Monday, November 30, 2009

7305: Dueling For Yucks.

MultiCultClassics must confess to routinely posting comments at other sites under different aliases. Below is one such example, where the identity B&S was adopted to mess with engage someone who took a different offense to the Adweek report on Procter & Gamble’s commitment to supplier diversity.

Pat Westphal
November 30, 2009

Q:) At what point do we become a band of one?

Q:) When do we reward on merit in lieu of mien?

Q:) How finely will that pie be parsed?

Q:) What about Blondes V. Redheads?

Q:) How come 80% of your staffers are below the age of 40, while 65% of your audience is over the age of 45? Who really understands whom? I can tell from your advertising (see the Brighten Bay debacle) that you don’t. Maybe this is what you’re out to remedy?

Q:) Do you practice what you preach, or are you only concerned with appearances?

I eagerly await your reply, but I ain’t holding my breath!


November 30, 2009

Pat Westphal,

Are your questions directed at P&G or the typical advertising agency — where diversity and cultural awareness/expertise are virtually invisible? Just curious.

Regarding reward on merit in lieu of mien, what are you implying here? Please consider the typical advertising agency again — where rewards are routinely distributed based on cronyism, nepotism, sexism and other assorted isms.

I eagerly await your reply, but I ain’t holding my breath — and I don’t expect to be surprised or impressed with anything you might offer. Cheers.


Pat Westphal
November 30, 2009

That’s great! I pose some questions, and you draw a series of prejudiced conclusions? Terrific! I could engage in some sophomoric repartee, instead let me see if I can answer, free of vitriol? My missive was directed towards P&G! Agencies are not social experiments, they are self-serving, greedy and myopic enterprises! More so today (to their detriment) than ever before! Mehri & Skalet have put the heat on agencies of late, my guess is that this is P&G’s response to their valiant (albeit self-serving) initiative? I know Bob McDonald, and he is an excellent human being! The larger question is where does this end? How many varied opinions and latitudes do you have to account for to be truly representative? When do we move beyond these specious concerns, and stand not as tribes but as individuals? Who will be the arbiter of that day? What circumstances/equations must be present so that we can finally evaluate one another based on the content of our character? I look forward to that day! It’s painfully obvious that we ain’t there yet!


November 30, 2009

Pat Westphal,

The answer to your larger question is: This will end when we can all say with a straight face that advertising agencies and advertisers truly are diverse enterprises free of discriminatory hiring practices. P&G has a long way to go. But advertising agencies have yet to seriously begin. That P&G saw fit to make these requests to their agencies speaks more about the agencies versus P&G, no? Sure, there may be some hypocrisy in P&G’s actions, but we’re not hearing any agency deny the need for change. The silent response says it all.


November 30, 2009

Pat Westphal,

One more thing: You admitted, “It’s painfully obvious that we ain’t there yet.” So why criticize P&G’s efforts? Let’s clean up our own houses first versus launching a list of dramatic questions. Stop asking why. Just do something about it. Cheers.

7304: Give This Campaign The Hook.

Pardon another bad scan, but does this campaign deserve anything besides bad scanning?

7303: All The Breast.

They probably settled for this headline after the client rejected Titillating Results and Boobilicious.

7302: The Diversity Elephant In The Room.

The current diversity-related conversations seem to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room: The Lack of Diversity on Madison Avenue.

Mickey D’s and Coca-Cola allegedly now recognize the influence of racial and ethnic cultures on our overall society (forget the fact that both brands have had minority advertising agencies informing them on such matters since at least the 1970s). The mega-clients even promise to increase the efforts targeting minority audiences and seed culture-based insights into everything they do. Yet there are zero indications that minority shops will receive greater billings—or be considered for AOR roles.

Kraft and Procter & Gamble push from another direction, gushing over the imperative for and benefits of embracing supplier diversity. However, the mega-clients do not question the diversity of its suppliers on Madison Avenue.

Draftfcb actually had the audacity to jump on the supplier diversity bandwagon. Critics were quick to point out that clients mandated many of the Draftfcb initiatives (is it a coincidence the Draftfcb Advertising Week extravaganza co-starred Kraft?). Also, Draftfcb has a pretty sorry track record when it comes to creating culturally clueless, insensitive and offensive advertising. Oops.

Missed in all the newfound excitement surrounding diversity is an honest inspection of the historic exclusivity at White advertising agencies.

Why are clients so reluctant to openly address the real problem? Don’t they realize the ridiculous nature of their recent perspectives and pontifications?

If the White agencies weren’t so damned White, would the revelation on cultural influences be necessary? Wouldn’t it already be common knowledge?

If the White agencies weren’t so damned White, would the request for supplier diversity be necessary? Wouldn’t it already be common practice?

If the White agencies weren’t so damned White, would the ANA and 4As drafting The Army be necessary? Wouldn’t it already be a volunteer militia?

It’s bad enough that everyone is ignoring the elephant in the room. It’s worse that clients are treating the beast like a White elephant.

7301: Overreaction Of The Week.

The New York Daily News published an Albino Animals photo series. Why do the White animals get all the attention?

7300: Biracial In A “Post-Racial” Society.

From The Chicago Tribune…

Being biracial in a mixed-up world

By Tamara Kerrill Field

Those of us born to a black parent and a white parent have the spotlight in Barack Obama’s America. Our president has openly discussed his biracialism in books and speeches, leading to a rich public discourse on what it means to be of mixed race in America. Popular culture is examining our struggles and rejections, our attempts to hopscotch the racial landscape, our unique take on loneliness.

But don’t get too excited, people. The tragic mulatto still has a pulse.

The woman who approached me was not someone I knew well in college. But, hey, this was the first black alumni reunion at the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus and we were all coming together in a new spirit, right? We exchanged pleasantries. I was holding my 9-month-old baby who, for all intents, looks as white as her dad. Did I have other children? I broke out the iPhone and proudly flashed photos of my 3-year-old son. He is on the other end of the family color spectrum, slightly darker than me.

“So, did your husband know you were black before you had your son?”

My body went hot from head to toe. I had come to the reunion to heal wounds; to talk to some of the black folks who kept me at arm’s length in our school days, to be my authentic self among them instead of the nervous loner perceived as an aloof, beige princess. Thus far, I had been pretty warmly welcomed. And now someone was asking me if I was passing for white; if I was outed—as early 20th century writers might put it—by “popping out a darkie”?

I’d like to say this was an extreme example, but it’s not. Like the interracial couple recently denied marriage by a white justice of the peace in Louisiana and the light sentencing of an Arkansas man for driving a white woman and her biracial kids out of their home with a burning cross, I’ve been shocked by the misunderstanding and pure racism of my fellow humans.

The events have stacked up: The white boss who, upon hearing I was invited to a lunch with the company’s minority affairs rep, quipped, “Oh come on, you’re not that black.” The black friend who came to dinner and on the way out referred to my husband as a “snow bunny.” (“Come on, you should understand,” she spat in disgust.) The myriad white people who, after learning of my black heritage, say, “Well, you can’t even tell!” And the endless legion of women who size up my brown against my daughter’s white and ask, “Is that your baby? Really?”

When it comes down to it, the proverbial straddling of the fence still stinks.

As President Obama lays out so elegantly in “Dreams from My Father,” biracial identity is still murky in the narrow world of racial credibility. Our chief executive’s biracialism is acknowledged, but he is known worldwide as the first black president of the United States—mainly because it’s true. It’s just not the whole truth.

Personally, I’m not that much closer to uncovering my racial truth than I was at Nichols Middle School, where I was warned by black girls that I’d better start “hanging around with (my) own kind.” I hated and worshiped those girls. I desperately wanted to be considered black enough to hang with them, but I didn’t want to give up my white friends to do it. So I formulated an unconscious survival plan: I, quite literally, jumped back and forth between races through the rest of grade and high school. This was a black year, this one was white. It wasn’t until college that I found black friends who really wanted me, and I was in love for four years. The herky-jerky course has continued.

The most wrenching moment came in the summer of 1983 when I was 14 and stuck in northeast Wisconsin at gymnastics camp. There was only one other kid there who might have been black. One night we were telling stories, and a counselor I admired wanted to talk about her hometown of New Orleans. She shone a flashlight on me and asked if I would mind if she referred to black people as “niggers” since that’s what she called “them” at home, the unspoken message being that she considered me almost white—a safe nigger. I wish I could say I exploded, that I made a complaint, that I demanded to go home. But I didn’t. I felt devastated and small and insignificant. Later that summer when I had a serious depression, I did not connect up the incidents. But I’m certain they were intertwined, along with a lot of shame and self-hatred.

I ask myself constantly, why can’t I find a better mix? I don’t have any great answers. All I can offer is that I feel the stratification of black and white on a near-daily basis. Some people settle in the middle-class cultural melange near the edges; I’ve been there too. But I’ve learned more from traveling into the guts of monoracial culture. It’s scarier there and rejection looms, but only there have I begun to identify the million tiny pieces of myself.

Many years ago at the University of Illinois, I borrowed my roommate’s T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “Black by Popular Demand”—a trendy slogan at that time. In my life to date, I have never gotten more attention than I did crisscrossing the quad that day, declaring black as my own. Gapes from students of all races told me I was making people uncomfortable. I wasn’t even sure I deserved to wear the shirt, but I held fast and I’m glad I did since it was one of the most authentic things I’ve ever done.

Tamara Kerrill Field is an Evanston-based communications consultant and writer.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

7299: Globalhue’s Jeep Bermuda Mess.

Jim Edwards at BNET continues to report on the controversy surrounding Globalhue and the Bermuda Tourism account. The latest drama involves the official censoring of a former Bermuda auditor general who criticized the advertising agency. Hey, it would be great if someone would censor the Globalhue Jeep campaign too.

Bermuda Politician Censored for Criticizing Globalhue, the Island's Tourism Ad Agency

By Jim Edwards

Bermuda’s government has struck from its official record remarks by a politician who criticized the island’s tourism ad agency, Globalhue, and its relationship with the Bermuda premier, Ewart Brown (pictured). The move sends a curious signal to Bermuda politicians: Criticize Globalhue — whose handling of the account has been described as “possible criminal activity” by a former Bermuda auditor general — and you’ll be censored.

Globalhue has been accused of overbilling Bermuda Tourism by $1.8 million and building in media placement commissions of up to 181 percent (industry standard is 10 percent or less). The account is worth $14 million a year.

The remarks were part of an opposition reply to the Bermuda government’s “throne speech” (which BNET guesses is the equivalent of the U.S. president’s State of the Union address). The Royal Gazette:

… part of the UBP’s Throne Speech reply … claimed that multi-million dollar contracts went to friends of the Government untendered with huge cost overruns and no-one held to account were ordered to be struck from the record of the House of Assembly.

… the UBP claimed that Global Hue, a US advertiser, renewed its Government contract in May which was valued at $28 million over two years. The UBP said the contract was not tendered and described its owner, Don Coleman [below], as a “longtime friend” of Premier Ewart Brown.

The United Bermuda Party posted the full speech on its web site, in addition to the following statement: (You’ll need to use the scroller to find them both.)

Last Friday, during the House of Assembly debate on the Speech from the Throne, Government MPs, with the active support of Deputy Speaker Dame Jennifer Smith, ordered the removal of a passage in the Opposition’s Reply to the Speech that they disagreed with.

The “offending” sentence, delivered by Opposition Leader Mr. Kim Swan earlier in the day, read as follows:

“We get million dollar contracts that go directly to friends untendered and massive cost overruns with no one held to account.”

Mr. Swan later described the removal of the sentence from the official record as an “act of censorship.”

“This has certainly not been the strongest language ever used in a Reply, nor is it the first time this particular concern has been made,” he said.

“Indeed, our last Throne Speech Reply questioned why tens of millions of dollars in Government contracts ‘have been handed over to an axis of two or three construction bosses close to the Premier?’”

The following summary of major Government projects and expenditures is, we believe, enough to substantiate the wording of the excised sentence and to reveal its removal as an act of censorship:

Global Hue
• The US advertiser received a renewal of its advertising contract with the government in May 2009, valued at $28 million over two years.

• The contract was not tendered.

• Global Hue is owned by Mr. Don Coleman, whom The Royal Gazette has described as a “longtime friend” of the Premier’s. In a February 2009 special report on Global Hue, the Auditor General substantiated that description when he reported the ‘pressure’ felt by Tourism officials to approve payments to Global Hue because of the “close relationship that Global Hue has, and influence it has, with the Minister of Tourism and Transport.”

• The contract renewal was made despite significant performance questions. Competitive bids might have offered greater efficiencies and better advertising plans.

7298: Ethnic Insight—White Corporations Are Liars.

Skim through this Advertising Age report and read the MultiCultClassics response following right behind it.

Brands Prepare for a More Diverse ‘General Market’
With Generational Shift Afoot, Ethnic Insights are Standard in Ad Efforts

By Emily Bryson York

With traditional marketers such as McDonald’s and State Farm embracing ethnic insights as an integral component of their general-marketing work, it may seem that “ethnic” is finally going mainstream.

But marketers shouldn’t expect to be hailed as civil-rights warriors. After all, outside of the industry, increasing consumerism isn’t exactly a noble pursuit. And ethnic agencies shouldn’t expect the dawn of a new era in which they’re given a seat at the agency-of-record table. Indeed, there are signs that as “general” comes to mean something other than “white,” spending will drop in ethnic niches—and research and ethnic findings will be handed over to traditional general-market agencies.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that as the ethnic makeup of the U.S. continues to shift, marketers in certain industries are preparing for a more diverse general market.

“I think industry-wide, as America becomes more multicultural, you will see more ethnic insights across the board,” said State Farm VP-Marketing Pam El. “I think you’re seeing it already, but I think you’ll see it two-, three, four-, five-fold going forward.”

One of the key drivers is a generational shift. Younger consumers seem to be blending faster than their older ethnic counterparts. Pepper Miller, an ethnic-marketing consultant, said more marketers are looking for “urban mindset” insights, which come from a blend of African-American and Latino cultures, from big cities. While African-American boomers may be put off by “urban” interests, the segment continues to enjoy aspirational status.

Ms. El said that State Farm has shifted its marketing based on the understanding that young people across ethnic groups may have more in common than older folks of the same race. That’s why State Farm uses Lebron James to communicate with the entire youth demographic, rather than relegating him to campaigns directed specifically at African-American youths. The insurer has also recently chosen animated spots from African-American agency Sanders Wingo for general-market communications.

McDonald’s has contemporized its brand over the past five to seven years with help from marketing that incorporates ethnic insights. The chain now does 40% of its U.S. business with ethnic minorities, and 50% of that group is 13 or younger. And so to build its U.S. advertising, McDonald’s constructs focus groups with disproportionate minority representation, giving equal weight to Hispanic, African-American, Asian and general markets whenever possible. Neil Golden, chief marketer of McDonald’s USA, said the result has been more-entertaining advertising that has helped drive the chain’s business well ahead of its competition. Part of the reason it’s working, Mr. Golden said, is that “consumers more and more are not only accepting, but embracing diversity and embracing it in lifestyle and in food.” He said the company has instituted a performance-evaluation model for all of its agencies, measuring how well each agency’s work “delivers against ethnic insights.”

Insights gleaned from ethnic research have the added benefit of offering a perspective that is a part of mainstream culture while also being separate from it. Robert Brooks, a consultant and former P&G marketer and longtime champion of Burrell Communications, explained, “African-American agencies had people who were in the minority of society who were always looking up—an 11% minority against 80% of the population—so they lived among us and observed us, so they were keen observers, which led to great consumer insights that led to great advertising ideas”

But it’s important for marketers to tread carefully—especially when it comes to executing these insights. One bone of contention is the issue of handing the research over to general-market agencies that have historically woeful records when it comes to their own diversity practices. Hadji Williams, an advertising and social-media consultant who has worked at both general market and ethnic agencies, said that this approach can be seen as disingenuous. It’s akin to saying, “We’re going to help general-market agencies with their deficiencies and then we’re still going to marginalize our ethnic agencies and keep them at the back of the bus. It doesn’t make good business sense.”

There’s also the risk of offending consumers by either playing on stereotypes, or appearing to be inserting actors of color and calling it culture. Ms. Miller noted that a number of marketers still spring for cheap laughs, casting Asians as martial artists, Hispanic women as loose, and black women as mean. Beyond issues of offensiveness, there are matters of cultural cluelessness. She recalled a Joe Boxer commercial with an African-American man bouncing around in a cutesy way. The spot was geared at women, who make a substantial portion of the men’s underwear purchases among whites. But the same isn’t true in the African-American market, in which men buy their own underwear.

Getting it right means finding imagery both appealing to the general market and believable to the segment in which it is based. Ms. Miller recalled a Tide commercial in which an African-American man, wearing a wedding ring, was drying his son off after a bath. It scored huge with African Americans, and was a hit in the general market as well.

It stands to reason that if ethnic agencies are the source of much of this research, they’d regularly be considered for—and win—agency-of-record status for major brands. But a quick look at most AOR reviews will disabuse anyone of that notion. “That’s something ethic agencies struggle with,” Mr. Williams said. “Black, Hispanic and Asian agencies may do great work, but you can never be an AOR.”

Mr. Brooks added that he has campaigned for ethnic agencies as AOR’s for decades, and never gotten a satisfactory answer as to why it wouldn’t be considered.

And another issue to consider: As ethnic insights trickle up into general-market work, marketers may cut back on some targeted spending—especially in a recession. Ruth Gaviria, VP-multicultural ventures, Meredith Corp., said that targeted spending, at least on Hispanic advertising, has fallen against general-market spend. In general, she said that ethnic work has been “a luxury.” But waiting on the sidelines is a luxury marketers can only afford for another year. “When the Census data is released and we have the come to Jesus meeting, then we all regroup,” Ms. Gaviria said. “We have a game-changing opportunity in 2011.”

(Contributing: Jack Neff)

As brands allegedly prepare for a more diverse ‘general market,’ they will need to start preparing answers for the inevitable questions surrounding their commitment to non-diverse ‘general market’ advertising agencies. After all, the questioners will likely include elected officials, civil rights attorneys and consumers.

7297: P&G Stands For Patronizing & Garbage.

Read this Adweek story quickly—then check out the brief MultiCultClassics perspective immediately following.

P&G Reaffirms Need for Supplier Diversity
E-mail to agencies reveals strategy deemed important way to connect with consumers

By Andrew McMains

Using diverse suppliers has been a key goal of major U.S. corporations for years, and a recent e-mail from Procter & Gamble, obtained exclusively by Adweek, shows that the company is now stepping up those efforts, especially in the realm of marketing.

“Tremendous opportunity remains” in marketing expenses, Stew Atkinson, P&G’s manager of global brand-building purchases, wrote to the company’s roster of agencies. P&G, he also wrote, is urging its shops to help the company meet its goal of spending 16 percent of its U.S. marketing dollars on minority- and women-owned suppliers in its current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

“Supplier diversity is a strategy that enables P&G to remain in touch with consumers, customers and suppliers who are becoming more diverse every day,” explained Atkinson in the e-mail.

The marketing goal represents an uptick from past years, according to P&G representative Barbara Hauser, who said that U.S. spending on all minority suppliers totaled about $2 billion in the last fiscal year.

P&G isn’t threatening to fire agencies that lag behind its goals, and agency performance in supplier diversity isn’t tied to compensation. Still, the world’s biggest spending advertiser does track each shop’s performance and “it’s an issue in the agency’s overall rating,” said an executive at a P&G shop. “They tell us how we’re doing quarterly.” An exec at another P&G agency added that company leaders “have ramped up their efforts on diversity [and are] very keen on it.”

Hauser characterized agency spending on diverse suppliers as “part of the total value offered as a partner. It’s part of our selection criteria. It has become a standard expectation and it’s part of doing business with P&G.”

Atkinson’s note followed a two-day summit between P&G and its agencies, which include Publicis Groupe units Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett and Publicis; WPP Group’s Grey; and independent Wieden + Kennedy. “We wanted agencies to understand some of the key priorities coming out of those meetings, particularly … our purpose-inspired growth strategy to touch and improve more consumers lives in more parts of the world,” explained Hauser.

Other companies focusing on diversity include Kraft Foods, which poured 6 percent of its total U.S. expenditures into minority- and women-owned businesses last year, up from 5 percent in 2007.

While P&G and others achieve a portion of their goals directly via the hiring of minority-owned agencies, they also rely considerably on general-market shops to help them when outsourcing specialty services, such as those related to the production of ads. Examples range from the hiring of casting companies and photo retouching firms to those that provide focus group research.

In pursuit of diversity at this level, Kraft is also “stepping up” efforts to “build second-tier programs for diverse suppliers,” said a Kraft rep. Directly and indirectly, Kraft used some 2,200 minority- and women-owned suppliers last year, and between 2000 and 2008 the company’s spending with minority-owned firms rose 88 percent, the rep said. This year, Kraft aims to match its 2008 performance of 6 percent of U.S. expenditures.

Yawn. It seems like only last week that MultiCultClassics was criticizing Procter & Gamble’s lame stance on diversity. Oh wait, it was only last week.

Is there a lazier and less sincere way to communicate the P&G commitment to inclusiveness than via email?

Can’t help but notice the 2-day summit didn’t appear to feature any minority shops. This may be largely because for the minority shops, supplier diversity is not a client request—it’s a fucking mandate. Minority shops are often prohibited from even considering non-minority suppliers. Add it to the list of ways corporations such as P&G treat minority advertising executives like, well, minorities.

P&G is totally bullshitting when it contends White agencies’ use of diverse suppliers is “part of the total value offered as a partner. It’s part of our selection criteria. It has become a standard expectation and it’s part of doing business with P&G.” Um, the advertiser questions its agencies on the diversity of suppliers, but ignores the diversity of agencies?

The P&G wonk wrote, “Supplier diversity is a strategy that enables P&G to remain in touch with consumers, customers and suppliers who are becoming more diverse every day.” Yet the advertiser continues to employ White agencies whose exclusivity is out of touch and way beyond cultural cluelessness.

Yo, Procter & Gamble, your advertising agencies are Whiter than any garment treated by Ultra-Strength Tide® with Bleach.

7296: G.I. Navajo.

From The Chicago Tribune…

Veterans wall honors American Indians’ military service

By Dan Simmons, Tribune reporter

In his youth, Joe Yazzie wanted to be an artist. But his mother knew he would be a warrior in the proud tradition of his Navajo forebears. He was named for G.I. Joe and was made to run and chop wood in his native New Mexico to keep fit and prepare for war.

“There will be another one,” his mother warned.

She was right. Yazzie was drafted shortly after high school and served a tour in 1964 as an Army machine gunner in Vietnam, joining his brother Harold, a Marine.

“It’s just in our blood,” he said. “We want to be warriors, and we tend to join the military.”

After the war, he moved to Chicago, raised a family and found success as an artist.

Now, in his retirement, he has fused the defining themes of his life as artist-in-residence at the recently opened Native American Wall of Honor at Trickster Gallery in Schaumburg. It’s the second memorial to American Indian veterans in the Midwest and will be on display until next spring.

The American Indian Center of Chicago operates Trickster, the only American Indian-operated arts institute in Illinois. On the wall are framed photos of men and women who wore the uniform in conflicts stretching from the Indian Wars to those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each was submitted by family members in the Chicago area and bears the veteran’s name, tribe and branch of service. Some wear pressed military suits or bomber jackets; a few are in helmet and fatigues, dog tags visible, clutching machine guns.

Veterans like Yazzie, 67, are still alive. But others on the wall, such as Army Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, a Hopi mother of two from Arizona, never came home. Piestewa was the first female soldier killed in Iraq.

Then there are those like Christopher Stumblingbear, a Chippewa-Lakota soldier from Chicago, who remain in harm’s way in Iraq.

Stumblingbear’s wife, Monica Boutwell, coordinated the exhibit along with Yazzie. They hope to expand it substantially and make it a permanent fixture.

“We’re just trying to honor some of the people who served this country,” Yazzie said. “We have every right to be remembered.”

American Indians have fought in every war since the American Revolution, said military historian Eleanor Hannah, who has her doctorate at the University of Chicago and specializes in Illinois National Guard history.

More than 190,000 of them served in the U.S. military during the 20th century, and they enlist at a rate three times higher than any other ethnic group, according to the U.S. Naval Historical Center.

Prominent on the wall is Yazzie’s family.

“Right here, this guy, he’s my grandfather,” he said, pointing to a framed photo of 37 Navajo scouts who served as military police alongside Army forces during the late-1800s campaign against Geronimo.

”And this guy here, that’s my uncle Frank,” he continued, pointing to another photo on the wall of Navajo “code talkers” who used their native language to transmit messages for the Allies in the Pacific during World War II. Congress passed the Code Talkers Recognition Act to honor them in 2002.

Many American Indian families have similar stories to tell, he said. But not all are willing to tell them. The wall at the Trickster attracted only about 40 photos, he said, partly due to a reluctance to talk about their service that runs particularly deep among American Indian veterans.

“They really don’t want to come forward for some reason,” Yazzie said.

Studies of American Indian vets from the Vietnam War era have revealed alarming rates of suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism and homelessness, particularly when they returned from war to remote reservations with little access to mental heath care.

One study of Vietnam-era American Indian vets found they were twice as likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as their white comrades, a reality some researchers attribute to their often deep identification with the indigenous populations they are sent to fight.

The research also revealed that Native American troops were often more likely to be assigned risky combat roles, another reason for their high PTSD rates.

In many tribes, veterans are granted feathered warrior costumes by medicine men and given the right to lead the procession into powwows. But throughout history there also has been an undercurrent of dissent against veterans among some American Indians, said Hannah, the military historian.

“There are plenty who refused to serve and been critical of anyone who joins,” she said. “There are definitely still those who hold that view.”

The backlash is understandable, she said, among a people who have long fought against the same armed forces they now fight among.

Bill Smith, a Chicago police detective with the gang crimes unit, is Lakota and an Army veteran who fought in Vietnam, Grenada and Panama.

His photo hangs on the wall beside that of his brother-in-law, Albert Wayne Morgan, a Cherokee who served in Vietnam as an airman. Smith noted that military service follows naturally from the warrior ethic.

“We hold warriors in high esteem,” he said. “They’re the protectors, the example setters, for everyone else.”

Yazzie said he returned from Vietnam intact physically but haunted by the deaths of comrades and frustrated by fellow Americans. Others who returned before him warned him not to wear his uniform for fear of being spit on and called “baby killer.” He moved to Chicago, where he had hoped to attend art school. But he said he lapsed into alcoholism.

“There was just no stopping it,” he said. “I was dependent on it.”

Yazzie credits his wife, Lillian, for helping him sober up in the late 1970s and find success as a commercial artist for Montgomery Ward in Chicago.

“She saved my life,” he said, touching the dog tags and silver cross that hang from his neck. “Without her I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you.”

When he retired, he took up painting, the original reason for his move to Chicago. His paintings feature icons of Indian life and military culture, both celebrating and questioning the intersection.

In one painting on display at Trickster, a woman sports the long black hair and elegant jewels of a Navajo and is wrapped in an American flag. She looks, weeping, at a section of a veterans memorial wall inscribed with names of dozens of fallen soldiers. They include Yazzie’s veteran relatives and James L. Kramer, a comrade from Las Vegas. Kramer went through boot camp with Yazzie and fought alongside him in Vietnam.

“We talked about hot dogs and hamburgers and ice cream,” Yazzie said, “all these things we missed about home that we would do together once we got back.”

Kramer was killed in action when ambushed on a patrol along the Cambodian border. Yazzie never got to say goodbye. He dedicated the painting to Kramer and said he hopes to find his family and give it to them.

“They could have been doctors or lawyers,” he said, pointing to the names of the fallen. “They could have discovered things to improve our lives. But they sacrificed. Ever since, I’ve had this guilty feeling. Why them and not me?”

7295: A Couple Of Couple Notes.

Couple counseling with a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Hate to say it, but before this is all over, Mr. and Mrs. Tiger Woods will probably make Chris Brown and Rihanna look like pillow fighters.

• It’s no surprise that the infamous State Dinner crasher couple are now accepting bids for televised interviews. This is definitely an example of “a coarsening of the culture” President Obama has repeatedly addressed.

7294: Precious Polarization.

From The Chicago Tribune…

‘Precious’ divides among black viewers

By Erin Aubry Kaplan
Special to Tribune Newspapers

Long before it opened, “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” had racked up the plaudits for its groundbreaking depiction of the inner life of an overweight, ghetto-dwelling black teenage girl. But since the film’s release, a story-outside-the-story has developed that’s equally fresh and complicated: black people’s reaction to the movie and what it means.

Verdicts about high-pitched movies from black viewers and public figures are usually swift and decisive—“Do the Right Thing,” “The Color Purple” and the recent Robert Downey Jr. vehicle “Tropic Thunder” come to mind. But that hasn’t happened this time. That’s partly because the embrace of “Precious” by the white film establishment has been a bit disorienting for black folk, even off-putting. But it’s also because the tough stuff in “Precious,” regardless of whether you like the movie, is striking chords of recognition for many black people that are making them not angry or enthusiastic but uncertain. That’s new territory.

The many issues raised in the course of this one story—class tensions, self-image, racial progress, how Hollywood bears on all of the above—have hit black viewers squarely in the gut, rendering the usual arguments about stereotypes inadequate.

Not everybody is buying into the nuance. The unrelenting inner-city misery that frames “Precious,” including a foul-mouthed welfare mother and an absentee father, has raised plenty of alarms among blacks, notably film critic Armond White. In his review for the New York Press, the famously curmudgeonly White excoriated “Precious” for being an “orgy of prurience,” “a Klansman’s fantasy,” racist propaganda cast from the infamous mold of “Birth of a Nation.” For White, “Precious” is bad art because it is a bad representation, a reminder that for black people, art and politics are inseparable.

“We just don’t want to see black pathology onscreen,” says T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, a professor of critical race studies and hip-hop at Vanderbilt University. “There’s clearly a segment of us that worries about what white people think.”

That worry, she says, is usually about representations of the black poor, a group that’s long been an anathema to whites—and to some blacks as well.

Richard Yarborough, an associate professor of English and African-American Studies at UCLA, says the movie can be difficult to watch because, “The abject degradation of black people in ‘Precious’ is as close as you can get to a modern film that may be similar to a film about slavery.” He points out that slave-era films like “Beloved” and “ Amistad” didn’t do well at the box office, and those were mainstream movies with big budgets and established directors. Those movies also presented widespread black exploitation and oppression as phenomena of the past.

“If people aren’t going to see slavery in a historical context, why would they go see a movie about slavery in a modern context?” Yarborough says. Still, “Precious” grossed an impressive $11 million on 629 screens last weekend.

But an enduring truth about the movie business is that even a widely acclaimed black movie made by blacks doesn’t guarantee that another one will be made.

“What Spike Lee was doing in the ‘80s was more challenging and visionary” than “Precious,” says Todd Boyd, a professor of critical studies at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. “He’s still working. … But nobody talks about Spike anymore. With features, it’s about the money vehicles now, like what Tyler Perry is doing. The days of the small ‘impact’ film are over.”

7293: Bounty Billboards.

From The Chicago Sun-Times…

Radical idea on target in the fight for justice

It may be sad. It may be distasteful. It may be extreme.

But it is still worth doing.

Last week, 20 billboards went up across the South and West Sides offering $5,000 rewards for information leading to the conviction of criminals who have shot or killed “our children.”

“Shoot or kill our children?” the billboard boldly asks. “You will be caught!”

Chicagoans are urged to call in anonymously with tips.

The billboards are the handiwork of the outspoken priest of the Faith Community of St. Sabina, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, and his supporters.

Count us as one of them.

After three decades of community activism, Pfleger knows that Chicagoans—fearful of retribution, of the police, of being labeled a “snitch”—don’t regularly report what they know about shootings in their neighborhoods.

If the violence is ever going to slow, this must change.
“It should not be acceptable that someone shoot or kill a child and then go to McDonald’s or go home and watch TV,” Pfleger told us.

“I don’t think shooters are afraid of the police, but I think they have to be afraid of the community,” he said.

The billboards went up Wednesday in neighborhoods where students have been killed.

That day, the phone at Pfleger’s Auburn Gresham church office began ringing.

It was just a handful of calls, but it was a start.

“If we can turn the tide a little and it starts to become acceptable [to report], it’ll be a ripple affect,” he said. “Now it’s a ripple effect not to do anything.”

Building a network of people who speak up helps Chicago neighborhoods and the victims’ families, most of whom never see anyone brought to justice.
Already this school year, 78 students have been shot and 12 have died.

Pfleger knows as well as anyone that the billboards should be just one piece of a multi-layered solution to quelling violence. And like the rest of us, he wishes Chicagoans would step up just because it’s the right thing to do.

“Yes, people should just do right to do right,” Pfleger said.

“But the reality is we have a culture of disconnectedness, of fear, so we have to take radical means to try to create the turnaround of responsibility and connectedness,” he said.

If you know anything, if you want to do more than bemoan the violence, Father Pfleger is waiting for your call: (773) 483-4300.

7292: Secret Service Ignorance Is No Secret.

What’s up with the Secret Service? The news of the moron couple that crashed the State Dinner last Tuesday gets worse every day, with the latest revelation showing the dummy duo literally made contact with President Obama. How does this shit happen? Aren’t these security guys trained to shoot first and ask questions later when even the hint of a threat erupts? And before anyone thinks this is a case of the Black President receiving inferior service from the secret agents, MultiCultClassics had a similar reaction after President Bush had to dodge two shoes in Iraq. Maybe the Secret Service needs to dial up their recruitment standards.

7291: Seeking Jack-Of-All-Digital-Trades.

This actual job listing appears to display the employment fuzziness in the digital space. First, the title will demand a gigantic business card. Our industry continues to insist on single-focused message strategies, yet our job descriptions resemble the worst briefs imaginable. And what’s with listing the agencies? BTW, Avenue A is no longer attached to Razorfish (always nice to see recruiters are also clueless about digital). Lumping R/GA into the same league with the other lame shops is mighty peculiar too. Or maybe not. Only one thing is certain: The candidate who fills the position will be expected to execute the functions of multiple people for a single, low salary.

Creative Director, Content Delivery, Digital Strategist, UX, UI, Web content

Job Description
Digital Strategist – Creative Director – Content Delivery – Web strategist – UX – UI

Do you have 7+ years of experience in a digital strategy role with a strong creative background at a digital agency such as Digitas, AvenueA/Razorfish, R/GA, Publicis or imc2?

If so… read on!

This is an exceptional opportunity to join a profitable, growing company on the verge of launching the next best thing to hit the digital world!

What you need for this position:

• 7+ years in a creative role, preferably as a Creative Director, Digital Strategist, or Group Strategist position
• Extensive experience working on digital campaigns with an emphasis on content delivery
• Strong understanding of UI/UX principles
• Prior supervisory role of various teams (programmers, designers, artists, etc.)
• Strong client-facing experience
• Integral in launching big name clients and campaigns — something everyone would recognize
• If you’ve run your own agency, we definitely need to talk!

What you will doing:

• Lead and manage the entire digital content from conception, design and launch
• Manage various design teams throughout the process
• Work directly with clients on a daily basis

So, if you have 7+ years of experience in a digital strategy role with a strong creative background at a digital agency such as Digitas, AvenueA/Razorfish, R/GA, Publicis or imc2… apply now!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

7290: Skating Past The Details.

Memo to Orbit Skate Center: If you really wanted to hype skating parties, it might have helped to depict the illustrated partygoers wearing skates.

Friday, November 27, 2009

7289: The Value Of Self-Respect? Twenty Bucks.

This actual craigslist ad seeks writers willing to share their bedwetting adventures—for about the price of a pack of Depend@ undergarments.

Articles needed: Bedwetter?

Date: 2009-11-27, 12:21PM CST
Reply to:

Online magazine is seeking TRUE bedwetting stories from teens and adults about bedwetting issues past and present. Especially interested in how you manage wetting issues and how it affects your life. $20 if article is accepted for publishing. Most well-written articles are accepted. Longer articles (2+ single-spaced pages can earn an additional $5 per page)

7288: Chipmunkz N The Hood.

Were these versions intended to target general audiences and urban audiences? Plus, should a chipmunk wigger be called a chigger?

7287: Thank God It’s Black Friday.

Ripping off the news in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Tyler Perry is being sued for allegedly ripping off gospel tune lyrics for his film, Madea Goes To Jail. It will be ironic if Madea does indeed go to jail.

• Ford Motor Company must pay $55 million to an Illinois inventor for ripping off his concept for a sideview mirror light. The legal battle has been going on for 11 years. Maybe now Ford will reconsider its decision to decline bailout loot.

7286: Graffiti In The Bronx.

The New York Daily News presents Brooklyn photographer’s Kel Condon images of the eclectic graffiti at The Point Cultural Center in the Bronx and the surrounding neighborhood.

7285: Happy Black Friday.

If a Black advertising agency produced a Black Friday ad…

Thursday, November 26, 2009

7284: Alaska Schools Not Making The Grade.

From The New York Times…

Alaska’s Rural Schools Fight Off Extinction

By William Yardley

NIKOLSKI, Alaska — This distant dot in the Aleutian Islands needed just 10 students for its school to dodge a fatal cut from the state budget. It reached across Alaska and beyond but could find only nine.

Built by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1939, the little Nikolski School will not be the last in Alaska to close. Four others have closed this fall and at least 30 more are at risk because of dwindling enrollment; one school in remote southeast Alaska survived only by advertising on Craigslist for families with school-aged children.
“We lose one or two every year,” said Eddy Jeans, the director of school finance for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

As Alaska celebrates its 50th anniversary of statehood amid new political prominence and urban aspirations, it is confronting a legacy of loss in rural communities that are unlike any others in the United States.

Some of these communities, like Nikolski, are linked to the earliest human settlements in North America, yet are now buckling beneath the accumulated conflict of old versus new. Alaska Natives are increasingly leaving villages for cities. Young women, in particular, have departed, and birth rates, once disproportionately higher in villages, have dropped. Jobs for the young people who remain are declining. Village elders have fewer peers who share their dialects. Heating fuel, gasoline and groceries can be expensive and medical services minimal.

The annual statewide student counting period, completed last month, is a census of the exodus. After several decades of growth, the overall rural population has declined about 4 percent since 2000 and much more in many regions. In the Aleutians, the population is down 19 percent, to about 4,500. About 20 percent of Alaska’s 680,000 people live in rural areas.

Rural school districts, desperate to make the cut, are known to move students between schools to prop up enrollment during the counting period, while some have sought out families willing to relocate from other states.

“We were desperate,” said Gordon Chew, whose wife runs the school in Tenakee Springs, where two families with a total of six children relocated earlier this year in response to an advertisement on Craigslist. “That saved us.” The decline of rural schools is at the heart of a broader debate in Alaska over the treatment of native communities, which dominate the state’s rural population.

Here in the Aleutians, native Unangans, or Aleuts, are linked to people who traveled the Bering land bridge from Asia more than 10,000 years ago. They survived off the sea, making skiffs from seal skin and building houses from sod for shelter against the endless ocean gales. They endured violence and religious conversion by Russian explorers and, during World War II, forced evacuation by the American military.
Now they face budget cuts and the pressures of modern Alaska.

“If you put it in the calculus we use today to determine public policy, places like Nikolski probably have a difficult time measuring up,” said Byron Mallott, a Tlingit leader who has advised several Alaska governors on native issues. “But look at Nikolski in the context of Alaska, look at it in the context of America. These are the native homelands, and we ought to recognize that and not forget that.”

Read the full story here.

7283: Lincoln Stephens Gives Thanks.

Happy belated birthday to Lincoln Stephens and his brainchild, The Marcus Graham Project. Both appear to be moving forward with great momentum, as evidenced by the following message:

A message to all members of The Marcus Graham Project

Exactly one year ago today, November 25 (ironically my birthday), I jumped on a plane to head back to Dallas to get MGP up and running. Man, what a year that it has been. We have been able to launch our pilot program and lab with little resources but great faith. And now, as we proudly announce The Marcus Graham Project as an official Texas-non profit organization, we also are equally proud to announce to you, our supporters and members, our website. On the site, located at you will be able to fully grasp the vision of what we intend for The Marcus Graham Project and our programs. You will also be able to see our strong team of advisory board members who will be instrumental in ensuring that this vision is equipped with the proper provision to successfully run our programs. However the responsibility for securing this provision doesn’t rely solely on their shoulders. It is all of our duty to ensure that we continue to support each other and progress our industry and society forward. The Marcus Graham Project is about all of us, not an individual or a character in a film. It is about seeing a need to make a difference and just making the difference, not talking about it. We all have ownership in this initiative and its success really falls on all of us.

There have been so many that have already contributed their time to bring MGP to fruition, and as we are preparing to give thanks with our family and friends, I wanted to be sure and take out the time to say thank you to those individuals.

I first want to thank my parents Calvin and Sandra Stephens for giving me a place to call home. Thanks for the support, both spiritually & fiscally to bring this dream to life.

Next I want to thank the individuals that I consider to be the founders of this movement. These gentlemen have been there since day one helping me to think about what MGP could and should be. Special Thanks to Benny Walk, Brandon Byrd, Courtney Hill, George Peters, Jamil Buie, Jeffrey Tate, John Casmon, Jon Goff, Kenji Summers, Larry Hancock, Larry Yarrell, Malcolm Gillian, Mike Tresvant, Ralph Lee, Richard Harvey, Rudy Duthil, Wil Murphy and Will Davison.

Next I want to thank the brave & uber talented gentlemen that participated in our pilot program this summer. Without your sacrifice we truly would not be able to call this a true program. Special thanks to you gents:

Wes Medlock
Tre Ford
Quinton Wash
Dominick Shelton
Phred Brown
Gbenga Obafemi

Next to the ladies in MGP, soon to be The Jacqueline Factor, thank you for the consistent encouragement and forward thinking. Your brothers appreciate your support: Carol Watson, Carol Wyatt, Cheeraz Gorman, Tanya Ward, Tiffany R. Warren, Tiffany Griffin, Nicole Oliver, Adora Andy and Morgan Owens

Lastly, I want to thank the agencies, corporations and organizations that have opened up their doors to our program and truly embraced the spirit in which we are moving. I truly look forward to working with all of you again next year.

The Design Factory
Culture Lab Creative
The Mastermind Group
The Richards Group
The Marketing Arm
The City of Dallas
Broccoli City
South Side on Lamar
Newflower Markets
Veev Spirits
Project 7
Rockstar Fitness
Dallas Designing Dreams
Texas Caribbean Foods

Happy Thanksgiving,

Lincoln C. Stephens

7282: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.

Holiday appetizers in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Did anyone else think—upon learning of the Virginia couple who crashed President Obama’s state dinner on Tuesday—that there would have been a much different reaction had the two been minorities?

• The offensive image of First Lady Michelle Obama has been removed from its original source, a blog called Hot Girls. Google added a text ad above the image titled “Offensive Search Results” that stated “Sometimes our search results can be offensive. We agree.” Look for Bing® to capitalize on the mess.

7281: No Hate For Hate Crimes…?


Hate Crimes Spike: Religion, Race, Sexual Orientation Are Main Targets

By David Gibson

Conservative religious leaders were some of the sharpest opponents of the federal legislation passed in October that expanded federal hate crimes law to include protections for homosexuals.

But during the debate, none of them raised the idea of revoking the existing protections for religious victims under the law. And it seems unlikely that even those few religious leaders who think hate crimes laws are unnecessary would want to raise the subject now in light of new statistics showing attacks based on the religion of the victim rose nearly 9 percent in 2008 over the previous year. That is the highest jump across all major categories, according to FBI hate crime statistics released Monday.

Following close behind religiously motivated hate crimes were racially motivated attacks against African-American targets, which rose more that 8 percent in 2008 -- the year that saw the first African-American in history secure a major party nomination, and then win the general election to become the first black president. The rise in anti-black crimes—from 2,658 in 2007 to 2,876 in 2008—contrasts with a decline in attacks against whites, from 749 in 2007 down to 716 in 2008.

As has been the case for several years, racially motivated attacks account for about half of all bias crimes (51.3 percent) and religiously motivated attacks were next at 19.5 percent, followed by crimes linked to sexual orientation, at 16.7 percent of all attacks. The FBI said 11.5 percent of hate crimes (894) were motivated by ethnicity or national origin, with about two-thirds of those against Hispanic targets. That overall number was down significantly from 2007, when 1,007 such crimes were investigated.

Overall, hate crimes rose to their highest levels since 2001, when a spike in anti-Islamic incidents following the 9/11 attacks pushed the annual total over 9,000. For 2008, the total number of bias crimes was 7,783, a two percent rise from 2007. Most offenses (5,542) were classified as crimes against persons; acts of “intimidation,” such as harassment, accounted for 48.8 percent of crimes against persons, simple assaults for 32.1 percent, and aggravated assaults for 18.5 percent. There were seven murders. The rest of the incidents were classified as “offenses against property,” such as arson and vandalism.

The number of incidents based on sexual orientation increased slightly in 2008, but the number of lesbian, gay or transgender victims (each incident can have more than one victim) rose by 11 percent, the third consecutive year that figure has risen.

”We have to prosecute each hate crime to the fullest extent of the law, but we also need to get at the roots,” said Joe Solmonese, head of Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights advocacy group. “When we don’t know each other as human beings, ignorance breeds misunderstanding, which breeds hate, which too often this year led to violence. We have to keep fighting the prejudices and stereotypes that underlie these acts.”

The breakdown in religiously motivated crimes shows several interesting trends—though the consistent reality is that Jews and Jewish institutions continue to account for two-thirds of religiously motivated attacks, even though Jews account for less than 2 percent of the U.S. population.

”Hate violence in America is a serious national problem that shows little sign of slowing,” Robert G. Sugarman, national chair of the Anti-Defamation league, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, said in a joint statement. “While the increase in the number of hate crimes may be partially attributed to improved reporting, the fact that these numbers remain elevated—particularly the significant rise in the number of victims selected on the basis of religion or sexual orientation—should be of concern to every American.”

Interestingly, incidents classified as “anti-Islamic” dropped slightly, from 115 in 2007 to 105 in 2008. That is down from nearly 600 attacks in 2001, the bulk of those in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

But bias crimes against the general category of “other religions” jumped last year from 130 to 191. Those other religions would include Sikhs and Hindus, for example, groups that are becoming increasingly prominent in American society.

Crimes against Catholics or Catholic targets also jumped, from 61 to 75 in 2008. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, told USA Today the increase could be tied to the church’s increasingly vocal role in debates on issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

”Unfortunately it spills over into violence,” Donohue said, adding that he thinks it’s going to get worse. “I’ve never seen our country so culturally divided and so polarized … These issues are not going away.”

The number and breadth of incidents could rise after next year since the hate crimes law that President Obama signed last month—the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act—requires local authorities to track bias crimes more closely and provides federal resources to investigate those crimes.

In the 2008 survey, more law enforcement agencies than ever (13,690) provided data, but just 15 percent of them reported a bias crime and nearly 85 percent reported no hate crimes in their jurisdictions. More than 4,000 agencies did not participate, though that number is likely to decline in the wake of the new federal law requiring greater compliance.

7280: ANA MCM BS.

While scanning through past posts, MultiCultClassics discovered more evidence that the ANA is full of shit in regards to multicultural marketing and even diversity. At the 2009 Masters of Marketing conference held earlier this month, Bob Liodice polled ANA members and learned the majority had never engaged multicultural specialists. This revelation is no surprise. However, almost exactly one year ago, the ANA released a report about multicultural marketing. Of the executives surveyed in the report, 77 percent claimed to have multicultural marketing initiatives, with 66 percent indicating their company’s efforts have increased over the past few years. Who’s zooming who? Either the 2008 survey participants were liars or not an accurate representation of ANA members—or both.

Here’s what Liodice proclaimed in 2008:

“A focused multicultural marketing strategy is vital to building brands and driving business growth,” said Bob Liodice, President and CEO of the ANA. “Our research shows that multicultural marketing programs are growing and will continue to do so in the future. However, marketers are frustrated and concerned about program quality, with less than half expressing satisfaction with their firms’ efforts to date. There is substantial upside opportunity that can be tapped with the right investment strategies and with well-structured integrated marketing and accountability programs.”

Given his 2009 polling figures, Liodice has obviously failed to persuade his compatriots to fully embrace the cause and make progress. One can only wonder about his ability to recruit for The Army.

7279: Thanksgiving Revisionist History.

Given what we know now, one can’t help but wonder what really happened between the Pilgrims and Native Americans at the first Thanksgiving celebration.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

7278: Pre-Holiday Cheers And Jeers.

Offensive maneuvers in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…

• Italian-American group UNICO National has called for MTV to dump a promo for the upcoming Jersey Shore, arguing the show perpetuates stereotypes by referring to cast members as “Guidos.” An MTV official countered the characters are merely taking “pride in their ethnicity.” In other words, UNICO National should fugeddaboutit.

• A deal to buy the Saab brand from General Motors has fallen through at the last minute, prompting the automaker to say it will likely shut down the division. Or maybe GM can pull together an awesome Black Friday deal.

• Google apologized for displaying a racially offensive photo of Michelle Obama in search results for the First Lady, but refused to remove the image. However, an image of the Google logo will likely appear in future search results for “racist corporations.”

7277: The Specter Of Racism.

From The Chicago Tribune…

Race haunts politics
Will it ever be OK to go there without name-calling?

By Clarence Page

He takes it back. In a recent interview Attorney General Eric Holder conceded that, if he had it to do over again, he might have chosen another less incendiary word than “cowards” in his now-notorious Black History Month speech to describe the way Americans tend to avoid candid talk about race.

I wasn’t surprised. Public backlash over his use of the C-word gave him a fast lesson in why so many of us Americans have become too cowardly to talk candidly about race. We’re afraid of being called “politically incorrect” or outright “racist.”

Yet, we can’t shrug off the baggage of history that easily. Questions about race keep coming up, since race continues to be a subtext of our politics like little land mines of “gotcha” moments—like the one on which Holder stepped.

You can hear it in the question that haunts the mostly white makeup of populist conservatives in the anti-tax tea party rallies, the August town hall protests and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s book signings: How much does race have to do with it?

A racial streak always has haunted populist politics. But in most of today’s uprising by populist conservatives, race is only a marker, if a highly visible one, for other differences that have defined American politics since at least the 1960s.

If there was ever a time we should be talking candidly about race it is now. Yet, it is considered bad manners at best or even racist at worst to ask how much of today’s protests of President Barack Obama’s policies might be motivated by race. People are touchy for at least three good reasons: One, race is so hard to quantify; two, the protests are more ideological than racial; and three, most Americans have little tolerance for outright bigotry anymore.

Polls offer limited help. Obama’s approval ratings have fallen in the November polls by Gallup and Public Policy Polling while Palin’s have risen. At this rate, they might even meet somewhere in the high 40s, a Drudge Report headline trumpets.

But what’s race got to do with that? Much of Obama’s fall results from recent bad news on the employment and Afghanistan fronts and much of Palin’s rise results from her highly touted book tour. Still, since almost all of Obama’s decline has come from white voters, while his numbers among blacks and Hispanics have stayed virtually the same, many still ask how much the difference results from the issue of race.

In some cases, the nuances as to what’s racist or what isn’t draw distinctions without much of a significant difference. Take, for example, the anti-Obama billboard that auto dealer Phil Wolf erected recently in Wheat Ridge, Colo. In big letters it says, “BIRTH CERTIFICATE” and “PROVE IT,” a reference to the goofy movement that questions Obama’s natural-born citizenship despite overwhelming evidence. It also features two cartoonish images of Obama wearing a turban and reads “President or Jihad?” and “Wake Up America! Remember Ft. Hood.”

In interviews Wolf has said he’s convinced Obama is a secret Muslim, a view that Pew Research Center polls have shown about 11 percent of the population shares. Would they feel that way about a white president with Obama’s background? Frankly, it’s not hard to imagine, considering the paranoid streak in American politics that has nurtured worse myths about previous presidents.

Maybe that’s what my friend and MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews was thinking when he blurted out during coverage of the 1,500 people waiting for Palin at a Grand Rapids, Mich., bookstore that “they look like a white crowd to me” and “not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it is pretty monochromatic up there” and “I think there is a tribal aspect to this thing, in other words, white versus other people.”

Conservative bloggers took umbrage at that, for all the understandable reasons of racial ambiguity that I listed above. You’re not a racist just because everybody around you happens to be of the same race as you. Yet, as political demographics take shape, there is a tribal aspect to politics. Birds of a feather flock together, social scientists tell us, and so do people.

Today’s American tribes gather for reasons of shared values, interests and attitudes more than race or other shared ancestry. Yet, our ancestral differences play a big role in shaping our present-day attitudes. That’s why we need to talk more openly and candidly about race, if we can only find the right language to do it.