Black Out: The Disappearance of Black Couples in Advertising | Black Writers Week
Movie Reviews

Black Out: The Disappearance of Black Couples in Advertising | Black Writers Week


In a 2009 news article, “Race Becomes More Central to TV Advertising,” Shreffler comments, “Advertising is aspirational. It’s who we want to be, a lifestyle we want — not always who we are.” It is one thing to be aspirational but another thing to distort reality and not having Black executives at the advertising decision table exacerbates the situation.

In a January 2023 Forbes magazine article, Interpublic Group reported that only 2.6% of its executives were Black while 86% were white. What may seem aspirational to those determining what ads are produced may not be aspirational to many Black folks. Renowned advertiser Donny Deutsch commented on that controversial biracial Cheerios commercial, saying, “Great advertising holds up a mirror to who we are and where we’re going.” It must be recognized that historically, it was taboo to showcase and celebrate interracial couples. Including these relationships in commercials, TV, and movies is important, needed, and welcomed. My problem is that its depiction is overwhelmingly lopsided and is more about where we are going and a world many would like to see than who we are.

The disappearance of the Black couple is disturbing in so many ways. First, Black couples fail to see themselves and consequently feel devalued by greater society. Second, Black children are reminded that, supposedly, Black men don’t desire Black women, and Black women don’t want Black men. This absence of Black couples perpetuates the stereotype and the myth that we don’t like each other, and that is far from the truth.

More Black men indeed marry someone of a different race than Black women by 50%, but those numbers alone are deceiving. According to Pew Research Center, “24% of Black men who were newlyweds in 2017 were married to someone of a different race or ethnicity, compared to 12% of Black women.” What these numbers also say is that 76% of Black men who marry get married to a Black woman, and 88% of Black women who marry get married to a Black man. The backlash surrounding interracial couples should have nothing to do with the fact that people of different races love each other.

Interracial couples should be able to love whomever they choose without the hatred and venom that frequently come their way. The challenge is the important inclusion of interracial couples in the advertising mix should not mean the death of Black couples, especially if advertisers are letting the numbers drive their decisions. The Selig Center reports, “In 2020, African American economic clout energized the U.S. consumer market as never before. The buying power of African Americans rose to $1.6 trillion, or 9% of the nation’s total buying power.” All the more reason to accurately depict Black love.



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