Racism with certain generations. Certain stereotypes have
Racism in AdvertisingWhite on Black, by Jan Nedeneen Pieterse, shared with her audience very visual images of how western Europeans and Americans depicted black people by using advertisements and propaganda. The prejudice against African Americans is shown to the reader by cartoons, poetry and racist images. These images ranged from Barbie dolls to condiment labels. Advertisers basically used popular media to allow consumers to develop their stereotypes unconsciously. It seems as though some of these stereotypical advertisements still exist to this day. A box of Cream of Wheat found on the shelves of a grocery store still looks the same as it did 30 years ago.
There is a black chef holding up a bowl of oats. What is the target audience for advertisements like this? Why hasn’t this image been changed? According to Pieterse, “The legacy of several hundred years of western expansion and hegemony, manifested in racism and exoticism, continues to be recycled in western cultures in the form of stereotypical images of non-western cultures,” (Pieterse 9). Basically she is saying that the majority of our society has been white for a long time. Images have become so common in our everyday lives that people just don’t even think of changing certain advertisements because these specific advertisements have grown up with certain generations. Certain stereotypes have also become household words or phrases. Some of these advertisements did change over time, but some are still as offensive as they were over 30 years ago. Western views were dominant in the times of colonialism, “Europeans constructed images of Africa and blacks on the basis of selective perception, expedience, second-hand information, mingled with reconstructed biblical notions and medieval folklore, along with popular or scientific’ ideas that were current at the time,” (Pieterse 10).
Of course since the western population and thought was the majority at the time these ideals were based on what the, “whites,” believed. Therefore the target audiences of these perceptions were the whites themselves. Images that were used in advertising were at the time familiar to the white population and related to the images that they had in their culture. Advertising is a form of communication. These stereotypical advertisements communicated to the white majority something in which they were familiar with. “The targets of stereotyping are maneuvered into certain roles, so that a vicious circle develops, in which social reality seems to endorse the stereotype,” (Pieterse 11). An example of an image targeted at a certain audience is that of Aunt Jemima.
The target audience for this image is that of middle class white families. Why? Well, Aunt Jemima is a stereotypical nanny-type slave. “A plump good-natured Negro woman,” (Pieterse 154). Since slavery itself did not allow parenthood, slaves usually found themselves in the role of a parent when taking care of the white child. “Their reassuring aura was transformed into a commercial gloss on products,” (Pieterse 155). As a result, families felt comfort in the image that the pancake mix provided.
They were familiar with the certain role that was being portrayed. Aunt Jemima is also still on the shelves to this day. But now it is more of a familiarity rather then a racial stereotype. Who hasn’t had Aunt Jemima pancakes in their lifetime? People don’t see the image and say, “Hey look a black nanny on the label it must be good!” This image is just a stereotypical picture that generations have been growing up with. “Always clean, ready to serve with a crisp smile, intuitively knowledgeable, and distinctively southern in their spoken words, they epitomized servility with exceptionally natural cheerfulness,” (Pieterse 155). In the colonial time until the 1940’s this image may have been a racial statement, but now it is just a familiar brand of food.In conclusion, this article shared many points on how advertising influences the way people stereotype others.
Especially when it comes to, “Whites on Blacks.” What would happen if the article were, “Black on Whites?” Would the racial stereotypes be as jarring as the ones represented in this article? It would probably not because those images would have a different sense to them. “Africans did not traffic in European Slaves for three hundred years, nor have they occupied the dominant place in the world’s political, economic, and cultural system,” (Pieterse 10). It would be interesting to see how stereotypes would be if there was never such hate in this world.
Unfortunately, history didn’t happen like this. Advertisers took advantage of history and used images that people were familiar with to relate to the consumers that were buying their products. Which is what advertising is all about, relating to the consumer.
It is unfortunate that advertisers had to turn to racial slurs to get there point across, because to this day those racial statements are still sitting on the shelves of our local grocery stores. And the sad conclusion is that people don’t even think twice about the labels they are seeing because they are so familiar with the product. It’s like society has became blind to stereotypes because they are used so commonly.
The target audience has even changed. Middle class America is very diverse. White is not the majority anymore in certain parts of the United States. Society has come along way from the days of colonialism.
It is true that there will always be some sort of stereotyping. Sorry to say but that’s human nature. But all in all, people are thankfully more open to diversity.
Yet the saying, “you can’t teach a old dog new tricks,” runs true. Why? Well it’s proved in advertising, familiarity is what sells. Unconsciously society is engulfed by what advertisers lay in front of our eyes. They use popular media, which is everywhere, to get our attention. This article is great proof that stereotypes of blacks live on even though America has had great strides in the civil right movements.
Popular media has given generations comfort, and in result this certain comfort of products has passed on unwanted stereotypes.