With pen-maker Uni-ball’s release of an ad featuring what amounts to a racist white fantasy on Black manhood in America, they have displayed the level of cultural insensitivity, sheer ignorance and blatant bigotry typically reserved for Ku Klux Klan meetings and Tea Party rallies. The ad opens with a overly muscular Black man — presumably from prison yard weight sessions — sitting on a cot in his cell reading a letter from one of the “homies” typed in Edwardian Script and recited in an elite British accent, instead of written in his own “voice” with a Uni-ball pen:
What up, homie. It’s wack that 5-0 bust you shifting bricks of da funky buddha. And I ain’t just spitting, yo. Everyday we be respecting wit a 40 on da floor for our peeps in lockdown. But word up, me and my homie T-Bone, we got a hood snitch up in the pen. We gon’ cut you loose like a noose, my dukes. And you be chillin’ in the crib knocking boots with some hoodrats. Gotta bounce, dawg.
Credits: Creative Ad Agency: TBWA Client: Uniball Pens Executive Creative Directors: Matthew Brink, Adam Livesey Art Director: Jade Manning, Sacha Traest Copywriter: Vincent Osmond Production: Sandra Gomes Account Manager: Morgan Wanckel, Niki Cinnamon, Claire Peters Production Company: Frieze Films Director: Rob Malpage DOP: Rob Malpage Sound: Sterling Sound, RobRoy Music.
*** Clearly, the Grand Wizards and Dragons over at Uni-ball labor under the misconception that Black people neither read, write nor have the gifts of sight and hearing, because this ad is not marketed to us. Its target must be the caliber of privileged neo-Nazi who finds laughing at systemic and systematic racism a jolly old good time.
Though the burly, Black actor who decided to literally sell-out should not be allowed to dodge accountability, there is something sinister about a corporation that would purposely capitalize on the degradation, marginalization and oppression tactics used to destabilize Black communities in America.
In a real life scenario, “the homie’s” father was killed by police, he started “shifting bricks of da funky buddha” after his Chicago public school was shut down and his mother, unable to afford insurance, became too ill to work. Because of the War on Drugs, which disproportionately affects Black men, “the homie” has spent the last 10 years behind bars on a first offense.
Those “hood-rats” are more likely to be raped by the age of 18 and less likely to report it because of societal stigmas and cultural pressure.
And those nooses?
Weapons of mass destruction used to decimate entire generations, while some in White America step over the graves and pretend that the wage, education and occupation gaps are the result of hard work and not outright generational theft.
Bottom line: The product doesn’t matter. There will always be certain corporations — whether peddling reality television, gangsta rap, soda or pens — that are dedicated to perpetuating the image of Black men as criminal, hyper-sexed, uneducated and sub-human. And if we remain silent, we are complicit in allowing a caricature of our culture to become a minstrel show — with no ticket needed for admission.