I just spent 1/2 an hour watching Rhett and Link’s local commercials at ilovelocalcommercials.com, which are absolutely wonderful snippets of middle America and small town businesses that have been nominated (by anyone…nominate your favorite business) to have a free local commercial made for them by Rhett and Link, sponsored by MicroBilt.
Some local commercials beg the question as to whether it’s stereotypes in advertising if it’s a real person just being himself, and others are multicultural simply as a natural reflection of the people working at the business.
But what led me there was that I woke up this morning thinking about the time in college when all of the African-Americans on my dorm floor starting started stopping by and visiting my dorm room. It was after a weekend when two close friends from High School, one black and one white, had made a surprise visit for the weekend.
Before the visit from my black friend, cordial. After, it felt like I was “in.”
But what got me thinking about that was a comment by moderator Tyrone Stoudemire, Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Hewitt Associates, at a panel discussion last week, “How Diversity Positively Impacts Business, about unconscious bias, this time on the part of young African-Americans who resisted or questioned motives when a senior White leader within a company tried to help or mentor them.
And that circles us back to the ad above. Okay, I found it by (cringe) searching YouTube for “White people being nice to black people.” I was just curious. Was I missing something? Was it really that uncommon?
By having to state that Blacks and Whites both love Red House Furniture, the unconscious assumption is that Blacks and Whites getting along, or having something in common is not the norm…we have to show how we are different.
Do we unconsciously assume that someone from another race won’t like us, BEFORE we assume a neutral first connection?