I came across this image at the Field Negro, where he declared this advertisement is not racist. He was more concerned with the fact that he thought that the model needed a good meal. The disciplining of womens bodies will be dealt with on another post.
This advertisement was supposedly created to sell a watch and yet the image used has no real connection with the item in question. Every single time there is a depiction of a black woman nurturing a white child, it instantly brings to mind the concept of mammy or the nursemaid. The fact that black woman in the above ad is topless helps cement the construction in my mind. If they were not trying to draw on this construction, the woman would have been clothed. You will note that she is also virtually faceless because what really counts is the white baby.
The bodies of black women are only deemed relevant as far as they can be made to serve whiteness and this advertisement firmly sticks to this script. “It’s about the time in our life” the words say, but when we consider that some lives are deemed more valuable than others this ad can hardly be deemed innocent. None of us lives outside of history. Each act, or thought is built upon previously acquired knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation. While in some cases we might decry outright acts of racism, the everyday actions of many daily affirm the right to perform what are deemed inconsequential behaviours that serve to mark people of color as less than.
This ad screams Mammy/Nursemaid and yet most will see it as an innocuous little plug for an over priced watch; it is the Black woman that will have to deal with the consequences of the diminishment. Much of racism today is performed in a covert manner yet the effect is the same; a hierarchy of bodies persists to typify our social make up. It is not a matter of looking specifically to discover the racism in our everyday lives but acknowledging that racist constructions exist in all things because we have invested in a culture of dissonance.