Media tagged Whiteness

University of North Georgia Catalogue Cover

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The cover of this 2015 University of North Georgia’s Professional and Continuing Education course catalogue depicts the image of a track race. There are four people in business attire racing towards the finish line. First and second place go to two white men in suits. Trailing behind them in the race are a woman and a Black man. At the top of the page, the word ‘SUCCESS’ is written in large letters. Below it, there is a circle enclosing the text ‘Why follow when you can LEAD!’ The image on this course catalogue came from a stock photo library. After it received criticism in a newspaper about the message it was sending, the university decided to pull the catalogue and remove the image from its materials. A university spokesperson made a statement saying that the use of this photo was “an isolated case of poor judgment, and was not intentional.” Other media outlets later used google searches and found that many others were also using this stock image in their marketing.

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Vaseline Skin Whitening

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This ad was produced in the year 2010 by Vaseline, and it was targeted toward male consumers in India. It is an advertisement for the Vaseline Men UV Whitening Body Lotion, one of many skin-lightening or "fairness" creams in the Indian consumer product market. The ad also offers men a chance to test out a new Facebook application in which they could digitally alter a photo of themselves to show how a lightened look would appear. The ad was the site of significant controversy in the United States and in India, as described in this article from CNN.com. 

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Viola Davis 2015 Emmy acceptance speech

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At the 67th Emmy Awards in 2015, actress Viola Davis became the first woman of color to ever win the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal of a lawyer in the television show,How To Get Away With Murder. The actress started her acceptance speech with a quote from American abolitionist Harriet Tubman, acknowledged and paid tribute to the struggles and achievements of past and current women and men of color in the entertainment industry, and talked about the systemic exclusion of people of color from Hollywood and the U.S. entertainment industry. She said, “Let me tell you something. The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

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What Do You Know About Black History?

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In this February, 2012 video comedian, Dave Ackerman puts on black face and proceeds to interview several students at Brigham Young University about Black History Month. BYU, located in Provo, Utah, is a Mormon university where just 0.059% of the student population is African American. First, the students are shown not knowing which month is Black History Month. Then, they are shown knowing very little about any historical black figure other than Martin Luther King, Jr. One student claims to celebrate the month with fried chicken and grape juice, while others claim that some students have “jungle fever” and like to date black people. Female students universally and emphatically agree that they would rather date a “black guy who acts like a white guy” than a “white guy who acts like a black guy.” The video concludes with the students doing impressions of black people. In the end, Ackerman seems to attempt to explain his problematic donning of black face by saying he is “fighting ignorance with ignorance.”

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What It’s Like to be Ambiguously Ethnic

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This 2014 video addresses the everyday experiences of “What It’s Like to be Ambiguously Ethnic.” The video shows a diverse range of people talking about issues such as the misunderstandings and confused comments and interactions they experience, people trying to place identity categories onto them that they do not identify with, people assuming you can speak different languages, and having to decide what to do when they experience racial or ethnic microaggressions, or the everyday, often unintentional, marginalizing interactions racial and ethnic minorities frequently experience in the U.S. For example, one man of Japanese, Mexican, and Filipino background described a substitute teacher who was taking roll at the beginning of class and did not believe that he matched his name because of his physical appearance. Another man of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Hawaiian, and Korean background describes a situation when he was walking down the street in Chicago and a woman who was having problems communicating with her Uber driver saw him and asked, “Excuse me sir, can you take this call? This Uber driver, I think he’s Middle Eastern, Arabic. Can you handle this?” 

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