Stop Putting Dancing Black People in Ads

How we portray Black people informs our unconscious thoughts

Jeffrey Kass
ZORA
Published in
4 min readMar 30, 2023

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Image: Shutterstock/Peopleimages.com — Yuri A.

It’s true. Advertising nowadays does a much better job of featuring a wide variety of people than it did a couple of decades ago. Black. Asian. Latino. Interracial couples. You name it.

In fact, the diversity in ads has some people fuming that Black people are now disproportionately represented in commercials. It’s a result of that damn “woke” crap, they complain.

Now, it’s no surprise that these same people never complained when white folks were disproportionately the only ones featured. Go figure.

Today Black people represent 12% of the U.S. population but are featured in some 40% of television ads.

In the U.K., Black people are less than 3% of the population but are in 37% of the commercials.

I’m not so worried that companies are finally featuring more people of color. Or that they want to target new markets they may have ignored in the past. Or that they want to correct their past wrongs. It’s not like anything bad is going to happen to white folks because we now see a lot of interracial couples on the screen.

There’s another good reason why diversity is front and center, and it’s financial. Over 60% of consumers say that a brand’s diversity or lack thereof impacts their perception of it, according to a 2019 Adobe survey. Over a third of people say they stopped supporting a brand because they didn’t see anyone like themselves in advertising.

For much of advertising history, Black people rarely saw themselves in commercials. While that obviously changed, it’s not just about the numbers.

How Black people are represented in advertising media also matters.

It may come as a surprise, but even today Black people are far too often featured as dancing and entertaining us in television commercials.

It wouldn’t be a big deal if it were once in a while, but companies habitually portray Black men and women as here for our entertainment.

Two decades ago, The Howard University Journal of Communication noted the pervasive problem with Black people being featured as dancers, entertainers…

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Jeffrey Kass
ZORA
Writer for

A Medium Top Writer on Racism, Diversity, Education, History and Parenting | Speaker | Award-Winning Author | Latest Book: Black Batwoman V. White Jesus | Dad