A thousand words and then some

A picture is worth a thousand words as the saying goes. The entertainment and media industry knows that well. That’s why when I came across this image in my Facebook feed, I was disheartened. If it is not readily apparent what is concerning about this, unfortunately you are in the majority. Take a closer look and you will see the distinction. The African American mother is by herself while the Caucasian mother is with what is presumed to be her husband.

Pardon me while I check my calendar to make sure it’s 2014, not 1814.

Apparently, the Mad Men of today are no different than the ones depicted in the hit AMC series. Speaking of television, it’s no better. Matter of fact, it’s worse. Predominantly black tv shows were in either one of two categories: the poor family trying to get by (e.g. Good Times, Sanford and Son) or the pompous, showboat black male (e.g. The Jeffersons). In my view, The Cosby Show was successful mainly for the fact that it portrayed a black family dealing with issues that middle class families all deal with, regardless of race. Sure, it had its episodes that dealt with race, but that was not the basis of the program.

And if you don’t think images matter in entertainment or advertising and people aren’t paying attention, think back to the backlash Cheerios experienced over its ad with a biracial couple last year.

Image is a powerful medium. It’s how we judge others and others judge us before one word is uttered.

So, yes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Let’s be careful as to which thousand words they are.

jeffrey hastie
@jhastie963
jahastie@gmail.com