Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and Rastus: Blacks in Advertising, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

By Marilyn Kern-Foxworth | Go to book overview
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Chapter 6
SEPARATE AND DEFINITELY NOT EQUAL: FREQUENCY OF BLACKS IN ADVERTISING

Someone hands you a picture of your high-school class. The first thing you do is look for yourself. Then you look for your friends to see how you look compared to them. Then you settle back and enjoy the picture as a whole. If you missed school that day and you're not in the picture, you'd feel bad. But if someone arbitrarily cropped you out, you'd probably be angry. That's how many blacks feel about much of the advertising presented about them.

Caroline Jones, President Caroline Jones Agency

During the 1960s blacks fought for more than integration in housing, education, and employment. Recognizing the power of advertising to influence race relations and to ameliorate the perceptions that blacks held of themselves, they also fought for integrated advertising -- "any advertising message using black and white models together or black models alone in a medium directed at a mass audience" ( Foote, Cone, and Belding, 1970).

Advertising, operating as the economic support of the mass media, has been a pervasive part of the way we live since the first newspaper advertisement appeared in Germany in 1525, the first American magazine advertisement, for a ferry, appeared in Benjamin Franklin General Magazine on May 10, 1741 ( Rankin, 1980, p. 8), and since the first television commercial aired, for the Bulova Watch Company on WNBT in New York, in 1941 ( Gardner, 1983, p. 14). Over the years researchers, historians, sociologists, and psychologists have determined that advertising

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