These Racist Ads Will Make You Cringe

Racist French Bleach Ad/Unknown /Wikimedia/Public Domain


Racism in advertising has existed for an incredibly long time. For so long that these racist acts  seems like blatant attacks on our character rather than honest mistakes by misguided advertisers.

Black people started appearing in ads in the 1870s, around the time when color printing was available. Ads frequently depicted Black people as illiterate, subservient or undesirable.

Like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, Black people were used as trademarks to sell easy-to-use products. This persisted throughout the Civil Rights era.

In the 1940s, the first Black ad agency, Womack Advertising,  tried to change the tide, but gaining sales from white mainstream advertisers made it hard to stay in business.

Decades later, the Black advertising maverick Tom Burrell came along and tried to fix that problem by creating his own ad agency in 1971. His number one goal was to create advertisements that showed Black people positively.

But for all the work done to change the way Black people are depicted in advertising, advertisers still have a long way to go.

Most recently, Dove’s ad showing a Black woman transforming into a white woman drew the ire of Black people and consumers.

Really, some of the racist ads today look just like the racist ads from the days of yore. Playstation’s “White Is Coming,” Nivea’s “Re-civilize Yourself” and “White Is Purity” ads and the laughable Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad don’t differ much from ads in the 1800s.

Pears Soap

Back in the day, many ads featured Black people’s complexion turned white by washing with soap.

Cream of Wheat

Ads also used to show Black people speaking improper English, alluding to Black people being illiterate.

Maxwell House Coffee

This ad didn’t even employ a Black person. Just a white person in Blackface. Yes, you read that right.

Uncle Remus Syrup

You’ve heard of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, but have you heard of Uncle Remus?

General Electric

This one is just racist for the sake of racism.

Racism in ads is another example of how deeply racism is ingrained in the American consciousness. The fact that these ads still happen today is unacceptable.

Support PushBlack

PushBlack brings our readers inspiring and unbiased Black history stories that we know can change the world. With your small monthly contribution of $5, we can reach over 2 million African-Americans by the end of 2018. Click here to donate!

Share This Article: