Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

Introduction by series curators, Dr. Roland L. Leak, associate professor of marketing at North Carolina A&T, and Rebekah Modrak, professor of art at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

In the wake of massive racial protests over the past year, some companies began the work of re-evaluating how their brand messaging and corporate actions contribute to racism. Most famously, Quaker Foods “retired” the image of Aunt Jemima, originally based on the caricature of the enslaved “mammy” who contentedly and lovingly cared for her white family. College campuses attempted to reconcile unencumbered, historical outward displays of racism on campus while simultaneously grappling…

Introduction by series curator Dr. Lata Murti, associate professor of sociology at Brandman University

Little girl taking online classes
Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

“Educational institutions are the ONE thing that we all do for 13 years,” writes Dr. Trinity Davis in her contribution to this series. But our experiences of these institutions differ widely according to race, class, and gender. Black students find that their white counterparts are more prepared for school and tend to experience more academic success throughout their K-12 education. Meanwhile, social class differences — which often intersect with racial differences — also determine students’ academic readiness and progress, with students in lower socioeconomic classes struggling…

Photo by Fondazione Prada

by Sophia Ellis, Larissa Nez, Rai Mckinley Terry

In the late 18th century, Wedgwood porcelain became a desired luxury commodity among the British bourgeoisie. Today Wedgwood porcelain is featured on the pedestals of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and galleries across the world. Its notoriety is entangled with porcelain’s fraught history, extending from Asia to the Americas and converging with how we think about the power within ‘empire’ and ‘abolitionism.’ The infatuation with its whiteness and potential profit triggered a cycle of exploitation and theft. This overwhelming desire for the material even had a name — “porcelain sickness.” …

Written by Dr. Janet Borgerson and Dr. Jonathan Schroeder

Stock photos intended to show diversity sometimes end up emphasizing difference.
Sarah Pflug from Burst

A long-running promotional campaign, ‘Imagine having nothing to hide,’ from global cosmetic company Estée Lauder reveals a standard trope for ‘beauty’ marketing imagery — showing models of varying skin tones to demonstrate the brand’s appropriateness for ‘all’ consumers. One example states: ‘Proven gentle and effective for all ethnicities,’ Estée Lauder’s ‘fast-acting serum,’ promises to reduce ‘redness, acne marks, dark spots, and uneven skin tone.’ Generally, these images feature a white model, a black model (often light-skinned), and either an Asian or Hispanic model.

In one example, well-known models Joan Smalls, Constance…

by Dr. Arthur Scarritt

Group of diverse students
Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

Universities raising money by advertising diversity actually increase racism among white students. Universities across the US, like mine, make official statements that they are “actively committed to diversity and inclusivity, a stance in alignment with our Statement of Shared Values.” Such proclamations are mostly aspirational, saying the university would certainly like more diversity and is not going to take active measures to stop it.

At the same time, universities use diversity as advertising to attract students, with web pages, glossy printed materials, and colorful posters disproportionately featuring people of color. But using diversity as advertising makes…

By Dr. Jennifer McClearen and Lily Kunda

Naomi Osaka in a nike ad
Photo courtesy of NIke

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2021, Nike released a short film titled We Play Real honoring Black women. Just 60 seconds long, the film questions the myth of supernatural Black exceptionalism often attributed to Black athletes by featuring Black women excelling in sports through hard work instead of “magic.”

The film, narrated by actress Dominique Fishback, features a collage of famous Black women athletes, pioneers, and every-day Black women. As the images celebrating these women dance across the screen, Fishback recites:

It’s not magic. It’s organic from the curl in our hair…

4 players on UCLA women’s soccer team toudh each other’s shoulder while 1 player of color kneels
Photo by Jaylynne Heffernan and UCLA Athletics

by Bilal Saeed

Growing up as a Pakistani-American Muslim in a white community, I was no stranger to people asking me where I was really from, what gods I believed in, or if I had to marry the only other Brown girl in school.

Existing as one of only a few young Muslims in a predominantly white community became even more challenging when my senior year of high school coincided with the tragic events of September 11, 2001 — a day more aptly known as “9/11.” Just days after 9/11, I was called a racial slur by an opponent while…

by Dr. Tami Lincoln

Child sitting in front of a row of books reading on a tablet
Photo by Marta Wave from Pexels

“One of my favorite books from elementary school is ‘Abuela’ by Arthur Dorros. It’s a magical book about a girl and her grandma that fly over New York City. It’s full of adventure and interactions with the locals. I think it helped me identify myself when I first arrived in the United States and was learning English as a child. Growing up my parents always worked long hours so I practically lived with my grandma and we’d do everything together. …

by Dinorah Hudson, Dr. Irena Nayfeld, and Dr. Yana Kuchirko

Woman in White Shirt Holding Girl in Brown and White Stripe Shirt
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

A Black teacher teaching a class of Black and Brown students affirms his students’ experiences by gesturing to his own history. A white teacher leading a class largely composed of students of color lets her racial difference become a (sometimes comic) point of pedagogy. An Asian teacher who emigrated to the US in the 1970s is able to address the concerns of a newly immigrated Chinese student around a low grade in ways that are attuned to the student’s cultural context. A Cuban teacher raised in the U.S. …

by Dr. Robert Simmons

A teacher in a white shirt giving a student a double high five
Photo from the Center for Black Educator Development

I am from a place where being home before the streetlights came on meant just that. I am from a neighborhood in Detroit where drugs and guns were more common than schoolbooks. I am from a place where milkcrate basketball hoops brought out the best in us. I am from a place where my past informed my “why” for becoming a Black male teacher. I am a Black male teacher from here to eternity.

On a fall day in 1997, I walked into a classroom with 25 eight-year-old Black children from the same neighborhood in Detroit…

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