How to market a black man without being racist: America, we’ll get there

By Guest Contributor The Elahater, originally published at hate on me

So for about the 467th time since November, I heard news once again that some company was marketing a product or doing something that is racially insensitive when trying to capitalize on the election of Barack Obama as president. Cause it’s happened before. Yea, many times. Ad nauseam, I believe is how they call it. So who’s the culprit this time?

obamachia

Yeah, they made a Chia-Pet Obama version (special edition, it says!) which depicts his natural black hair growing out like what some say is a green ‘fro. After complaints and bad press, Walgreens, et. al. pulled the product.

I don’t know about the rest of the haters here at HateOnMe, but I’m getting tired of having to explain to companies, public officials and everyone else putting themselves out there about what they shouldn’t do or say or market or joke about when it comes to the president and his race. So I’m not gonna do it this time.

I had thought this would happen, that confusions about what people “can” and “can’t” say about the prez would come about. And I guess I was right. One commentator points out in light of “Chia-Gate:”

The Chia Obama has now become the latest part of the debate on how to market, and talk about Obama, without being racist. The smallest slipup in making an Obama caricature of any kind brings on racist charges, despite claims of a “post-racial” nation after the election victory

People don’t know how to market and even talk about Obama because they’re more concerned about not being called a racist than actually being a racist. And I can’t hate on just these companies and those that market their products (although it’s obvious that many don’t have people of color in board meetings), ’cause they’re just a reflection of a good chunk of society anyway.

It’s just like your friend who may not know much about your ethnic background: they say some shit, you call them out on it, they apologize and retract and they learn not to say that thing again. If they’re jerks they’ll think in their minds, “Damn, you’re sensitive. Whatever.” BUT if they’re humble about the fact they don’t know what it’s like to be Black/Latino/Asian/Middle Eastern/Gay etc. etc. in America today, they’ll shut up and listen to you.

And I mean really listen. Listen with an attitude of wanting to learn something rather than one of “I know more/How can I disprove what is being said to me?” Stop appropriating the space and allow others to educate you for a minute.

Trust me: we’ve heard them.

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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