Racial Stereotyping of Black Men in American Advertising – Changes Are Still To Come
Advertising in the United States dates back to the very beginnings of the country. Shortly after the creation of the first colonies, the colonists needed a way to communicate with each other, a way to inform each other what is going on the growing cities. Their way of coping with this situation was the creation of newspapers. The “Boston News Letter,” America’s first successful newspaper, created 1704 had its last page left empty for the latest news – or advertising, as it was considered a source of information. The “Boston Daily Advertiser” may serve as an example here; a daily newspaper in Boston with “Advertiser” as its name, for sure didn’t include only commercial offers. Benjamin Franklin’s “The Pennsylvania Gazette” was a part of first American chain
of newspapers, considered to be “[t]he New York Times of the 18th century.” Having that in mind, one has to admit that those newspapers must have been an influential, reliable source of information for their viewers. If they saw an advert like this one about “a cargo of negroes,” where the African people were portrayed as property, they wouldn’t question it. Not only were they convinced that they were superior towards the black race, but the ‘media’ would also strengthen their convictions.
Media has always been connected with advertising; one can’t exist without the other. As media is present in people’s lives, together with advertising it has an opinion- and world view-shaping effect. Commercials could work wonders changing the way people view the world; but they didn’t. There have been attempts to alter public opinion, to fight and change the ruling stereotypes, but they were too subtle, too delicate, as if they were just a cover-up, as if they weren’t really supposed to change anything. I will try to prove my thesis on various examples from the advertising history.