Observation: Interracial couples on television ads

I’m not a social scientist, so I’m going out on a limb with my own anecdotal, subjective observations in this post.

The Black Lives Matter demonstrations were big news last year. Even some of the BLM protests here in Rochester made the national news shows. Amidst all of the racial tensions last year, I noticed something that defied those tensions. Maybe you did, too.

I’m not a huge television watcher – mostly news and sports when I do watch – but I have noticed the growing trend of television commercials featuring interracial couples, specifically White and Black characters.* This is noticeable to me because I grew up in an era – the 1960s – when such commercials would have been unthinkable. So what’s with these companies that are using interracial couples in their marketing campaigns? Are they part of some sort of cooperative social engineering effort by American “elites” to promote harmony and ease racial tensions? Hardly. An article I found on the topic quoted a marketing professor who said the ads, “attract the broad base of customers whose values align with those portrayed through these ads—inclusion and diversity.” Got it. Viewers who value “inclusion and diversity” and who see a commercial featuring an interracial couple are – consciously or subconsciously – apt to have a favorable view of the product and company, according to the marketing strategy.

In the 1960s, just seeing a Black person on a television sitcom was a novelty. Bigotry was still very blatant and accepted at that time. As another example, Governor George Wallace of Alabama, an unabashed segregationist, campaigned for President in 1964 and again in 1968 and received a surprising amount of support. Interracial dating and marriage were definitely not socially acceptable in the 60s and 70s. I can vividly remember riding in the car with my step-father-in-law around 1975 and passing a Black-White couple walking down the sidewalk. My step-father-in-law had an absolute hissy fit. Many conservative evangelical and fundamental Baptist churches (especially in the South) preached against interracial dating and marriage in those days. Yes they did. Pastors presented Scripture verses purported to show that God disapproved of the mixing of races. As one extreme example, Bob Jones University did not lift its ban on interracial dating until 2017.

While the New Testament doesn’t directly address interracial dating or marriage one way or the other, I can’t imagine Jesus Christ approving of segregationist policies/traditions/customs and forbidding interracial marriages. BTW, today’s DNA test kits are showing that we have a lot more ethnic and racial variety than our grandparents would have been comfortable acknowledging.

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” – Colossians 3:11

It’s regrettable that we still have to deal with race issues. Prejudice still exists. And there are also those who stoke racial tensions for their own benefit. At the foot of the cross we are all sinners in need of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Above: In this 1956 booklet, John R. Rice, a former leader of of the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement, recommended the perpetuation of racial segregation.

*I’ve noticed (my subjective observation) that in the majority of these commercials featuring interracial couples, the male is Caucasian and the female is Black. Perhaps that is the marketers’ pragmatic concession to lingering objections to a Caucasian woman being in a relationship with a Black man?

Does God frown upon interracial marriages?

44 thoughts on “Observation: Interracial couples on television ads

  1. I worked as an IT instructor in the City Hall in Pittsburgh for a month about six years ago where the people of color have a substantial representation and it was quite a learning experience. The tension and the “them/we” mentality was shocking to me. Here in Nova Scotia, there are far less people of color but it is increasing and the historical background of what they endured is nothing to be proud of. There will always be people who hold prejudices, on both sides of the equation actually, but it need not be so. Short story is that people are people and color really makes no difference at all. One of our daughters (single – long story), has a black child, she is two and a half years old and just the most beautiful child you’ve ever seen. I’m her Papa and I love her with all of my heart. It scares me at times, what people can do to one another and it is so so wrong. Deep wounds that still fester and it is sad. Never underestimate how blind some people can be because it far exceeds what we presume. Thanks for this post Tom, insightful and thought provoking as per usual. Blessings brother.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have noticed that, too. (*Another thing that I have really noticed lately is the single fathers in the detergent ads-but that’s a different topic all together.)

    I agree with the words you wrote when you said “ At the foot of the cross we are all sinners in need of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
    Also this scripture came to mind:
    :❤️ Galatians 3:28
    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    Liked by 3 people

  3. To answer your very last question, it’s probably because there’s an idea of “white women taking all the good men,” which is an almost verbatim quote from the movie Save the Last Dance (2001) that dealt with interracial issues. Mind you, that movie is 20 years old, so I don’t know if that sentiment still exists. Companies want to seem woke, while still walking on eggshells.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I know from histories I’ve read that some of the segregationist hatred was driven by the desire to “protect our (white) women” and I imagine some of that sentiment still exists.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That might also be the case. I would add that I don’t think the majority of the US thinks that way.

        It’s like when Hollywood whines that there aren’t more black leads in movies… but THEY are the ones making the movies, casting the actors. Same for these commercials. I think they just want to seem woke, but ultimately just care about selling products.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow: ” Bob Jones University did not lift its ban on interracial dating until 2017.” That was not that long ago.
    It seems where I live interracial marriage is more and more plentiful. Society being ok with this today is something I have been privileged to be born the time I’m at. Its crazy to see the picture of Rice’s book on segregation. What a different time that was. I’m no progressive but man…I don’t know if I would be comfortable to live decades ago

    Liked by 1 person

      1. After I read and review John R. Rice’s booklet defending segragation, the next book I want to read about Baptists is a biography of J. Frank Norris, Rice’s controversial mentor.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I read that later in life George Wallace became a born again Christian and repented of his intense racism. It seems from the articles I’ve read that his repentance was genuine.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post Tom. Where did these pastors get the supposedly Bible verses to show that God disapproved of the mixing of races? As far as I know the Bible recognizes only one “race”, the human race.
    The Apostle Paul warns Christians not to be bound together, as in marriage, with non-believers, 2 Corinthians‬ ‭6:14‬, but this has nothing to do with “race.”
    As you well said prejudice still exists .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I stopped watching television in 2011. So I don’t keep up with any of today’s advertising. My mom is white and my dad is an immigrant from Guatemala 🇬🇹 (Hispanic/Latino) On my mom’s side of the family I have a 2nd cousin (a white woman) who recently married a black man 4 years ago. I attended their wedding.

    Liked by 1 person

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