ME­DIA WATCH Racism is a crime

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -

IF an ad­ver­tise­ment by a laun­dry de­ter­gent maker in China was raw and racist, the way the of­fend­ing com­pany has gone about is­su­ing an apol­ogy is worse, which makes the whole episode shame­ful. The com­mer­cial was panned last week as the ‘worst ever’ ad­ver­tise­ment. Now the de­ter­gent man­u­fac­turer is blam­ing for­eign (non Chi­nese) me­dia for over-play­ing the clip, which went vi­ral and was crit­i­cised around the world. Peo­ple ex­pressed their shock and out­rage over the por­trayal of Africans.

Un­der fire from all sides, the de­ter­gent com­pany hur­riedly with­drew the of­fen­sive ad and is­sued an apol­ogy, which sounded far from con­vinc­ing. To re­cap, the clip showed a black man try­ing to flirt with an Asian woman, who pushes him into a wash­ing ma­chine af­ter she pops some de­ter­gent into his mouth. At the end of the wash cy­cle he emerges a Chi­nese man. Black turns white, or clean, any­way you look at it. The mes­sage was clear, only that the com­pany in ques­tion did not deem it in­ap­pro­pri­ate or in­sen­si­tive to peo­ple of a dif­fer­ent race or con­ti­nent. The laun­dry de­ter­gent maker didn’t help mat­ters with this sham of an apol­ogy. “We ex­press re­gret that the ad should have caused a con­tro­versy. We ex­press our apol­ogy for the harm caused to the African peo­ple be­cause of the spread of the ad and over-am­pli­fi­ca­tion by the me­dia,” the com­pany said. It then went on to ask the pub­lic and the me­dia not to ‘over-read’ it. But the dam­age was done. Here’s the truth. Race re­la­tions have hit a new low in many coun­tries and at­tacks against Africans have been re­ported in In­dia. In a con­nected and net­worked world, these in­ci­dents show racism is rife. Denial is com­mon. Blam­ing the me­dia is the best course of ac­tion for those fac­ing flak. In this sce­nario, it’s im­por­tant to sen­si­tise com­mu­ni­ties. The me­dia can play an im­por­tant role, but only if gov­ern­ments wake up to is­sues of dis­crim­i­na­tion and racism and brand them as crimes. — Khaleej Times

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