Branding to end racism

In October, I wrote a post proclaiming a manifesto against discrimination for multicultural and Hispanic marketing professionals. In my opinion, not only do we have an obligation to our clients and business needs, but also to make our communities better places to live. Unfortunately, discriminatory attitudes still exist in advertising, marketing, and media. The good news is that those who have had the most negative impact on the perceptions of race and ethnicity are also in the unique position to propagate the most good. A recent campaign from Mexico may suggest there are other professionals that agree.

Part of a campaign for social change, the video above, Racismo en Mexico (Racism in Mexico), recently went viral online and has spread quickly through social media outlets. A practical reenactment of the Kenneth and Mamie Clark doll experiments from the 1940s, the video is a montage of interviews with children from Mexico as they answer questions about two dolls placed in front of them – one of white complexion, the other of dark complexion. One does not need to understand Spanish to comprehend the message of the campaign – as well as which doll the majority of the children deem as “beautiful” or “good”. To those of us familiar with the deeply ingrained attitudes toward skin color in Mexico, the responses from the children not surprising, albeit uncomfortable to watch.

There are many that may suggest the perception of color in Mexico is not the same as in the U.S. The two countries have experienced different histories with colonization and interracial mixing. The majority of Mexican individuals do not belong to a race but rather to an ethnicity. In addition, cultural attitudes also define a difference toward race and color between Mexico and the U.S. An article last week from the New York Times reported how many Latinos feel that culture is ultimately more important than race. According to the article, the U.S. Census Bureau has been challenged to record accurate results from polled Hispanics asked to define their race. Since “people of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin may be of any race,” the Census can be confusing for many who see themselves within the context of nationality or culture, as opposed to race.

That having been said, it would be foolish to say that race does not impact the lives of many Latinos. Having spent time in both Mexico and Puerto Rico, I can personally attest to this. Obviously, the campaign developers of Racismo en Mexico can as well. Regardless of our respective cultures and histories, Tom Devriendt of the blog Africa is a Country said it best by stating that a segregated society is one that breeds distrust and internalized racism. As I write this post, I reflect on this day being the recognized birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. How do we as professionals – business people and community leaders alike – forge our own respective legacies in support of equality for all?


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