"Lots of food for thought here. A fresh perspective in many respects. I'd especially like to discuss Mr. Thompson's perspectives on 'branding'..."
Susan, South East Coast
"I love it. It gives us "white folks" a way to answer some of the ignorant and racist things we hear from conservative relatives and friends who get all their "news" from Fox."
"Full disclosure: I know Mr. Thompson and became curious about his book after I read and was impressed by some of his work online. Thompson approaches his subject, American racism and inequality past and present, from an unusual perspective: for many years he created advertisements for the nation's major advertising agencies. He states that, in essence, European Americans "branded" African Americans with negative attributes to justify slavery, and that today's racism and rampant inequality are the products of hundreds of years of branding, slavery and the accompanying economic advantages European Americans reaped. With RaceMan Answers, he's created a compelling, concise and accessible look at how we got where we are and what we need to do to change. It even has moments of levity. (On whether we live in a "post-racial" society he says, among other things: 'As the harried mom said to the whiny kid in the backseat on a long, long road trip . . . No. We're not there yet.')..." (read more on Amazon) Laura, Chicago "Race Man's telling the truth. The media did brand people in the 1600s. And they're still doing it.
"After the first slave ship came over here, they wiped out our culture in 84 years. When the master gave you a name, they said you had to accept it.
"But young people are getting tired of this. They know people of color will be leading the world. And they just want to get along."
It's easy to criticize. That's why the people who do nothing themselves are so good at it.
I know, because I'm not totally innocent.
Like everybody else, I jumped on you for having the gumption to tackle America's oldest, biggest and most potentially devastating problem - the legacy of our founding flaw - the myth of white supremacy. (Racism is really just a euphemism for it...another way to avoid facing the beastly truth).
You may not realize it, but the real monster we are about to let loose on future Americans is not individual, personal prejudice or one-on-one bias. It is not one that can be conquered by well-meaning but clueless people talking in Starbucks over a venti Triple Swirl Blah, Blah and a Double Roasted Bacon, Egg & Cheddar sandwich (as good as it is).
The 400 ton elephant in the room is the idea that white skin and straight hair makes some humans somehow more "human" than others. And it's an idea - like the one that the earth is flat or the sun revolves around the earth whose time has passed.
I've spent the last 20 years researching, thinking, reading, writing about the issue. I've even created images, ads, posters and paintings designed to get my fellow USers to face the fallacy of race and racial supremacy. This blog is just one of my efforts.
But, now, thanks to you, the subject that everyone - especially our FBP - the elephant has been noticed...at least for the moment. . You've made a first step. Even though the way you tried to do it was all wrong, your idea that something has to be done is alright. As I learned years ago in the ad game, the greatest concept in the world can be quickly brought low by a piss-poor execution.
I hope you've learned that you need to put as much thinking, time and yes, financial resources into making America a better place as you do in making money. (IDEA: How about spending some of your personal billions on this instead of Starbucks'?).
You have proved that you think racism is a problem. Now show the rest of US, it's one you're serious about solving.
For centuries we've lived in a Hypocracy, not a Democracy - an unapologetically whites-first" society that gives lip service to the idea of human equality, while giving all real power to the one tenth of one percent. It's going to take more than 5 days to undo its damage.
So, thanks to you, Howard, we've made a step - even if it's a stumbling, bumbling one.
Btw: Do you have president Obama's phone number? Maybe your efforts will give him a little courage to address an issue he has thus far so skillfully avoided.
10 minutes ago I walked into a neighborhood Starbucks and saw a stack of "Race Together" papers at the bottom of the newspaper stand. Happy to see they were there, I grabbed a few and walked up to the counter. I asked for a young barista I knew who'd expressed an interest in my work.
"He's not here", I was told.
I said, I thought I saw just saw him.
"Well, he's not on the floor yet", the manager said.
"Oh, I wanted to get his opinion on this Race Together campaign" I said, showing the paper.
"We're not talkimg about that. That's over."
This just started. You mean you got official word that it's Kaput?"
"Yes", the barista assured me, with no sense of emotion or loss...probably a lot like the reaction you'd get if you asked a North Korean soldier what Kim Jong-un is really like.
Well, so much for Howard Schultz' "Race Together" dialog. It makes Bill Clinton's Dialog on Race look like a marathon. I'll always call it Starbucks Race to Silence.
THIS JUST IN - Reuters reports Schultz says campaign "not over". I guess he thinks his customers are so smart that they'll understand it's still going on even though it only lasted 4 days and Starbucks barista's look at you crazy if you ask about it (just like they did for the 4 days they were supposed to be...er...umm.."dialoging" about it.) Is this Schultz guy a marketing communications genius...or what?
When I posted my initial reaction to Howard Schultz' Starbucks RaceTogether campaign a few days ago, I was more than a little skeptical that it would do anymore for our nation's perennial problem than electing Barack Obama our FBP (First Black President). Ironically, instead of race relations getting better with Barack, judging from the number of AfAms killed casually by cops and vigilantes, they've gotten worse.
(THIS JUST IN - AP reports that an AfAm man's body was just found hanging from a tree in Claiborne County, Mississippi).
So I'm writing this only to prevent Howard's Race Together initiative from turning into another road to hell, paved with good intentions.
After letting the first word of it...umm...steep...like a Starbucks Earl Gray teabag for a few days...and talking to more than a few Starbucks customers and baristas, I'm going to stifle my cynicism...and, as another fellow Chi-Towner, Jesse Jackson might say, "keep hope alive".
In fact, I'm seriously contemplating starting my own RaceMan Races Ahead Talk-ins at my local Starbucks. I've already said that what seems to be missing from Howard's seemingly well-meaning plans is the little fact that most of US Americans have been taught to be clueless about the USA's racial past. We've been taught a "drive-by" view of America's RaceStory:
Slavery "oh, that was 150 years ago, get over it",
Abe Lincoln (he was a saint who loved all blackfolks and freed the slaves. Now get over it")
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement ("He wasn't a real doctor. Didn't he cheat on his wife. Wasn't it the Kennedys who loved all blackfolks and gave them equal rights and affirmative action after Rosa Parks sat down on that bus? Now get over it").
Maybe I exaggerate, but just a little.
The purpose of my talks would be to give those who are sincere about solving our race problem the gut-wrenching facts of the matter. I mean something besides grade school homilies about George Washimgton chopping down cherry trees or Tom Jefferson actually believing "all men are created equal" when he wrote it with one hand...while holding over 200 men, women and children in chains, with the other.
I've spent countless hours...and dollars in...as the late fellow Chicagoan, Ernie Banks might've said..."its friendly confines". In fact, I'm sitting in my favorite chair in my neighborhood Starbucks in Uptown, Chicago right now as I compose this missive.
Howard, I hardly knew ye.
After all these years sipping your swarthy brews, I didn't have a clue about your...er...uh...racial street cred. Of course, like everyone else, I assumed the name "Schultz" would have kept you out of certain country clubs 100 years ago. But I had no inkling that you aspired to join my 20 year long quest to finally get, what Brotha John Brown called, "this guilty land" to finally..uh..."face up to race" and the ongoing damage that its founding creed of white supremacy is still wreaking on our nation.
But something tells me you didn't think very deeply about how difficult and frought with emotion, guilt, accusation and righteous anger this 400 year old, self-induced racial cancer is. Bill Clinton found out when he started his "Dialog on Race" about 20 years ago...and quickly shut it up when AfAm scholar John Hope Franklin (whom Bubba had appointed to lead the dialog) began to talk seriously about our racist past. President Barack H. Obama hasn't said as much as our famously silent president Calvin Coolidge about the issue. (If our nation's FBP is scared to say a mumblin word about race, what chance do your baristas have while serving triple, double cinnamon swirl, no whip, chocolate lattes?).
But I do admire your spunk. I now dub you an honorary Race Man. Welcome to the fray(ed).
Lowell "RaceMan" Thompson
Btw: Howard, it may help if your baristas actually know something about the subject they're tasked to dialog about, right? So they might want to click on the photo above of my littlest "reader" or the photo of my book, "RaceMan Answers" and buy the ebook. You may even want to take a gander yourself.