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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LESS DREADING, MORE DOING

This is the rubber-meets-road moment: the early days in our first fundraising drive since we took a big swing and merged with CIR to bring fearless investigative reporting to the internet, radio, video, and everywhere else that people need an antidote to lies and propaganda.

Donations have started slow, and we hope that explaining, level-headedly, why your support really is everything for our reporting will make a difference. Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” or in this 2:28 video about our merger (that literally just won an award), and please pitch in if you can right now.

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