Sunday, May 04, 2008

A poster at QFC containing a snapshot of a particular aspect of race in America

QFC is a supermarket chain in the Northwest. I was in there one day and noticed that they had a poster mounted on a stand in front of the sea food counter featuring an African-American couple enjoying shrimp together. Sounds great, but the problem is that virtually no actual African Americans shop there. I can't say none, but the number is so extraordinarily small that it's pretty close to none. Instead, the big shoppers are either rich white people or "model minorities" where the term is a short hand for people from other countries that make a lot of money and so are given a pass by white folks as being OK.

In fact, the place where lots of African American people do live in Seattle, the Central District, not only doesn't have a QFC in it but until a few years ago didn't have any supermarkets whatsoever. Now they have a total of one, a cut rate super store that's found no where but in depressed areas.

So what exactly is the purpose of the ad? Is it to sell QFC to black people in an area in which almost none live? I think that in fact its purpose is to reassure white shoppers that the place is progressive, to make them feel good about themselves by ensuring that they shop in an inclusive place. White yuppie liberal Seattleites can rest assured that they're doing the right thing in shopping at QFC, where the ads feature African Americans, even if no actual African Americans shop there.

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