Tweet of the Week, Vol. 2

via @rebrub
via @rebrub

In which I highlight tweets from around the area and analyze why they’re important.

Well now, this one is a doozy. I’m not sure what newspaper this ad is in, but I don’t think it matters. The message is loud and clear. Giant, the grocery store that’s the anchor of O Street Market — a relatively controversial development in Shaw — is advertising to students at nearby Howard University. And the model they used does not look like most people who go to the school, one of the nation’s most prominent historically black institutions.

To be clear, there is nothing specifically wrong with this advertisement. It could be that this is just another college name plugged into a pre-done clip-art advertisement. But the choice to use a white model to symbolize a typical student at Howard is an interesting one, even if accidental. It’s not like white people don’t go to Howard, but they are in the extreme minority. If nothing else, it’s certainly something that is noticeable whenever highlighted.

Last year, when Jillian Parker — who played lacrosse at Howard — released a video called “Mr. Football,” which told the story of a relationship and was shot on campus, a major debate opened up about it. Parker, who is white, is the main character in the video, singing to a football player, who is black. A fact that rankled some people.

“Jillian Parker is White. Her on-screen boo, like the vast majority of Howard students/alumni, is Black.  And I am bothered by this video. Bothered,” Jamilah Lemieux a Howard alum wrote for Ebony.com last year. “Howard is hallowed ground—for me and for a lot of Black people. Our school is known as “The Mecca,” short for “The Mecca for Black intellectuals.” I think of all HBCUs in that way. Safe havens. Not the place where White girls go to find desirable men.”

While I think this ad is relatively innocuous in the grand scheme of things, it definitely got a laugh out of me. And even if @rebrub’s analysis is a bit over the top in my opinion, her point is well-taken. Somebody, anybody local could have taken one look at that and known it probably didn’t work. Or maybe someone did, and they just didn’t know.

Takeaway: Always check your stock images, kiddos.

Clinton Yates is a D.C. native and an online columnist. When he's not covering the city, pop culture or listening to music, he watches sports. A lot of them.
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