Pride and Prejudice

A selection of ’70s ads depicting African Americans.


“Unbranded” is a series of images taken from magazine advertisements targeting a black audience or featuring black subjects, which I digitally manipulated and appropriated. In this work-in-progress project that will ultimately span from 1969 through the present, I have removed all aspects of advertising information, e.g., text, logos, in order to reveal what is being sold. Nothing more has been altered. I believe that in part, advertising’s success rests on its ability to reinforce generalizations around race, gender, and ethnicity that can be entertaining, sometimes true, and sometimes horrifying, but which at a core level are a reflection of the way a culture views itself or aspirations. By “Unbranding” advertisements I can literally expose what Roland Barthes refers to as “what-goes-without-saying” in ads, and hopefully encourage viewers to look harder and think deeper about the empire of signs that have become second nature to our experience of life in the modern world.

Who Can Say No to a Gorgeous Brunette (1970/2007)
 

Pucker Up! (1972/2008)
 

Kama Mama, Kama Binti (Like Mother, Like Daughter) 1971/2008
 

We Are On Our Way (1970/2008)
 

Can You Dig It? (1974/2007)
 

Are You the Right Kind of Woman For It? (1974/2007)
 

“Smokin Joe Ain’t Je’mama” (1978/2006)
 

The Johnson Family Portrait (1981/2006)

 

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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