This is the latest in a series on the use of the race card for political gain:
This week we bring together two distinct concepts. Chris Matthews and Naomi Campbell.
Chris Matthews has been featured here before for his prowess in playing the race card.
This week Matthews also designated the word “European” as a potentially racist term based on nativist hostility, at least when it is used in reference to Barack Obama’s policies. (via The PJ Tatler)
Notice how Matthews says “let’s keep race out of it for five seconds …” and uses the term “nativist” as a cue for Ed Rendell to term the phrase “a slur.”
Shift over to Naomi Campbell, known for throwing things at the help and generally being a spoiled celebrity.
Picking up on that image, Cadbury chocolate in Britain (owned by Kraft) ran an ad for an upscale chocolate bar with the phrase (but no image of Campbell) saying “”Move over, Naomi, there’s a new diva in town… I’m the world’s most pampered bar.”
Campbell may have a claim for the use of her name for commercial purposes without permission, but that is not enough, she’s screaming racism because the ad was for a chocolate bar:
“I am shocked. It’s upsetting to be described as chocolate, not just for me, but for all black women and black people. I do not find any humour in this. It is insulting and hurtful.”
The model’s mother, Valerie Morris, backed her daughter, saying: “I’m deeply upset by this racist advert. Do these people think they can insult black people and we just take it? This is the 21st century, not the 1950s. Shame on Cadbury.”
Disgust at the ad prompted members of the public to complain to the campaign group Operation Black Vote (OBV), which has called for Cadbury to apologise. OBV’s Simon Woolley said that without an apology, the “only recourse black people have is not to buy its chocolate”. He has written to the American civil rights activists Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to ask them to mobilise the country’s Afro-American population. “I want them to know what their parent company is doing in Europe. I’ve asked them to support us.”
Mr Woolley said that, for black people, being likened to chocolate was as bad as being called a golliwog. “Racism in the playground starts with black children being called ‘chocolate bar’. At best, this is insensitive, and at worst it demonstrates Cadbury’s utter disregard for causing offence. Its lack of apology just adds insult to injury. The Eurocentric joke is not funny to black people.
“Cadbury understands that our latest advertising campaign for ‘Cadbury Dairy Milk Bliss’ caused upset to Naomi Campbell and her family. Cadbury takes its responsibility to consumers very seriously indeed and we would never deliberately produce any marketing material we felt might cause offence to any section of society.
“It was not our intention that this campaign should offend Naomi, her family or anybody else and we are sincerely sorry that it has done so.
“We can confirm that the advertisement is no longer in circulation and we will not be using it in future marketing….We have been in discussions with Naomi’s solicitors and can confirm that they have accepted our apology on her behalf as a conclusion to this issue.”
Let’s talk about all this.
First, since when did calling something or someone “European” constitute a racial slur? Politically in this country, where we love economic freedom, calling an economic policy “European” may be a slur because it implies government policies meant to control individual economic freedom, but it is not a racial or racist slur.
Second, there may be uses of “chocolate” which have a racial reference, such as when Ray Nagin referred to New Orleans as a chocolate city. But Cadbury clearly was not using Campbell’s name in a chocolate ad because of or in reference to her skin color. Campbell was mentioned because of her high profile spoiled-brat image.
So the non-racist racist term of the week is: European Chocolate.