Is a pro-Romney ad racist? Five questions to ask yourself

Our Index of Racist Potential measures the degree that a political ad has the potential to evoke – consciously or unconsciously – voters’ stereotypical attitudes about people of color, regardless of the intent of the candidate or campaign team. To determine whether a political ad this presidential election season would score on the higher end (more racist) of our index, ask yourself these five sets of questions.

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3. Are all the people surrounding a Romney white?

If there are other people in the ad besides Mitt Romney, are they all white? Having people surrounding a candidate in a political ad sends the message that those people are whom the candidate ostensibly represents. Featuring an all-white cast of supporters alongside a white candidate makes an inherent critical contrast. It says that “we” whites, represented by Mitt Romney, are different than “those” people.

In a two-and-a-half minute ad Romney ran last month he spoke at length about “Americans,” about how “we” are tired. He talked about “all of the thousands of good and decent Americans” who “love America.” Yet of the dozens of images included in the epic ad, every single person is white, making the association clear: “We” “good and decent” Americans who “love America” look like the folks featured in this ad.

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