Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Essay 1643

Work and play in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The Los Angeles Times reported that Latino students are less inclined to seek college loans, opting to work their way through school. “My parents have always said, ‘If you don't have the money to pay for it, then work for it,’” said one student. Educators worry that job demands hurt the students academically. “I see this happen all the time in my classroom, students who are overworked and under-prepared for class,” said an instructor. “When I ask them about taking out loans instead of working so much, their thinking is, ‘If you can’t pay it in cash, then it’s not a good idea.’” Click on the essay title above to read the full story.

• The NAACP and Clemson University officials are investigating another Martin Luther King Jr. party that took place off campus. Partygoers wore Blackface and drank malt liquor. The university’s president was “appalled, angered and disappointed” to learn about the event. Maybe these students should emulate their Latino peers and get jobs.

• The local chapter of the California Restaurant Assn. volunteered to ban trans fat within 18 months. Los Angeles County officials had sought to legally mandate the move, but counsel informed them that they didn’t have the authority to do so (see Essay 1623). “We will be using incentives and education rather than the heavy hammer of an ordinance,” said one official. No comment yet from Fatburgers officials.

Essay 1642

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Essay 1641

If Blacks can be persuaded to visit South Africa, surely a few can be lured to Madison Avenue.

Essay 1640

More letters from responding to Tim Arnold’s column (see Essay 1544)…


Tim Arnold’s Diversity Column Sparks Debate

I loved [Tim Arnold’s “It’s All About the Music,” Jan. 8] piece and agree with a lot of what he had to say. As an industry veteran of both general market (D’Arcy, BBDO, K&E, JWT) and targeted shops (UniWorld), I remember his Budweiser work.

I always thought of his agency as one of the few that “got it right,” and even lured one of his young African-American art directors to New York. I can’t believe, however, that he’d think there is no pervasive prejudiced behavior in the agency business. It’s there, it’s real, and in the most benign way of thinking, it springs from having one dominant point of view about what “good” creative is, and who is talented. Look at the tone of the responses to the Human Rights Commission agreement. There’s a lot of hooey about “lowered standards” and the industry hiring based solely on “talent.” Having toiled in general market agencies alongside Caucasians who were hired based on everything from personal connections to great legs, I can personally say it ain’t so. And, having seen what happens to the “talent” assessment of creatives who voluntarily leave the general market world to work in multicultural shops, I know how our industry devalues those who choose to work in a more culturally expressive environment.

I don’t know if it’s an accident that we both got our start at D’Arcy (Bloomfield Hills, in my case). Perhaps there was a more progressive mind-set. But I do know this: Despite a long career full of successes, accolades, great jobs and salaries, I remain convinced that the industry is rife with bias and white entitlement. We can’t both be right, and the numbers tell a pretty clear story. I wish you were right. I hope the ad industry you write about comes to pass.

Valerie Graves
Chief creative officer
New York

It’s amazing the diversity you nurtured purely out of the instinct for what’s right, and what makes sense in creating the right kind of climate to make great advertising. It seems obvious that the more diversity you have represented by your creatives, the more authentic and honest the work. As an advertiser, you have to be able to “authentically” communicate with all kinds of demographics, and you need all of the ammunition you can get to achieve that.

The problem is, not everyone has the ability to see the obvious. If every agency were as open-minded as you, there wouldn't be a need for mandates, protests and hearings (if you look at the senior management of any of the top agencies, I assure you that you'll see an obvious absence of diversity). I doubt that forcing people to be more conscious will work; it has to come from within. But sometimes you have to force an issue to make people aware of the obvious. That’s pretty much what MLK and others sacrificed their lives for not too long ago.

Kevin Jordan

One of the things that continues to disappoint is that as much as we say, “It’s about the work—period,” I’ve seen creatives and account folks alike offered jobs based solely on their resumes and portfolios, yet lose those opportunities once the creative directors and account directors realize (in the interview) that the talent is actually of color.

I’ve known headhunters who are so frustrated with various general market shops because they send them top candidates who happen to be of color, only to have the shops send them back with excuses of “not right for our culture.” Yet when they’ve sent white candidates who in their opinion weren’t as good, they got hired. Some headhunters have recently said certain agencies still tell them in no uncertain terms “do not send black talent.”

I think educational programs and internships are a great idea, but it will take more folks who are willing to actually do something about this. I still think the issues are too one-sided in terms of solutions. People of color can do a lot, but you (metaphorically) can’t expect people to consistently fix problems that they’re not responsible for creating, while not at least encouraging those who are breaking things/benefiting from the damage to join in. It’s just not productive enough.

Hadji Williams

Essay 1639

Word on the street in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• New York transit honchos are irked over a new subway-themed line of condoms. Approved by the city Health Department, who didn’t need the transit department’s ok, the condoms feature the Metropolitan Transportation Authority logo. “I don’t think it’s the appropriate thing for the MTA to be involved with,” said an MTA board member. “We have enough trouble servicing our clients, doing the right thing, making sure the buses are on time … that’s what the MTA’s mission is.” Hey, a potential tagline could be: Get off on the bus.

• Borat may be facing a new lawsuit. Now an Israeli comedian charges the character has ripped off his trademark phrase — Wa wa wee wa. The alleged victim claims he coined the exclamation 16 years ago for the hit comedy show “Zehu Zeh.” It all should make for interesting opening and closing arguments.

• The Mayor of Moscow declared a gay-rights parade to be “satanic” and vowed the event would never happen in the Russian city. Last year, activists ignored the ban and wound up being attacked by protestors and detained by the cops. No word yet if “Borat” will be allowed to play in local theaters.

Essay 1638

From The Chicago Sun-Times…


Super Bowl equality still eludes many


Super Bowl Sunday. It’s an American celebration, spectacle and annual ritual. The Chicago Bears pitted against the Indianapolis Colts -- two great teams, tested and victorious, head to head. Already the arguments have started. The Colts offense against the ferocious Bears defense. The Bears running game against the Colts passing wizardry. Manning against Urlacher. Dungy against Smith.

Tony Dungy facing off against Lovie Smith? That’s right, this Super Bowl will feature an extraordinary milestone -- two African-American head coaches leading their teams into the biggest show of all. Sixty years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in sports; 42 years after the right to vote. Our progress is now on display at the Super Bowl, a great American moment.

Both are men of dignity and unblemished character. Both have demonstrated the skill and will it takes to mold strong and independent athletes into a great team -- in an age of free agents, multimillion-dollar contracts, and 24/7 media. And both have understood what this moment means; they are close friends, who have rooted for one another to get to the final stage.

Coming from Chicago, I’ve followed Lovie Smith and Da Bears through the season’s trials and triumphs. But I pay particular tribute to Tony Dungy of the Colts. He is, in many ways, the godfather of African-American football coaches. He faced the closed doors. He dealt with the disappointments of being passed over without consideration. He knows how hard the struggle was to get to this moment. And strikingly, of the six African-American head professional football coaches, three others came from Tony Dungy’s Tampa Bay team: Herman Edwards, Mike Tomlin and Lovie Smith himself.

When the whistle blows on the Super Bowl, the game will be played on a level playing field. The rules will be the same for all. Two great teams will line up, the players will face off head to head, and -- at the end -- however great the disappointments or thrills, all will accept the outcome. The fans will be focused on uniform color, not skin color. They'll cheer the team from their region, not the one from their race. In some way, this is Dr. Martin Luther King’s view of the Promised Land. Level playing fields, equal rules, equal opportunity.

As we celebrate the success of these two teams and these remarkable coaches, let us not ignore the struggle. It was not so long ago that Dungy and Smith would not even be considered as head coaches. That blacks were not “qualified” to be quarterbacks. That the doors were closed to the playing field, the voting booth, the restaurant counter.

Dave Duerson, formerly all-pro defensive back for the Chicago Bears and now a businessman and scholar, is chairman of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Sports Commission, and Dextor Clinkscale, a former Dallas Cowboy, is now our sports director. We work closely with the Black Coaches Association, executive director, Floyd Keith, and with Dr. Richard Lapchick, documenting college graduation rates. One result has been the passage of what are called the Rooney Rules, mandating that an African-American coach must be considered for every opening.

That same struggle has taken place across our society. Too often, Americans celebrate the change when it succeeds, but slight or scorn the struggle needed to make that change take place.

We cannot afford to be complacent, because we still have a long way to go to make the playing field even for all Americans. Sunday's football game is an occasion of joy, but it’s not the end of the struggle. Too many children in this affluent nation are born to poverty, deprived of adequate nutrition, health care and early education. They are raised on mean streets, and go to crowded schools not ready to learn. They are expected to pass the same hurdles, but with shackles on their feet. We need to create equal opportunity from the start.

So on Super Bowl Sunday, as we celebrate the success of Dungy and Smith, let us commit ourselves to the continued struggle that made this success possible. And … go Bears.

Essay 1637

Essay 1636

MultiCultClassics feels compelled to respond to the letter posted in Essay 1635, especially since the author referenced comments from this blog.

First, we want to stress again that this is not an attack on Tim Arnold. The man deserves respect for his willingness to openly confront matters. No one doubts for a second that Arnold sincerely intends to do the right thing. Let’s agree there is much to be accomplished, and it will entail collaboration and serious sweat.

At the same time, Arnold does not represent everyone. Neither do the writers of this blog. However, there are attitudes and beliefs symbolic and symptomatic of various factions in the drama. Opinions should be thoughtfully examined versus viewed as gospel.

So let the examination commence.

Arnold’s raw exposures call to mind a book published in 1961, and produced as a movie in 1964 — “Black Like Me” by John Howard Griffin. The book detailed the experiences of a Caucasian man who darkened his skin and posed as a Black man, traveling through racially segregated Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Eddie Murphy twisted the idea for comedic effect on “Saturday Night Live,” and a contemporary version of the theme was presented with the FX series “Black. White.”

There are lots of similar moments on display with Arnold. The man brings it all — from navel-gazing angst to flashes of enlightenment to hardcore cluelessness. Yet is he really trying to relate to perspectives besides his own and analyze situations from multiple angles?

Arnold now realizes the advertising industry’s diversity issues are indeed complicated. He knows that what his editorial “painfully lacked was an overt recognition of the problem.” But does he comprehend the contradictions and complexities compounded by his admittedly simplistic writings?

Arnold says he wants “to urge minorities — the ones who still feel they’re being excluded from this predominantly white business, and want in — to take advantage of the demands of the recent HRC agreement signed by some 11 general market agencies, and come bang on our doors. What the hell, it’s a start — and it will demand that these agencies at least meet you halfway.”

Has Arnold considered that minorities are no different than majorities when it comes to seeking jobs? That is, people hope to be judged by their skills and potential. No one wants to “take advantage” of the signed agreements. And anybody who suggests such a strategy just doesn’t get it.

Minorities do not require Arnold’s coaching and cajoling. The truth is, the man is directing the wrong audience. Minorities weren’t asked to change. Let’s be clear, folks. The general market agencies crafted — and absolutely inspired — the pacts. Arnold and his Madison Avenue peers are the ones who must alter their behavior. Minorities should not plead for anyone to meet them halfway; rather, majorities are obligated to traverse the full way.

This isn’t a modern-day Emancipation Proclamation. Do not expect minorities to rejoice and swarm in droves for job openings. Instead, advertising agencies need to proactively recruit with honesty, enthusiasm and an inclusive spirit. Arnold and his pals must strive to woo and embrace — otherwise, they face stiff financial penalties, public humiliation and worse.

Additionally, progress will be damned difficult if folks label the agreements as nettlesome chores they’ve been commanded to address. The HRC and Jesse Jackson are not coercive enemies. They’re merely spanking an industry that has lied to them since 1973.

The people who harbor disgust for the HRC and Jackson need to get over it. Want to avoid hearings and mandates? It’s easy. Be professional. Make demonstrable and measurable revisions. Honor your word.

It will be interesting to watch agency leaders ultimately execute new initiatives. People who have been turned off to the business are thriving in other fields. Locating qualified mid- and senior-level talent will be hard. It’s a safe bet that shops will opt to raid the “multicultural” firms for bodies. Sadly, the industry that boasts of its creativity tends to concoct obvious, lazy solutions in these scenarios.

Of course, minorities will have to play significant roles. Those already in the business need to lead and train the culturally clueless, which is certainly a Herculean task. Plus, there is a great deal of mentoring and networking necessary for success. Everyone will have to join forces on a myriad of levels for this revolution.

Arnold ends with typical (unintentional?) condescending preaching: “Yes, there’s a problem. But why not call it an opportunity, and agree to do something about it, together? I’m not done with this issue, not even close. Neither are you.”

Not sure who Arnold is targeting with the very last sentence. Minorities have been dealing with the dilemmas forever. Welcome to the party, Tim. Where the hell have you been for the past 30 years of your career?

Arnold ought to aim his closing remarks at the general market agencies’ masses. They must start calling it an opportunity and commit to doing something about it — although technically, their bosses’ signatures already sealed the inevitable compliance. This endeavor will be palatable when it becomes a vocational and moral imperative.

Arnold says he’s not even close to being done. But is he even close to being truly qualified to cope with the challenges ahead?

Are any of us?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Essay 1635

The following appeared at — it’s a follow-up to stuff presented in Essays 1560 and 1544…




Arnold Responds

The issue of diversity in our industry—meaning, the profound lack of it—is complex, and, with a few notable exceptions, runs deep and wide historically, currently and emotionally.

What my column painfully lacked was an overt recognition of the problem. I do not for one minute imagine this problem doesn’t exist. My intentions with the column were simple and twofold: to urge minorities—the ones who still feel they’re being excluded from this predominantly white business, and want in—to take advantage of the demands of the recent HRC agreement signed by some 11 general market agencies, and come bang on our doors. What the hell, it’s a start—and it will demand that these agencies at least meet you halfway. Secondly, I wanted to share my own experiences and the personal privilege of being part of some genuine multicultural and ethnic advertising and communications successes inside general market agencies, and early on with the Budweiser business.

Fortunate as I’ve been to be part of diverse teams whose only issue was the work and its genuineness—along with the shared joy of making it happen (and yeah, it was “all about the music”)—it’s clear that many, if not most, have not had the benefit of such experiences.

And so I heard from some of you. I’ve responded to every one of you, and invited you to meet with me and at the very least continue the dialogue, regardless of point of view or tone. Two of us are going to work together to see if we can find an agency for a black internship. One of you has invited me to join the New York Advertising Club’s diversity committee, and I’m honored to accept. I’ve also been accused of embracing “colored stereotypes” and been called an unknowing, “grinning old white man,” which I’ll accept as only half right. Maybe the point is, in a small way, we’ve ripped the scab off an ugly, insidious wound. And isn’t this kind of dialogue every bit as valuable as the more formal, and more removed, HRC hearings?

Remarkably, last Friday I’m sitting in Memphis Marriott’s restaurant, still feeling the unsettling impact of the responses to my column, and none other than Rev. Jesse Jackson passes. You cannot mess with this kind of thing; it must be embraced. So I go over and introduce myself. And tell him that after 30 years in the ad business, and having the great experience of running the Bud account back when he came to St. Louis, I’ve written this column about agency diversity. He asks me to send him the piece, which of course I do. Maybe he’ll be moved to respond. In any case, encountering him at this juncture speaks volumes to me.

Yes, there’s a problem. But why not call it an opportunity, and agree to do something about it, together? I’m not done with this issue, not even close. Neither are you.

Essay 1634

Essay 1633

The copywriter and art director responsible for this ad are underachievers.

Essay 1632

From The New York Times…


On a Trip Through History, Students Join Freedom Riders


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — More times than he remembers, La’Markus Cook has traveled south on Interstate 65 from Nashville, where he attends American Baptist College, to his home outside Montgomery, Ala. But never, he said, as he did this weekend.

Air brakes hissing and motors rumbling, four buses retraced segments of the 1961 Freedom Rides on Saturday and Sunday, giving students aboard a front-seat view of a pivotal moment in civil rights history. On the rides 46 years ago, activists armed with only their convictions braved white mobs to defy segregation of interstate bus travel.

There have been many previous expeditions to locations where riders were beaten, bloodied and jailed, but this weekend’s was probably the largest and most ambitious attempt to keep the history alive.

“I don’t know that any students have ever had this opportunity before,” said Raymond Arsenault, the author of the 2006 book “Freedom Riders,” considered an authoritative history.

About 100 students from Vanderbilt University, Tennessee State University, Fisk University and American Baptist College accompanied veterans of the civil rights movement, some of whom came close to death in the bloody confrontations over interstate travel in the South.

[Click on the essay title above to read the full story.]

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Essay 1631

Caddy. Rhymes with daddy.

Um, are baddy and saddy actual words?

Essay 1630

From The Chicago Tribune…


Illiniwek: Symbol or mascot?

By Jodi S. Cohen, the Tribune's higher education reporter

It’s common knowledge that Chief Illiniwek, the mascot of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is controversial.

But until last week, I didn’t realize that the sentence above also would be controversial.

Those who support Chief Illiniwek--the barefoot student who performs in a buckskin costume and feather headdress during halftime--believe that calling him a mascot reveals an anti-chief bias.

They were quick to tell me that I had made a mascot misstep in stories reporting that the Oglala Sioux tribe wants the university to return the regalia used by Chief Illiniwek.

The chief’s supporters prefer the term “symbol” and say that “mascot” has become the politically correct word used by critics who believe the chief is a politically incorrect representation of Native Americans. They say the anti-chief camp uses the word “mascot” to make it sound as if the chief is demeaning to Native Americans.

What chief supporters don’t seem to realize is that their choice of the word “symbol” is just as political as “mascot.” They think “symbol” makes the chief sound more dignified and better describes their view that the chief is a respectful tribute to the native people of Illinois.

Framing language to advance a particular agenda is not new. The American Civil War was called by some the War Between the States, the War of Northern Aggression and the War of the Rebellion, said lexicographer Erin McKean, editor of Chicago-based Verbatim magazine.

The current Iraq war has its own politically charged vocabulary. The proposed troop increase has been variously called a surge, an escalation and an augmentation, for example.

“Anyone strongly for or against a particular position will use any means necessary rhetorically to strengthen their position,” said McKean, who also is editor-in-chief of The New Oxford American Dictionary. “If saying ‘symbol’ instead of ‘mascot’ convinces someone that Chief Illiniwek is a dignified representative of the earlier peoples of Illinois, that is what they want to do.”

According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, a mascot is “a person, animal, or object adopted by a group as a symbolic figure, especially to bring them good luck.” The word has French origins that can be traced to an 1880 operetta called “La Mascotte.”

To be sure, a dictionary definition or expert linguists won’t solve the yearslong battle over the chief and the language to describe him.

[Click on the essay title above to read the full story.]

Essay 1629

Change happens in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Ebony magazine has new blood. This month, Harriette Cole was named Ebony’s creative director. Cole is an etiquette advisor and author, currently writing a syndicated column for the New York Daily News. “What we have to do is get that younger reader to pick [Ebony] up,” said Cole. “Is it relevant for the younger reader? I would say yes, but when you go to the newsstand and have 100 titles to choose from, what are you choosing? We need to redesign.” Although Johnson Publishing Company, which publishes Ebony and Jet magazines, is headquartered in Chicago, Cole will work from New York. Vice President and Editorial Director Brian Monroe was hired last August by Johnson Publishing Company President and CEO Linda Johnson Rice. “[Ebony and Jet] have been successful for 60 years in the Black community, but in the last decade or so, they’ve gotten a little bit stagnant,” said Monroe. “The [February issue of Ebony] exemplifies where we’re headed. We are going to be newsy and timely, but we also want to be fun. … You’ll be seeing a lot of changes over the next 12 months. Black America is ready for a new Jet, a new Ebony.” Hey, Black America’s been ready for quite some time. The question has always been: Is Johnson Publishing Company ready?

• Mickey D’s has allegedly concocted a trans-fat-free oil that the company feels works with its World-famous french fries. Secret tests were conducted last summer, and the fast feeder is allegedly supplying about 1,200 restaurants with the amazing oil. However, company officials said it won’t go global until early 2008. “We don’t want to jeopardize the iconic nature of the french fry, which is so important to our brand,” said McDonald's chief executive. “Yet we have a responsibility to serve the best french fry … that balances between value and nutrition.” Of course, Mickey D’s will define the balances on its own dubious scales.

• A blogger in China sparked huge reactions when he called for Starbucks to shutter its restaurant in the Forbidden City, Beijing’s imperial palace. A Starbucks statement insists the company “appreciates the deep history and culture of the Forbidden City and has operated in a respectful manner that fits within the environment.” The blogger, who is actually surprised over the furor he created, said, “This is not an issue of nationalism. The message I am trying to send is about preservation of our national heritage. I am totally in favor of globalization. And China is in favor of globalization.” The Starbucks will probably be replaced by a McDonald’s.

Essay 1628

From The New York Times…


Study of Immigrants Links Lighter Skin and Higher Income


NASHVILLE (AP) — Light-skinned immigrants in the United States make more money on average than those with darker complexions, and the chief reason appears to be discrimination, a researcher says.

The scholar, Joni Hersch, a professor of law and economics at Vanderbilt University, looked at a government survey of 2,084 legal immigrants to the United States from around the world and found that those with the lightest skin earned an average of 8 percent to 15 percent more than similar immigrants with much darker skin.

“On average,” Dr. Hersch said, “being one shade lighter has about the same effect as having an additional year of education.”

The study also found that taller immigrants earned more than shorter ones, with an extra inch of height associated with a 1 percent increase in income.

Other researchers said the findings were consistent with other studies on color and pointed to a skin-tone prejudice that went beyond race.

Dr. Hersch took into consideration other factors that could affect wages, like English-language proficiency, education, occupation, race or country of origin, and found that skin tone still seemed to make a difference in earnings. That meant that if two similar immigrants from Bangladesh, for example, came to the United States at the same time, with the same occupation and ability to speak English, the lighter-skinned one would make more money on average.

“I thought that once we controlled for race and nationality, I expected the difference to go away,” Dr. Hersch said, “but even with people from the same country, the same race, skin color really matters.”

Although many cultures show a bias toward lighter skin, she said her analysis showed that the skin-color advantage was not based on preferential treatment for light-skinned people in their country of origin. The bias, she said, occurs in the United States.

Essay 1627

Pure Protein? Pure Bullshit.

Essay 1626

From The Chicago Sun-Times…


Why black kids have negative self-image


Next Sunday, Lovie Smith will be the first black head coach in the Super Bowl -- as will his mentor, Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts. So no matter who wins -- the Chicago Bears or that other team -- Super Bowl 41 guarantees that for the first time in professional football the world champions will be coached by an African American. That’s the two steps forward. Now the giant step back.

After more than two decades of Oprah, the Queen of All Media, you’d think that young black girls would have a better self-image. They don’t. Black boys neither. In our world of bleached blonds -- white-skinned, brown-skinned and black – black’s not beautiful, at least not among the majority of African-American preschool children interviewed by Kiri Davis, a high school student at Manhattan’s Urban Academy. As part of a school film project, Davis re-conducted psychologist Kenneth B. Clark’s “doll test” to see if progress has been made. Clark’s 1940s study, which had an impact on the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, determined that young black children preferred white dolls over dolls that looked like them.

History repeats in “A Girl Like Me.” Davis’ seven-minute movie asks some tiny tots in a Harlem day-care center to choose between two dolls that are identical, except one is brown, the other white. Fifteen of the 21 preschoolers decided white was all right.

“Can you show me the doll that looks bad?” Davis asks a little black girl, who is holding the one she’d selected as “the doll you like to play with.” The girl puts down the doll she’s holding and picks up the brown one.

“And why does that look bad?”

“Because she’s black,” the little girl answers.

“And why is this the nice doll?” Davis asks as the girl touches the white doll. “Because she's white,” the girl says.

“A Girl like Me” also features African-American teenage girls talking about perceptions of race. Two of the girls discuss the “good hair/bad hair” standard, explaining that the more naturally straight the hair, the better quality it is thought to be.

It’s amazing that two generations after the “Black is Beautiful” mantra of the 1960s, some African Americans still believe that it’s not. It’s amazing that four decades after James Brown’s chart-topper, “I’m Black and I’m Proud,” so many African Americans aren’t. It’s amazing that in the same year hip-hop artist Kanye West told the world that “President Bush doesn’t care about black people,” Davis was discovering that neither do shorties in Harlem.

It’s amazing, but I can see how it’s come about. Our children receive mixed messages. In the world of hip-hop, where black blonds proliferate and the N-word resonates, children are bombarded with video images of butt-shaking, almost-naked, black Kewpie dolls.

In the world of the Internet, Davis’ movie, with its disturbing tests, has been making the rounds through e-mail. Another e-mail chain, just as disturbing, is also in circulation.

“The sad thing about this article is that the essence of it is true. The truth hurts. I just hope this sets more black people in motion toward making real progress,” the e-mail bemoans before admonishing the receiver to “help prove them wrong! Read and pass on.”

Beneath that is a photograph of a white woman, Dee Lee, a certified financial planner, who, the e-mail tells us, reads these words on an unidentified New York radio station: “They are still our slaves. We can continue to reap profits from the blacks without the effort of physical slavery. Look at the current methods of containment that they use on themselves. Ignorance, greed and selfishness.”

The e-mail continues with the rest of the words it says Dee Lee read, and they are no less insulting. There is one problem with the provocative e-mail: mistaken identity. There is another Dee Lee. He looks like the brown doll. This Dee Lee is a black comedian and host of Dee Lee Reality Radio.

Ahhhh, how about those Bears?

[Click on the essay title above to view Kiri Davis’ video.]

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Essay 1625

Here are two classic self-promotional messages for advertising agencies. J. M. Mathes scouts for talent, but it’s unlikely the search will include the Native Americans J.M.M.’s mocking. Meanwhile, at C.P.V. the marketing and creative men see eye to eye — and they’ll see that only White men run the business.

Essay 1624

Lantus side effects include an uncontrollable urge to park your motorcycle in the living room.

Essay 1623

Lessons learned in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• In Yonkers, New York, a teacher was expelled from classes after instructing seventh-grade students to draw male genitalia on the chalkboard. “There was no way we were going to let him be in front of children,” said a school spokesperson. The teacher was leading a lesson on human anatomy and sexuality. One parent actually supported the teacher and declared, “This is biology, it’s anatomy, it’s human sexuality. … They’re in puberty. They’re aware of it on one level or another.” Wonder how the parent will feel when his daughter shows him her homework assignments.

• Los Angeles County failed in its proposal to ban trans fat in restaurants, as the county counsel declared the state has jurisdiction on the matter. It was suggested that the county could create a voluntary program to get restaurants to alter their menus. Right, let’s count on Mickey D’s to comply without legal or physical threats.

• Jacko’s back. The King of Pop has been popping up throughout the U.S. lately, with plans that include a Las Vegas show and more. Jackson has even scheduled a tour in Japan. “My friends and fans in Japan have been so supportive of me and my family for many, many years,” said Jacko. “My fans in Japan helped me achieve historic milestones in the music industry.” Memo to Japan: Hide your male children to prevent Jacko from achieving historic milestones in other areas.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Essay 1622

In Black-targeted automotive advertising, style is always in style.

Essay 1621

Creating lame, concept-free diversity ads: priceless.

Essay 1620

School Daze in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• The New York Times reported on the efforts of colleges and universities to recruit minority students in light of Michigan’s new ban on affirmative action. “You’d think public universities are charged with special responsibility for ensuring access, but it could come to be exactly the opposite, if there are a lot of these state initiatives,” said the dean of the University of Michigan Law School. “In terms of public values, it’s a big step backward.” Ward Connerly, the black California businessman backing anti-affirmative action initiatives in California and Michigan, argued, “Every individual should have the same opportunity to compete. … I don’t worry about the outcomes.” Click on the essay title above to read the full story.

• Wisconsin state lawmakers proposed mandating schools to teach students about the Hmong people, hoping the effort would ease racial tensions fueled by homicides involving Hmong hunters. “All of the difficulties that the Hmong face and experience in the U.S. are due to the fact that there is no formal teaching about the Hmong to the general public,” said the president of the Hmong Community of Wisconsin. Wonder how initiatives like this might play in Michigan.

• A report by the 2007 California Childhood Obesity Conference in Anaheim shows about half of the highly-marketed kids’ food with images or names of fruit on packaging actually contain no fruit. A dietitian for Prevention Institute, an Oakland-based nonprofit promoting community-based health and safety programs, said, “I really don’t think a lay person knows that fruit drink doesn’t mean fruit juice, especially if it has these beautiful pictures of fruit on it.” Maybe “food” manufacturers should create critters based on chemicals.

Essay 1619

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Essay 1618

For a company that service-marked “Inspiration required,” this ad is awfully uninspiring.

Essay 1617

Partying hard with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Students at Tarleton State University in Dallas sparked controversy by staging a Martin Luther King Jr. Day party, complete with fried chicken, malt liquor and gangsta gear. Online event photos displayed students in Afro wigs and gold teeth mocking step shows. Another photo showed a student decked out like Aunt Jemima. “I am personally insulted by these photographs and am disappointed that Tarleton students have demonstrated such insensitivity,” said the university’s president. Somebody better warn him that we’re about a week away from Black History Month.

• “Grey’s Anatomy” star Isaiah Washington signed up for a counseling program (see Essay 1612). The actor released a statement to announce, “With the support of my family and friends, I have begun counseling. I regard this as a necessary step toward understanding why I did what I did and making sure it never happens again. I appreciate the fact that I have been given this opportunity and I remain committed to transforming my negative actions into positive results, personally and professionally.” Perhaps his first counseling assignment could be to organize a cast party to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

• Ford Motor Company lost $5.8 billion in 4Q, the worst loss in its history. “We began aggressive actions in 2006 to restructure our automotive business so we can operate profitably at lower volumes with a product mix that better reflects consumer demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles,” said CEO Alan Mulally. “We fully recognize our business reality and are dealing with it. We have a plan and are on track to deliver.” Being “on track” includes the biggest loss in history? Now that’s a bold move.

Essay 1616

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Essay 1615

If Wal-Mart’s really committed to diversity, don’t advertise it — just walk the walk.

Essay 1614

From The Chicago Sun-Times…


Kraft takes Cream of Wheat off its breakfast menu

BY CHERYL V. JACKSON, Business Reporter

Kraft Foods Inc. is dumping the Cream of Wheat line, selling the century-old hot cereal brand to a New Jersey-based food business for about $200 million.

A new subsidiary of B&G Foods Inc., the canned meat, spices and other food products company that owns Ac’cent, Emeril’s, Ortega and Red Devil brands, also will get the Cream of Rice brand and some manufacturing equipment in the cash deal expected to close this quarter, the companies announced Tuesday.

Cream of Wheat, around since 1893, has been a Kraft operation since 2000 when then-Kraft parent Philip Morris Cos. bought Nabisco Holdings, which owned the cereal.

The hot cereals, which generated about $60 million in sales last year, didn’t jibe with Kraft's slimming portfolio, said spokesman Charlie Simpson.

“We’re focusing on businesses that have the greatest long-term sustainable competitive advantage,” he said.

Kraft, the Northfield-based food and beverage giant that owns Oreo, Kool-Aid and Oscar Mayer, is preparing to be spun off from parent Altria Group Inc. and is putting resources behind brands it thinks have long-term growth potential. New York-based Altria plans on Jan. 31 to announce the date it will separate Kraft from its tobacco units, Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International.

The cereal sale is part of an initiative to cut about 10 percent of the products accounting for its $34 billion in annual revenue and eliminating 14,000 jobs and about 40 plants to save $1.16 billion by 2010, said Gregg Warren, equity analyst at Morningstar Inc.

“It’s in the same line as Milk-Bone and Minute Rice,” Warren said of brands Kraft sold last year. Milk-Bone pet snacks was sold for $580 million; Minute Rice for $280 million. “They’re going in the direction similar to that of a lot of packaged food companies, trying to narrow down their focus into core categories and spending on growing categories and lines that really resonate with consumers.”

The B&G subsidiary is borrowing money to make the purchase.

Essay 1613

Essay 1612

From The Associated Press…


‘Grey’ Star Meets With Gay Activists


LOS ANGELES — “Grey’s Anatomy” star Isaiah Washington, under fire for using a gay slur about a co-star, met Monday with gay rights activists who said he agreed to help educate the public about the cruelty of such language.

“He seemed very sincere in his interest in working with us in an ongoing basis,” Kevin Jennings, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. “We emphasized that this is not a one-shot deal, but an ongoing thing. He was very open to doing this.”

The star of the hit ABC medical drama met with Jennings, who spoke after the private meeting, and Neil G. Giuliano, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. A call to Washington’s publicist for comment was not immediately returned Monday.

According to Jennings, Washington said he wanted to explore ways to work with GLSEN to address issues of “name-calling and how he might use his various platforms to educate people about how painful and wrong it is.”

By coincidence, Jennings noted, Monday was the start of “No Name-Calling Week,” coordinated by GLSEN with national educational partners to help schools find ways to eliminate bullying and slurs of all kinds. His group welcomed Washington’s help in promoting the group’s agenda, Jennings said.

Washington, himself a father, said he understands how the issue effects young people, Jennings said.

Washington, who stepped away from filming for the hour-long meeting, said he is interested in pursuing various options, such as public-service announcements, according to Jennings. No firm agreements were reached, the GLSEN director said.

“I think this is a very good first step toward him showing he really wants to do something. We take him at his word,” Jennings said.

Last October, it was reported that Washington used the term “faggot” about castmate T.R. Knight during an on-set argument with co-star Patrick Dempsey. He used it again backstage at the Jan. 15 Golden Globes as he denied ever uttering it.

Washington issued an apology after he was publicly criticized by GLAAD and chastised by ABC.

“Grey’s Anatomy” led nominees announced Sunday for the 18th annual GLAAD Media Awards, recognizing "mainstream media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender … community and the issues that affect their lives.”

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Essay 1611

Essay 1610

Essay 1609

Macy’s says: Making stars is what we do best.

Making diversity ads is what they do worst.

Essay 1608

Hard news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Drug company Pfizer announced plans to cut 10,000 jobs by 2008. Workers are encouraged to take advantage of any employee discounts on Viagra, because they’re about to get royally screwed.

• Now Mike Tyson is pleading not guilty to drug and DUI charges stemming from an arrest last month (see Essay 1492). “Drug addiction is a victimless crime … the kind where you shouldn’t go to prison,” said Tyson’s lawyer. Gee, sounds like the ex-champ is guilty as hell.

• Virginia Delegate Frank D. Hargrove — who pissed off folks by declaring Blacks should “get over it” regarding slavery — now proposed a resolution to celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday saluting the end of slavery. “I think it’s very worthy because it’s positive that we here in Virginia — and it has nothing to do with the apology — that we celebrate the end of slavery,” said Hargrove. Looking forward to celebrating the end of this guy’s political career.

Essay 1607

From The New York Times…


In Douglass Tribute, Slave Folklore and Fact Collide


At the northwest corner of Central Park, construction is under way on Frederick Douglass Circle, a $15.5 million project honoring the escaped slave who became a world-renowned orator and abolitionist.

Beneath an eight-foot-tall sculpture of Douglass, the plans call for a huge quilt in granite, an array of squares, a symbol in each, supposedly part of a secret code sewn into family quilts and used along the Underground Railroad to aid slaves. Two plaques would explain this.

The only problem: According to many prominent historians, the secret code — the subject of a popular book that has been featured on no less a cultural touchstone than “The Oprah Winfrey Show” — never existed. And now the city is reconsidering the inclusion of the plaques, so as not to “publicize spurious history,” Kate D. Levin, the city’s commissioner of cultural affairs, said yesterday.

The plaques may go, but they have spawned an energetic debate about folklore versus fact, and who decides what becomes the lasting historical record.

The memorial’s link between Douglass, who escaped slavery from Baltimore at age 20, and the coded designs has puzzled historians. But what particularly raised the historians’ ire were the two plaques, one naming the code’s symbols and the other explaining that they were used “to indicate the location of safe houses, escape routes and to convey other information vital to a slave’s escape and survival.”

It’s “a myth, bordering on a hoax,” said David Blight, a Yale University historian who has written a book about Douglass and edited his autobiography. “To permanently associate Douglass’s life with this story instead of great, real stories is unfortunate at best.”

[Click on the essay title above to read the full story.]

Essay 1606

Monday, January 22, 2007

Essay 1605

“Motorcycles drenched in smokey gold. … At Harley-Davidson we are committed to developing a supplier base as diversie as the markets we serve.”

Harley-Davidson’s supplier base could use a proofreader.

Essay 1604

From The New York Daily News…


Obama’s the elephant hunter Dems need

By Stanley Crouch

During a recent stint as a guest on a radio talk show, the question was whether or not Sen. Barack Obama would become the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party in 2008.

It seems to me that if Obama does become the candidate, it will be because the donkeys have not lost their minds to the extent that they would think that Sen. Hillary Clinton could possibly get to the Oval Office. Why? No matter how far in the background he tries to keep himself, Bill Clinton is too large a shadow, there to remind the astute of the Lurleen Burns Wallace story.

In 1967, Wallace followed her husband, George, with a run for the governorship of Alabama. With Alabama governors not allowed to serve consecutive terms, Lurleen and George admitted frankly that if Lurleen was elected, George would continue to make the administrative decisions. The apparent purpose of Lurleen’s candidacy was to make sure that her husband's segregation policies stayed in place. She won with 63% of the vote.

Whether or not they are getting along on good terms, Hillary Clinton cannot expect voters or the opposition party to take her on her own terms. This will hold her back. The separation from her husband’s reputation as gun-shy may have been the deepest reason for initially supporting the Iraq invasion, and it may have been her biggest mistake, because now, as she changes her position, Clinton will appear to be making decisions with a wet finger in the wind.

Beyond that, we must remember this is more a media age than a human one and the TV cameras do not love Hillary Clinton, who seems brittle and self-righteous on video. In person, however, she has extraordinary charisma. That is why her campaign for senator of New York included running all over the state. I don’t know if a whistle-stop presidential campaign will work for a candidate in our time.

Obama, on the other hand, is not only good-looking but gains power on television, which probably has as much to do with his attraction to the liberal moneybags of Hollywood as anything else. He also has a very good-looking wife and has made an obligatory confession about his earlier drug use, which in our time of talk show redemption should not work against him.

That Obama is the son of a man from Kenya and a woman from the Midwest should not hurt him when we saw even lifelong redneck Strom Thurmond speak of praying with big, black Clarence Thomas and his blond wife before his Supreme Court confirmation, as if race and miscegenation were issues Thurmond had never thought about. Now is another time.

What of Obama’s lack of experience and his apparently favoring almost anyone who will give him money? The experience factor will not work against him because he appears to have a sort of optimism that does not put him at odds with the many factors that need to be improved to ready this nation for global competition. The acceptance of money from interests opposed by environmentalists will not be an important issue.

But above all else, I think that Obama is actually positioning himself for the race in 2012, which may be an open sky of possibility if the Democrats lose in 2008. That is a defeat he would share, because there is little doubt that Obama will be the second half of the ticket in 2008 if someone else becomes the presidential candidate.

By 2012, however, he should have gained experience in Washington, be an even bigger fund-raiser and be perfectly ready to take down whomever the elephants have to offer.

Essay 1603

Wells Fargo presents a semi-tardy, sleep-inducing tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Essay 1602



McCann in Push for Diversity

By Kathleen Sampey

NEW YORK McCann Erickson said it is making a concerted effort to ethnically diversify its workforce and has named three executives to further advance the initiative.

Sallie Mars, director of creative services, will add the title director of diversity. The agency also hired Toni Thompson as multicultural program developer and recruiter. She joins from the New York office of research firm Millward Brown. David Hamlin comes aboard as manager of supplier diversity in June. He had been executive director of procurement at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

All three are new positions at the New York-based Interpublic Group agency.

Brett Gosper, president of McCann’s U.S. operations, said the team would “reach beyond the usual sources for minority candidates, and help ensure that McCann meets the needs and expectations of those we recruit.”

The move comes amid pressure for heightened diversity throughout the agency business.

Mars is a nine-year McCann veteran who manages print and broadcast production services in the creative department in New York.

As chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ diversity committee, Mars and her peers have bolstered the ranks of the multicultural advertising intern program from 45 to more than 100 nationwide.

Thompson has worked as an account planner at IPG’s Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis.

Hamlin has spent most of his career in academe. Before Rutgers, he was director of purchasing management for Carnegie Mellon University, from which he also graduated. In his McCann role, he will ensure that companies owned by non-white owners will get an equal chance at bidding on goods and services provided to McCann.

McCann Erickson is a division of McCann Worldgroup whose sibling companies include Momentum and MRM. Its client roster includes, Coca-Cola, GM, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, L’Oreal, MasterCard, Microsoft and Unilever.

Essay 1601

Monday Morning Quarterbacking with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• With their Sunday victories, Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith and Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy became the first Black men to lead their teams to the Super Bowl.

• ESPN cited anonymous sources to report Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was not concealing marijuana in a water bottle when the star was stopped at Miami International Airport recently (see Essay 1590). Unfortunately, Vick does not become the first Black man falsely accused of carrying drugs.

• An AIDS treatment group has targeted Pfizer with a potential lawsuit, accusing the drug manufacturer of illegally hyping Viagra for recreational use. Despite Pfizer’s protests of innocence, its ads do feature headlines like, “What are you doing this New Year’s Eve?” and “Be this Sunday’s MVP.” Somebody double-check Michael Vick’s water bottle.

• Singer Alicia Keys is offering scholarships to students in Jacksonville, New Orleans, Atlanta and New York. “We’re just looking for standout students who are definitely college-bound and need a little bit of help financially to really achieve their dreams,” said Keys.

Essay 1600