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

By Marilyn Kern-Foxworth | Go to book overview

Chapter 5 INVISIBLE CONSUMERS: GAINING EQUAL REPRESENTATION FOR BLACKS IN ADVERTISING

I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids -- and I might even be said to possess a mind. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination -- indeed, everything and anything except me.

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, 1952

In Ralph Ellison's much acclaimed, Invisible Man, the character, a black male known as the "Invisible Man," comes across a piece of "early African- American Americana" -- a "jolly nigger bank" -- and sees this grotesque caricature with its coal black skin, ruby red lips, and milky white eyes staring up at him from the floor. He holds much contempt for the object and even more for his landlady for keeping such an image around. The "Invisible Man" breaks the bank into small pieces and attempts to dispose of it in his neighbor's trash can, but is circumvented from doing so by his neighbor. He then tries to leave the pieces very casually along the street, but a good samaritan returns the bundle to him. In the end, he is unable to discard the broken bank and resorts to carrying the pieces with him into his underground hiding place.

The "Invisible Man's" attempt to rid himself of this nuisance is symbolic of the attempt of Negroes, Blacks, Afro-Americans, and African-Americans

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • References xxi
  • Chapter 1 - Slave Advertisements: A Mirror to the "Peculiar Institution" 1
  • Notes 25
  • References 26
  • Chapter 2 - Memories of the Way We Were: Blacks in Early Print and Electronic Advertising 29
  • Notes 41
  • References 41
  • Chapter 3 - Myths, Lies, and Stereotypes: Black Advertising Symbols, Characters, and Models 43
  • References 58
  • Chapter 4 - Aunt Jemia: The Most Battered` Woman in America Rises to the Top 61
  • Appendix: Chronology of Important Dates in the History of Aunt Jemima 107
  • Notes 108
  • References 109
  • Chapter 5 Invisible Consumers: Gaining Equal Representation for Blacks in Advertising 115
  • Notes 127
  • References 127
  • Chapter 6 - Separate and Definitely Not Equal: Frequency of Blacks in Advertising 131
  • Notes 146
  • References 146
  • Chapter 7 - Blacks in Advertising: Critics Give Two Thumbs Up 149
  • Notes 163
  • References 164
  • Chapter 8 - Epilogue: Colorizing Advertising: a 21st-Century Challenge 167
  • Notes 172
  • References 172
  • Appendix: African-American Museums and Resource Centers 175
  • Selected Bibliography 183
  • Index 191
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