SCENE: Mitch BERG is shoveling landscaping dirt into a wheelbarrow, distracted. Avery LIBRELLE pedals up the alleyway on, naturally, a recumbent fat-tire bike, catching BERG by surprise.
BERG: Aaaaah, fffffffor crying out loud, Avery, long time no see. What’s…
LIBRELLE: America is built around structural racism.
BERG: Our “structurally racist” country elected a black president, twice, and we have a sitting Veep who is Black and South Asian.
LIBRELLE: Yeah, but that’s just politics.
BERG: OK. This country is capitalist, right?
LIBRELLE: Ugh. Yes. Ick.
BERG: And under capitalism – well, the parody of it you people observe – all things evolve back to money, right?
LIBRELLE: Ugh, yes. Awful.
BERG: Right. And there are few places in our society where “money” and the people who spend it are as attuned to peoples attitudes as in advertising.
And perhaps you’ve noticed – in advertising these days, “people of color” are represented waaaay out of proportion with their share of American demographics. And remember fifty years ago, when Norman Lear got all “transgressive” and cast a biracial couple as bit players on All in the Family? Pretty scandalous stuff, back then – but interracial couples are kinda the “it” thing in advertising these days.
Now – given the ad industry’s focus on consumer attitudes, and capitalism’s imperative to make money work, would advertisers be pushing “racial diversity” in ads if the general public, including the white middle class which makes up a large portion of advertisers targets, were just frothing with racial hate?
LIBRELLE: You notice skin color in ads?
BERG: I notice trends in advertising, a key part of the industry I grew up in and which is still my avocation.
LIBRELLE: That’s racist.
BERG: No, it’s utterly clinical. But shall I just ignore everyone’s race? Because that’s pretty much my default setting…
LIBRELLE: No, that’s racist, too…
BERG: So the only thing that’s not “racist” is shutting up and letting you tell me what to think?
LIBRELLE: Pretty much.
BERG: Naturally. Hey, loook (points into the distance) – a garbage truck!
(LIBRELLE looks around – giving BERG an opening to slip away) .