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Opinion
Tim Giago: Discrimination in the media and advertising


"This week let me tell you about what I label as 'unconscious discrimination.' It is discrimination by advertising agencies and the media in general by executives who are unintentionally insensitive to the thoughts and feelings of minorities and women.

In Rapid City the television crew is allowed to perch above a path where prisoners walk from one building to another. Nearly every night, adapting the television adage that ‘if it bleeds it leads,” inmates are captured by the media in handcuffs and leg irons shuffling from one building to another. The inmates in Rapid City are, for the most part, Native American and those in Albuquerque are mostly Hispanic.

What subliminal message does this convey? To the white population, particularly the very young, it sends the message that all criminals are either Native American or Hispanic. To the Native American and Hispanic viewers it is a source of humiliation because it spotlights the criminal element within their race.

This 'unconscious discrimination' is prevalent in the message conveyed by the advertising agencies where people living far from the racial demographics of the local communities usually create local ads.

For example, two of the major colleges in South Dakota are advertising the benefits of attending school on their campuses. One commercial is a voice over by the retired anchorman of NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw. His ad, for his alma mater, the University of South Dakota, is a collage of photos showing graduates of USD. This ad has one thing in common with the ads by rival college South Dakota State University. All of the graduate achievers are white."

Get the Story:
Tim Giago: "Unconscious discrimination" in the media and in advertising (The Native American Times 3/7)

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