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Friday, April 12, 2013

Racist ads?

There is an ad running on TV in Warsaw that shows a Polish guy in some remote part of Africa that I am sure the writers/client of this commercial has never been. The crux of the ad seems to be that one can use his/her bankcard anywhere. In the commercial, there are Africans in what is meant to be traditional tribal clothing and they are looking at the cash machine as if it is some sort of object from out of space. Then there is a tribesman talking on an iPhone. The whole thing is ridiculous.

I write about this because the commercial is so insensitive I had to wonder how the hell it got on TV. Then I remembered that I live in a very homogeneous place. There is no pressure from other types of people here on the powers that be. So, this type of garbage makes it to TV. Adding fuel to the fire for me was something that happened regarding a commercial not too long ago.

You may have seen the Old Spice ad with the African American guy on the horse. This commercial was banned at first here in Poland by the "ad censors". The people at this government office decided that this commercial was saying that Polish men are inferior. How they got to that brilliant conclusion clearly has a root in ignorance ... one could also call it unintentional racism. Eventually, someone made a more sane decision and allowed the ad to go on the air.

As I think about the bank commercial with the Africans, I begin to see just how ignorant the creators of this ad are. To not see how this is offensive means you are stupid or unknowing. In either case, the client could have asked someone. Someone thought this was funny. Humor is always good, except when it is offensive to others. What would the "ad censors" have done if this commercial was set in a Polish village and the town folk were too stupid to use the cash machine? Would that be funny to them? I hope not. It's not funny to me and it probably isn't funny to a Pole. It is offensive to me because prejudice in any guise is repulsive.


  1. Actually I've seen ads in Polish TV that stereotypized Polish villagers as stupid, uncivilized and dirty. There are even political parties in Poland using such associations.

    Yep, Polish media have a long way to go.

  2. Hey nice blog you got here
    I am thinking about moving to Poland next year to teach English, and i am a lil bit on the black side too

    Is Poland still worth it taking into consideration all these factors?

  3. Joel,

    I was thinking of visiting Warszawa, Poland to see a friend that I met in my travels. I wanted to know how the Pols treat Americans (specifically Black)? Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank You

  4. Hi Joel.
    Its child's day here in Poland on the 1st June and my sons infants school is putting on a show. They're dress all the kids as black people. When we asked the why they said they thought it would be funny !!! When I told them that this was racist, they had a vacant look, thought about what i said for a long time and replied "It would be racist not to dress them up"
    I told them that our child is not going to go to school that day. All the neighbors think I'm crazy / overacting. If that happened in the UK the teacher would have been sacked from their job.

    1. Why is this racist? It's like boys wearing skirts or girls gluing up moustaches - a little childish maybe, but why racist?

    2. This is the funny part coz Poles never seem to get it when they are being racist! Ajuc I am guessing you are polish...

  5. Thanks Simon for writing this. Is there such a thing as unconscious racism? In this case, I think not. The issue was brought to their attention and still, the people in charge refused to see the light. Their position clearly has no foundation. The problem as I see it is that there are no repercussions for their actions. As an American, I cannot see this happening in the US. Of course, it probably does in some small, marrow-minded town. Nonetheless, I also could envision a tremendous consequence for such an action in the US. Here in Poland, it is pure ignorance. As the country grows, it will change. Hopefully, it will do so soon.

  6. Wow. I came across this blog while preparing for my upcoming trip to Poland on July 4 (ironic i'm "celebrating" freedom by leaving the country ... LOL). As a young Black woman visiting Poland, do you have any advice for me? This is my first time traveling abroad by myself so I'd appreciate any help.

  7. I'm from Poland and I'm really sorry for all those stupid people you have met here! I often feel ashamed about my country and people who do not respect others. But you must always remember that it's not about you or anyone who is black but about those people who's just too stupid to see a person not a skin colour. I hope you also met some people who do not care about it and want to meet you as a human.

  8. I remember this ad and since I am signed to a couple agencies I got emails and phone calls from ALL of them(very rarely) urging me to go for the casting. I was shocked! I told them I would never participate in something so racist and degrading!
    Funny part is in the casting call email it said that we (the blacks) should not take offense and just see it as a fun thing to do!!! So they knew!

  9. must be hard being a niggrow in Poland. Also great job smearing republicans.