So, we’ll let the conversation roll in a regular series we dub, “Is it Racist,” which is essentially the brainchild of Gitamba Saila-Ngita, a multidisciplinary designer and innovation strategist, living, working, and playing between CT / NYC / SF. He is the founder and chief innovation strategist of DEFT COLLECTIVE, a creative innovation agency based in Hartford, Connecticut.
My name is Gitamba Saila-Ngita and I once helped an agency sell sugar water to children. I’ve also helped them sell new technologies, ideas, and other people’s culture. But what I’ve always found funniest is when I’ve been hired to make things more, “urban” and by “urban” they meant “black”. Race is a topic that in the United States at times feels like we’re trying to seriously look at it with a fine lens and other times completely turning a blind eye to avoid it because it might make for a lack of a better word a few folks, butt hurt.
Recently in the last few months I’ve found that for advertising folks and almost always on this blog we’re hashing over if something is, “racist or not”. Mainly under the pretense that a group of people were offended by the subject matter in the ad and have used the internet to voice their opinion. I reached out to Kiran because I wanted to hopefully start a casual dialogue about the matter from the perspective of ad folks who clearly make these communications for their respective clients.
First let’s define some things so we can look at this objectively.
Racism is defined by most dictionaries as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race” and a racist as “a person who believes in racism, the doctrine that a certain human race is superior to any or all others. For fun, let’s throw in offensive as “causing resentful displeasure; highly irritating, angering, or annoying”
With those thoughts in mind, I wanted to find an ad each time I or anyone else writes for this series and put it through those quantifying factors with understanding that the third one is purely subjective to an individual or group.