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At What Point Can We Call Targeted Marketing of Unhealthy Food Racist?

I’m going to get straight to the point for a minute. 

At first glance this may seem like a kind of extreme or weird question. We can’t just walk around calling everything racist. And when the word “racism” is applied loosely to everything it loses its power.

But racism can be defined as a system or systems that affect certain groups of people in a negative way based on their racial or ethnic background. So suppose a company says, “Let’s target more advertising of high calorie, fatty foods and sugary drinks at Black teenagers than any other racial or ethnic group even though we know that they suffer from health problems like obesity and diabetes”

Can we call that racist? Not yet? Why or Why not?

Suppose a company says, “Let’s make sure that stores in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods are a flooded with fast food products and sugary drinks significantly more than in other communities what would you call it?”

Can we call that racist? No? What’s your opinion?

Suppose that a group of black teenagers tell a company that they are tired of seeing rappers and athletes selling them every unhealthy product available and that they would like a to see those same people selling them healthy foods and beverages instead. And suppose that in response this company said, “We believe that our profits are more important than the specific health needs of your community. Black teenagers are first and foremost a source of money for us. Therefore we will continue focusing more marketing on them than on white teenagers.  Getting their money is our problem. Their health declining health is their problem.”

Can we call that racist?  What would you call it?

Maybe it’s too extreme to call these things racist but maybe we can ask one question - if you are spending hundreds of millions to sell sugar water and fast food to us and then turn around a throw a few dollars to support events and programs  in our communities what does that mean? Do we have smoke and mirrors here?

Let us know what you think and what should be done.  


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