American society has a long history of using racial stereotypes in marketing and advertising campaigns. These stereotypes continue to harm Black people today as it did in 1950s America—just subliminally. As a country, can we confidently say that we have eradicated racism? Some argue that advertisers should be held more accountable for the messaging they are sending out, as media often repeat these ideas and can contribute to the long record of discrimination. Queue racist policies such as the Jim Crow segregation laws that historically disadvantaged Black people in the south. Even after the formal end of segregation policies, racism has continued to influence U.S. today by creating inequities and injustices that are still felt by different racial groups in America.
Ads such as this one by ELLIOT PAINT AND VARNISH COMPANY, trademarked in 1953, is irrefutable evidence of the United States of America's complicity. The often-skewed racial images portrayed Black people as criminals or lazy, while white people are typically painted as hard-working, successful, and/or victims. This type of visual reinforced the idea that white-America is superior and painted Black people as defective—manifesting into institutionalized racism—a form of racism that is perpetuated through policies and practices within organizations, institutions and societies.