Controversial Post, I realize. But something in me couldn't ignore this and be quiet. If you're uncomfortable with the topic or images of race, please skip this post.
In addition to being the Chef and Owner of Kiss My Bundt Bakery, I have another business focused on social justice and community building. I make sure not to blur these lines, because people come to Kiss My Bundt for lighthearted fun, baking classes, or to learn how to get great cakes and confections. You don't come here for social commentary on the state of race relations in America.
But with a recent Duncan Hines advertisement video, the two passions in my life, as well as my experience being an African-American Chef raised by parents who grew up in the segregated American South where they faced these images in the 1950's, have intersected, prompting me to at least comment, especially after my friend Chrystal of Duo Dishes was so bold to write this post early this morning: http://www.duodishes.com/2010/12/20/the-duncan-hines-debacle/.
I commented on their blog (i'll repost that comment at the end of this blog post as well).
But first, the video: Disclaimer: Depending on when you try to access this video, Duncan Hines may have pulled it from You Tube.
Defined: Classic blackface is where Anglo-American "white" actors would use burnt cork or paint to color their faces dark black and imitate their best stereotypes of African Americans, beginning in the 1830's.To learn more about blackface, here is a Wikipedia link, thought you can google the subject as well.
I understand that the topic of race is a polarizing one. I have facilitated this conversation among elected officials, government agencies, nonprofits and communities across Los Angeles County. It's a hard conversation, one most people actively avoid. I'm hoping to not be polarizing by raising Duncan Hines-gate here. I know that some bloggers and businesses who've talked about this issue have lost followers and business.
We all see and interpret information through our own lenses, lenses shaped by our experiences. So, while I don't feel the intent of this video was to offend, I think some people find it offensive and I think Duncan Hines should have been aware of this. You may see nothing wrong with this video. No judgement here. This is just one of those posts to get discourse flowing. I'm not a "tar heel" even though I'm from North Carolina. I'm open to all sides.
-Chrysta. Chef, Owner, Instructor. Kiss My Bundt Bakery.
My comment on the Duo Dishes' Post:
Well-rounded post–I think you tackled for me what’s the heart of the issue–Duncan Hines should have had someone on staff that said “Hey, this COULD be perceived as racist and at the very least negatively impact our minority base” and stopped the video from going public.
The lack of diversity (race or perspectives) at Duncan Hines is dangerous for any company with a multicultural, global potential consumer base. When you don’t have diversity of ideas, especially among people with decisionmaking authority, you get public relations challenges like these “Hip Hop Cupcakes”.
When I was a little girl growing up in the American South, my mom was the only African-American manager in her division and she served AT&T as their Diversity Manager. I remember her teaching me about cultural sensitivity at age 8 over an ad that AT&T corporate created that wasn’t sensitive at all. She immediately knew it would be bad–and it turned out that way for AT&T.
The concept of the ad was that AT&T Universal Card was available around the world. Innocent so far, right? The ad’s visuals were a map of the world, and on each continent was a cartoon drawing of a child in ethnic garb. The US has a “white” looking boy in a baseball uniform maybe. Over Europe was a Dutch looking girl in clogs. Over Asia was a Japanese girl in a Kimono. Over the continent of Africa was a dark black monkey with pink lips and a big smile.
I don’t think AT&T’s executives sat around a table and said “Let’s poke fun of blacks by having their continent not be represented by a child but instead a savage animal–a gorilla!–since slaves and their decendents were called that. This’ll be great!”
Instead what happens in these corporations is the lack of cultural sensitivity that allows campaigns like these past the cutting room floor.
23years later I remember that AT&T ad.
Thank you for writing about this issue. Perhaps the net-effect of this DuncanHines-gate is that your readers go to their industries a little more aware of how they can introduce cultural sensitivity in their daily grind.
Kiss My Bundt Bakery
(sent via IPhone so please excuse any typos)