and to reach out to people of other cultures. She urged Clevelanders to reach across their fears to meet the other side.

“If we’re going to move to a deeper level, and create true diversity, then we’re going to have to get really close,” she said. “There are too many people who have drawn their conclusions from what they see on television.”

King said she sees a lesson for the region in the recent health troubles of her mother, Coretta Scott King, who is recovering from a stroke.

Her mother’s left side is vibrant while her right side is weak, she said. She added that none of the Kings will consider their mother fully healed until the whole of her is well.

“If the suburbs of Cleveland are prosperous, and the urban areas are not, you are on the verge of a stroke,” she said, and the multiracial audience applauded.

“We have to be willing, as my father would say, to stand up for right,” she said. “If we are going to create true unity, that’s what it’s going to take.” The audience gave her a standing ovation.

© 2005 The Plain Dealer
© 2005 All Rights Reserved.

Essay 143

Late Night with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• 50 Cent offered his two cents on the success of Kanye West: “I feel like Kanye West is successful because of me…After 50 Cent, [hip-hop enthusiasts] was looking for something non-confrontational, and they went after the first thing that came along. That was Kanye West, and his record took off.” Not sure President Bush would call Kanye West non-confrontational.

• Child obesity in California has reached epidemic levels, with 28 percent of the state’s kids being overweight. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger should immediately institute a statewide regimen of weightlifting and steroids.

• State Sen. James Meeks of Chicago, Illinois staged a rally to demand Mayor Richard Daley and city aldermen make changes regarding the way cops investigate citizen complaints. Meeks starred in a controversial incident involving a traffic stop and an allegedly abusive officer. Some are speculating Meeks may now run for mayor. It's a safe bet Meeks won't win the endorsement of the Chicago Police Department.

• A story on asked why Native Americans have been virtually ignored during all the news surrounding Hurricane Katrina. The Answer: Because Native Americans occupy the lowest level on the minority totem pole — well below Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, People with Disabilities and Gays & Lesbians.

• Marketing y Medios, the Hispanic marketing magazine from the publishers of Adweek, ran a MultiCultClassics perspective in its September 2005 issue. As is often the case, the letter was edited. For the unabridged version, see Essay 84.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Essay 142

MultiCultClassics Minutes presents a manic multicultural monologue…

• A Gallup poll sponsored by CNN and USA Today revealed shocking results regarding Hurricane Katrina. Only 13 percent of Americans blame President Bush for the post-disaster dilemmas — and the overwhelming majority of people do not think anyone should be fired for bad responses in the drama. It is important to note, however, that most figures show Blacks account for 13 percent of the U.S. population.

• Don’t need a Gallup poll to know this news item will generate an overwhelmingly negative response from illegal immigrant haters. The California Assembly passed a bill that will permit illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to terminate the bill. Unless a Gallup poll shows his dismal approval rating will improve by signing the measure.

• 200 Mexicans managed to cross into the U.S. on Thursday without being stopped by Border Patrol. The people were part of a Mexican army convoy delivering aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina. The members included military engineers, doctors and nurses heading for San Antonio. Afterwards, the group planned to pass through California to pick up driver’s licenses.

• Governor Schwarzenegger is also poised to veto a gay marriage bill. An aide said Schwarzenegger would reject the measure “out of respect for the will of the people.” Plus, everyone knows Arnold hates girly men.

• Governor Schwarzenegger is poised to sign a bill to ban sales of soda and fast food on public school campuses, including high schools — despite protests from gay illegal immigrant students with driver’s licenses.

• A non-Hawaiian student is pursuing a discrimination lawsuit against the Hawaiians-only Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu. The student was rejected by the private school in 2003. Wonder if the school vending machines offer Hawaiian Punch.

• Another lawsuit is being launched by foes of the new Georgia law requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls. Critics charge the law was created by Republicans to suppress minority voting. Ironically, illegal immigrants with California driver’s licenses should have no trouble casting their votes.

• Investigators decided the murder of DJ Jam Master Jay was not related to conflicts between 50 Cent and drug lord Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff. Police once suspected McGriff was involved in the death of the Run-DMC member and Fitty mentor. But now McGriff has been cleared of the crime. No word yet on all the other crimes McGriff probably is responsible for having committed.

• Busta Rhymes’ bodyguard busted the face of a fan seeking an autograph. The head busting occurred in a bustling Manhattan deli. But Busta bussed his bodyguard to the fan’s place of employment to bust down and apologize, probably to avoid a bust.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Essay 141

There’s a lack of diversity in the diversity ads in DiversityInc.

What compels an advertiser to force fit corporate taglines and positions with an alleged commitment to diversity?

PricewaterhouseCoopers asks, “when you left for work this morning, what did you leave behind?*” The asterisk connects to “connectedthinking” — a copyrighted phrase from the advertiser. Don’t get the connection.

Reed Smith portrays a Black employee with the headline, “When You’re Human Resources Counsel To More Than Two Thousand People, Quality Matters” — which ties to the organization’s “Quality Matters” slogan. Heaven forbid quality should matter in companies with fewer employees. Or in Reed Smith ads.

“Energizing Opportunities With Diverse Suppliers,” states Sempra Energy utilities. Fight the power.

The United States Tennis Association lobs an interesting notion. “At the USTA, we believe nothing should separate people…except maybe the net.” Right. Tennis is suddenly a Multicultural Mecca. Let’s see, there are the Williams sisters. And James Blake. And the Williams sisters’ Dad. And the Williams sisters’ Mom. And…ummmm.

Starbucks serves up a strange brew. “The steam that rises as we share coffee creates inspiration. The energy that rises as we share ideas creates growth.” The nonsense is signed off with, “Honoring our origins. Enriched by our blends.” Makes you want to switch to Folgers.

Pitney Bowes starts a parade of diversity messages exhibiting “We Are The World” pictures of employees — and the ad even features a guy in a wheelchair. Now that’s breakthrough.

“Not Everyone at PepsiCo Sees Things the Same Way.” However, countless advertisers have executed the same thought in the same way, even using the same words.

Darden Restaurants brag, “What We Serve Is As Diverse As Who We Are.” The roster includes Olive Garden Italian Restaurant and Bahama Breeze, where you’ll probably never see Italian or Bahamian employees. Go figure.

“A diversity of great technology and solutions starts with a diversity of great people,” according to the stereotypically diverse team representing Raytheon.

HSBC proclaims, “Imagine…an organization as individual as you are.” Directly below is the photo of a completely generic Black woman.

Monster roars, “Unique perspectives make businesses better.” Email to Monster: Unique headlines make ads better.

Deloitte tries a twist with “Different perspectives. Diverse minds create solutions.” The layout depicts pairs of shoes. Please wipe this idea before entering.

Nothing proves diversity like awards and endorsements. Pitney Bowes lists honors from Fortune, Asian Enterprise Magazine, Hispanic Magazine, LATINA Styles and DiversityInc. PepsiCo boasts top ten rankings in seven minority categories. HSBC mentions earning recognition from “numerous national and local publications.” Southern Company holds a threepeat in Fortune Magazine’s Most Admired Companies. SBC records Hispanic Magazine, Essence, the Annenberg Public Policy Center, Fortune and DiversityInc among its admirers. WellPoint is another Fortune favorite. Marriott takes applause from Working Mother, Fortune and DiversityInc.

And it’s rather disturbing to peruse the diversity and recruitment communications from the U.S. Department of State, the Air National Guard, the Central Intelligence Agency, Homeland Security and National Security Agency.

Finally, SBC shows the simple image of an SBC coffee mug filled with a variety of writing instruments. The headline reads, “We’re Proud Of Our Diversity In The Workplace.” While not totally original, it comes the closest to being decent.

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.

Six months and nearly 150 essays 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.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Essay 140

The stories surrounding New Orleans are bad, and it appears things may get significantly more ugly. Don’t want to add fuel to the flames, as plenty of folks are already criticizing the situation from all angles.

For insightful perspectives, check out columnist Mary Mitchell at Mitchell is a thoughtful and brilliant writer who has traveled to New Orleans to help, report and reflect. Definitely worth reading.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Essay 139

The Sunday Evening News with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Time magazine dubbed him “Hip-Hop’s Class Act.” He rejects the gangsta lifestyle. His words can be positive and uplifting. He cried for rappers to end gay-bashing lyrics. His style is sophisticated and clean. Critics have called him a voice for this or any other generation. Then… he bashed President Bush. On live TV. During a charity benefit broadcast by NBC. He even said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Hey, maybe Kanye West could perform a duet with classical pianist Condoleezza Rice.

• Bush top aides met with Black leaders to discuss issues and plans surrounding the relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “I think they wanted to make sure that the leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Urban League and the NAACP knew that they were very sensitive to trying to make sure that things went right from here on out. And I think they wanted to try to dispel any kind of notions that the administration did not care about African American people — or anyone else,” said meeting attendee Rep. Elijah E. Cummings. No word yet on when the Bush aides will meet with Kanye West.

• A Chicago alderman is catching heat for a memo in which she stated a neighborhood’s increased trash and rodent problem was “due to the enormous amount of Latinos residing in the” area. The alderman has received phone calls, including a racist message, from unhappy community members. She claimed a staff member wrote the memo, and she signed it without carefully reviewing it. Which sort of sounds like a bunch of garbage.

• American Express is experiencing the downside of celebrity sports spokespersons. The financial client bankrolled a splashy multimedia campaign starring Andy Roddick to run during the U.S. Open. Unfortunately, Roddick lost in the first round. Ironically, the only chance of spotting the wunderkind at this point is by viewing the commercials and print ads. The campaign plays off “Andy’s Mojo.” The concept should be revised to “Andy’s No-Show.”

• The Charlotte Observer conducted a study that revealed Blacks who purchased homes were significantly more likely to receive mortgage loans at higher rates versus lower market rates. In fact, the figures showed Blacks were four times as likely as Whites to get hit with loans at higher rates. Plus, the top 10 banks rejected Blacks twice as often as Whites. Wonder if George and Weezy Jefferson faced similar challenges when they were movin’ on up.

• The Chicago Public Health Department is releasing a report titled, “The Challenge To An Apple A Day.” The pioneering study details the types of food and products available to people in different communities. One particularly disturbing finding: Folks in poor, inner-city neighborhoods have few outlets offering fresh, high-quality produce. It’s pretty sad when your produce options lead with Froot Loops and Apple Jacks.

Essay 138

Here’s another excellent perspective from another excellent writer, which appeared in The New York Times…


September 4, 2005
What Happens to a Race Deferred


THE white people got out. Most of them, anyway. If television and newspaper images can be deemed a statistical sample, it was mostly black people who were left behind. Poor black people, growing more hungry, sick and frightened by the hour as faraway officials counseled patience and warned that rescues take time.

What a shocked world saw exposed in New Orleans last week wasn’t just a broken levee. It was a cleavage of race and class, at once familiar and startlingly new, laid bare in a setting where they suddenly amounted to matters of life and death. Hydrology joined sociology throughout the story line, from the settling of the flood-prone city, where well-to-do white people lived on the high ground, to its frantic abandonment.

The pictures of the suffering vied with reports of marauding, of gunshots fired at rescue vehicles and armed bands taking over the streets. The city of quaint eccentricity — of King Cakes, Mardi Gras beads and nice neighbors named Tookie — had taken a Conradian turn.

In the middle of the delayed rescue, the New Orleans mayor, C. Ray Nagin, a local boy made good from a poor, black ward, burst into tears of frustration as he denounced slow moving federal officials and called for martial law.

Even people who had spent a lifetime studying race and class found themselves slack-jawed.

“This is a pretty graphic illustration of who gets left behind in this society — in a literal way,” said Christopher Jencks, a sociologist glued to the televised images from his office at Harvard. Surprised to have found himself surprised, Mr. Jencks took to thinking out loud. “Maybe it’s just an in-the-face version of something I already knew,” he said. “All the people who don’t get out, or don’t have the resources, or don’t believe the warning are African-American.”

“It’s not that it’s at odds with the way I see American society,” Mr. Jencks said. “But it’s at odds with the way I want to see American society.”

Last week it was how others saw American society, too, in images beamed across the globe. Were it not for the distinctive outlines of the Superdome, the pictures of hovering rescue helicopters might have carried a Somalian dateline. The Sri Lankan ambassador offered to help raise foreign aid.

Anyone who knew New Orleans knew that danger lurked behind the festive front. Let the good times roll, the tourists on Bourbon Street were told. Yet in every season, someone who rolled a few blocks in the wrong direction wound up in the city morgue.

Unusually poor (27.4 percent below the poverty line in 2000), disproportionately black (over two-thirds), the Big Easy is also disproportionately murderous — with a rate that was for years among the country’s highest.

Once one of the most mixed societies, in recent decades, the city has become unusually segregated, and the white middle class is all but gone, moved north across Lake Pontchartrain or west to Jefferson Parish — home of David Duke, the one-time Klansman who ran for governor in 1991 and won more than half of the state’s white vote.

Shortly after I arrived in town two decades ago as a fledgling reporter, I was dispatched to cover a cheerleading tryout, and I asked a grinning, half-drunk accountant where he was from, city or suburb. “White people don’t live in New Orleans,” he answered with a where-have-you-been disdain.

For those who loved it, its glories as well as its flaws, last week brought only heartbreak. So much of New Orleans, from its music and its food to its architecture, had shown a rainbow society at its best, even as everyone knew it was more complicated than that.

“New Orleans, first of all, is both in reality and in rhetoric an extraordinarily successful multicultural society,” said Philip Carter, a developer and retired journalist whose roots in the city extend back more at least four generations. “But is also a multicultural society riven by race and class, and all this has been exposed by these stormy days. The people of our community are pitted against each other across the barricades of race and class that six months from now may be last remaining levees in New Orleans.”

No one was immune, of course. With 80 percent of the city under water, tragedy swallowed the privilege and poor, and traveled spread across racial lines.

But the divides in the city were evident in things as simple as access to a car. The 35 percent of black households that didn’t have one, compared with just 15 percent among whites.

“The evacuation plan was really based on people driving out,” said Craig E. Colten, a geologist at Louisiana State University and an expert on the city’s vulnerable topography. “They didn’t have buses. They didn’t have trains.”

As if to punctuate the divide, the water especially devastated the Ninth Ward, among city’s poorest and lowest lying.

“Out West, there is a saying that water flows to money,” Mr. Colten said. “But in New Orleans, water flows away from money. Those with resources who control where the drainage goes have always chosen to live on the high ground. So the people in the low areas were hardest hit.”

Outrage grew as the week wore on, among black politicians who saw the tragedy as a reflection of a broader neglect of American cities, and in the blogosphere.

“The real reason no one is helping is because of the color of these people!” wrote “myfan88” on the Flickr blog. “This is Hotel Rwanda all over again.”

“Is this what the pioneers of the civil rights movement fought to achieve, a society where many black people are as trapped and isolated by their poverty as they were by legal segregation laws?” wrote Mark Naison, director of the urban studies program at Fordham, on another blog.

One question that could not be answered last week was whether, put to a similar test, other cities would fracture along the same lines.

At one level, everything about New Orleans appears sui generis, not least its location below sea level. Many New Orleanians don’t just accept the jokes about living in a Banana Republic. They spread them.

But in a quieter catastrophe, the 1995 heat wave that killed hundreds of Chicagoans, blacks in comparable age groups as whites died at higher rates — in part because they tended to live in greater social isolation, in depopulated parts of town. As in New Orleans, space intertwined with race.

And the violence? Similarly shocking scenes had erupted in Los Angeles in 1992, after the acquittal of white police officers charged with beating a black man, Rodney King. Newark, Detroit, Washington — all burned in the race riots of the 1960’s. It was for residents of any major city, watching the mayhem, to feel certain their community would be immune.

With months still to go just to pump out the water that covers the city, no one can be sure how the social fault lines will rearrange. But with white flight a defining element of New Orleans in the recent past, there was already the fear in the air this week that the breached levee would leave a separated society further apart.

“Maybe we can build the levees back,” said Mr. Carter. “But that sense of extreme division by class and race is going to long survive the physical reconstruction of New Orleans.”

Essay 137

Here’s an excellent column by an excellent writer in Chicago…


Blacks must monitor how hurricane victims are treated

September 4, 2005


My decision was made the moment I heard my colleague’s loud sobs on the phone. I had tossed and turned the entire night before, haunted by the images of desperate black people stranded in the New Orleans Superdome surrounded by sewage, garbage and dead bodies. First they were at the mercy of a natural disaster. Now they were at the mercy of an inept federal government that had so badly bungled their rescue that New Orleans’ Mayor C. Ray Nagin broke down and started cursing during a radio call-in show.

‘Who is available to go?’

Besides sending money and donating clothes or material goods, black people of conscience will have to go to the New Orleans and Mississippi region, not only to aid the victims, but to monitor how these victims are being treated. I wasn’t the only person who reached that conclusion.

“Who is available to go to Louisiana and Mississippi,” pleaded Monique Caradine in an e-mail. The host of “Mo Talks,” a cable talk show, and the former radio personality at WVON-1450, Caradine was both sad and outraged.

“It is sickening that [the survivors] are being portrayed as looters, outlaws and criminals. The National Guard is patrolling the streets with automatic weapons. These people are not looters. They are trying to survive,” she said.

Four days after Hurricane Katrina turned the bustling city of New Orleans into a modern-day Atlantis, thousands of black survivors were still at the mercy of the elements -- and now hunger, thirst, lack of sanitation and medical treatment and alleged armed thugs.

‘Margins of society’

Many who managed by some miracle to survive ended up dying in the sweltering, filthy aftermath because no one had bothered to come up with a workable plan to get them out.

I understood my friend’s breakdown. People of all nationalities were affected by the storm, but African Americans especially were in shock. Day after day, we are bombarded with images of immense suffering and excuses about why aid has been trickling into New Orleans.

And to add insult to injury, now these survivors -- and that’s what they are, survivors, not refugees as they are being called by so many media as though we are talking about people from a foreign country rather than Americans in a devastated U.S. city -- are now being portrayed as out-of-control, wild animals.

I thought about that Friday as I listened to two white patrons in a restaurant chat about how “those people are shooting at rescue helicopters.” “What sense does that make?” one guy asked the other. “They are shooting at the helicopters and saying you better get my family.”

It’s a frightening story and one that has been used to justify why rescue workers were unable to quickly deliver food. Yet, it’s the same story being told over and over again -- not a similar story, but the same story. I haven’t seen one photograph of gun-toting thugs, or armed gangs or anything to suggest that a great number of the New Orleans survivors are on a pillaging rampage, or, as also alleged, raping and trying to murder the people who are trying to help them.

“I just don’t know how widespread the violence is, or if there’s really any measurable violence at all,” Caradine said.

How were they left behind?

While “No Child Left Behind” has been a mantra for the Bush administration, Americans have watched as a national crisis ravages tens of thousands of people who were left behind to face a hurricane -- simply because most of them lacked the means to escape. How were all these black Americans left behind while so many white people were able to flee?

What is it about our society that separates human beings like wheat from chaff?

On Friday, the New York Times finally broached the obvious -- African Americans, usually on the “margins of society” in a city known as a worldwide tourist attraction, were now thrust in the “center of the tragedy,” its headline proclaimed.

“I think a lot of it has to do with race and class,” the Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem told the paper. “The people affected were largely poor people. Poor, black people.”

I knew that I would go

In days to come, experts will explain how it came to be that poor people were clustered in the most vulnerable areas of the city while the more affluent and mostly white population lived on higher ground. And government officials will try to explain the unfathomable bottle-neck in aid that left thousands of survivors in third-world conditions -- without even water, nor food -- for four days.

But there’s just no explaining why authorities suspended rescue and evacuation efforts to focus instead on looting. Americans died while police were trying to stop people from taking items that eventually would sink in the mud or burn in the fires. There’s no explaining why material things left behind by those who escaped meant more to government officials than human lives.

By the time my colleague had hung up the phone, I knew that I would go to Louisiana and try to do something more than wonder what went so deadly wrong.

Copyright © The Sun-Times Company. All rights reserved.

Essay 136

Mickey D’s implored consumers to “keep your eyes on your fries.” Now the tagline is downright prophetic.

For starters, McDonald’s is still embroiled — maybe deep-fried is the appropriate term — in lawsuits involving its World-Famous Fries. The fast-food dinosaur has not met the legally mandated deadline to change the cooking oil of its product, which contains notorious trans fatty acids. Mickey D’s excuse? They’re having trouble finding an alternative that tastes as good. Please. Since when has taste ever motivated a decision at The Golden Arches?

A California judge ordered Mickey D’s to pay $8.5 million to school the public on the fat it uses. The American Heart Association will receive $7 million for educational programs about trans fatty acids. McDonald’s will use the remaining $1.5 million to announce its failure to meet the deadline. While substantial, the amount is not very much for Mickey D’s. Significantly more loot was spent promoting the McGriddles® sandwich. Additionally, the last time McDonald’s produced public service announcements on this topic, legalese-filled print ads were discreetly placed in publications (see Essay 25).

The judge should have forced the company to create a McDonaldland character as part of the settlement. McTransFattyAcid would be a friendly muppet who encourages the rest of the gang to undergo biopsies.

Recent medical studies found a potential link between french fries and breast cancer. The suspected culprits for the problems are none other than trans fatty acids. Better think twice about handing your kids that Happy Meal, folks. Children could probably benefit more from ingesting the toy surprise versus the fries.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer is taking the game to another level. Lockyer wants to place warning labels on potato chips and french fries. The warnings would alert consumers to the presence of acrylamide in chips and fries, a chemical thought to cause cancer. Imagine a label similar to the Surgeon General’s warnings currently on cigarette packages and advertising. There certainly are eerie parallels between Big Tobacco and Big Macs.

Mickey D’s doesn’t appear too fazed by the bad press. Indeed, the corporate leaders in Oak Brook are laughing all the way to the bank, as sales figures continue to rise with America’s collective blood pressure.

Makes you wonder what to do when the rude order taker barks, “Would you like fries with that?”

Friday, September 02, 2005

Essay 135

The MultiCultClassics Police Blotter…

> The scenario involving Rev. James Meeks and a Chicago cop appears to be closing. Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline announced an investigation determined the cop “under the circumstances, acted properly.” However, the officer will receive a written reprimand for using profanity. The investigation reported Meeks was instructed to return to his vehicle three times before the cop pulled his firearm. “When a citizen is told by a uniformed police officer to get back in the car, they have to do it,” said Cline. “Our officers can pull their weapon when they feel a threat to their safety.” Meeks insists things unfolded differently, claiming the weapon was brandished immediately upon exiting his car. Meeks went on to call for voters to express themselves at the polling booths and “use our energy to make sure elected officials come up with concrete laws to protect our citizens.” So maybe the issue isn’t closing yet.

> Officers at the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol have reported a record-breaking number of illegal immigrant deaths for the year. The death toll has reached 415 in the past 11 months. The increase is attributed to many factors, including greater heat and more desperate, dangerous tactics by smugglers.

> There are new allegations of police abuse involving the NYPD. But the cops are the victims in this case. Officers filed a labor grievance over getting cut and bloodied while providing hair samples during random drug tests. The complaining officers also said they were subjected to unclean conditions. Guess Dirty Hairy cops just weren’t feeling lucky, punk.

Essay 134 posted a copy of Shona Seifert’s court-mandated essay — check it out. Then enjoy the MultiCultClassics response below.


Asking Shona Seifert to draft an essay on the Proposed Code Of Ethics For The Advertising Industry is like asking O.J. Simpson to deliver a thesis on Healthy Relationships With Ex-Wives.

Seifert’s proposal makes a strong case for extending her prison sentence. You don’t have to read between the lines to see Seifert has not come to accept her own unlawful acts. Her negative and illegal thinking is blatantly clear. She throws blame on everything and everyone but herself, which is actually the standard behavior for a pathological felon — or a senior level account person in the Larry Tate mold. Then again, Tate’s shenanigans never warranted jail time.

Seifert also insults the business leaders and icons quoted throughout her exposition. These people never recommended cheating, lying or deliberate misconduct (a few of Woody Allen’s fictional characters excluded). Seifert is closer to a religious charlatan or even a fanatical terrorist who twists spiritual teachings to justify evil deeds. She should instead reference Hussein or Hitler — they’re more her style.

The judge who instructed Seifert to author the how-to manual probably had noble intentions. But the end result may generate greater harm than good. Seifert casts a bad light on the field, creating a net impression that unethical practices are the norm versus the exception.

Let’s keep things in proper perspective. Michael Jackson does not represent ideal parenting and childcare. The rogue officers at Abu Ghraib do not represent the U.S. Army. Jose Canseco does not represent Major League Baseball. Doctor Kervorkian does not represent the AMA. Enron executives do not represent American business. Shona Seifert does not represent the advertising industry.

Breaking the rules is admirable from a creative standpoint. But breaking the law is an entirely different story.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Essay 133

Official MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Orange County officials officially apologized for scheduling a special primary during a special Jewish holiday (see Essay 116). The apology includes offering early voting at synagogues and city halls. But others are attempting to create a bill that will allow Governor Schwarzenegger to pick an entirely new date. Schwarzenegger is rumored to be leaning toward moving the election to December 25. Just kidding.

• LAPD officials officially declined to apologize for actions involving Nation of Islam leader Tony Muhammad. Muhammad claimed he was kicked in the face after being handcuffed. The LAPD denied the charges. Guess the cops kicked Muhammad’s face before cuffing him. But only after failed attempts to kick him in the groin. Just kidding.

• London subway system officials officially banned Jerry Hall’s ads for her new reality show. The show has Hall seeking a younger boy toy from a stable of 12 studs — with the “winner” nabbing a six-figure wad of loot. The posters for the program depicted Hall with half-naked men wearing leashes. The subway system has a rule prohibiting images of people as sex objects. However, it’s OK for Londoners to engage in sex acts in the subways. Just kidding.

• No official apologies are necessary in a case of alleged police abuse in New York. A prisoner in Queens claimed cops roughed him up following his arrest. But a video camera showed the prisoner deliberately slammed his own head against a cell wall to create the injuries. The videotape captured cops urging the prisoner to stop, warning him, “You’re going to knock yourself out.” “I want to knock myself out and blame it on you guys,” the prisoner responded. Hope the judge inevitably pummels the prisoner with his gavel. Not kidding.

• The issue of media bias has officially risen along with the waters in New Orleans. Blacks are depicted looting stores. Whites are depicted looking for food. Only in America does a natural disaster become a racial disaster. Look for the aid concerts to be broadcast exclusively on BET.

Essay 132

International/National News: A Swaziland princess held a party with rowdiness and drinking to celebrate the end of a chastity decree. The traditional rite does not call for booze and loud music. So a Swazi official reacted in a proper traditional manner — he beat the princess and her pals with a stick. Meanwhile, the United States Postal Service unveiled more stamps commemorating important events including Civil Rights, Voting Rights and the Freedom Riders. Mexican President Vicente Fox may join the efforts by presenting stamps featuring Memin Pinguin and Little Black Sambo.

Police News: Reports now claim the Texas cops who stopped Al Sharpton’s speeding car had their revolvers drawn. One witness stated the police aimed their guns at Sharpton. Hard to believe these stories — if true, Sharpton would certainly be ranting and rhyming. Meanwhile, community groups in L.A. are demanding the firing of police involved in the incident with Nation of Islam leader Tony Muhammad. Muhammad claims he was kicked in the face after being handcuffed. This all makes Rev. James Meeks’ experience seem downright tame. Or downright typical.

Nazi News: A retired carpenter in Chicago is no longer a U.S. citizen, thanks to a federal judge who determined the man was a former Nazi operative. The judge declared the man worked with Nazis as a member of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police during World War II, and he entered the country illegally 50 years ago. Meanwhile, the mayor of London is in trouble for comparing a Jewish reporter to a Nazi. The mayor had inquired if the reporter was a “German war criminal” — then he said the reporter was “just like a concentration camp guard. You’re just doing it because you’re paid to, aren’t you?” Sergeant Schultz denied involvement with the carpenter or reporter, firmly insisting, “I know nothiiiiiiiing!”

Medical News: A New Hampshire doctor is being examined for allegedly telling an obese patient that only Black men might be interested in her (the physician claims reading polls showing Black men are attracted to overweight women). According to the woman’s complaint, the doctor told her, “Let’s face it, if your husband were to die tomorrow, who would want you? Well, men might want you, but not the types you want to want you. Might even be a black guy.” Or a Dove brand manager.