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Wednesday, January 30, 2013


That is a tough question. Claiming racism or that someone is a racist is probably one of the easiest ways to attempt to discredit someone. I have had the term thrown at me by people that don't like their baggage being exposed. But the response can sometimes be as damaging as the initial allegation. Or is it best to just ignore it.

I got the perfect response in my e-mail tonight.

Apparently Volkswagen has put together a Superbowl ad depicting a white man using a West Indian accent .

You can view the advertisement here. After you click on the link, the video will appear to the right above the red Beetle.

Here is the response from the Institute for Caribbean Studies to the claims of Racism. Please read the response and see if it makes sense to you. Sometimes we need to lighten up. Actions that are truly meant to hurt and tear down ones heritage can never be allowed. But not everything is done with malice.

No Problem, Man!

Washington DC & Los Angeles, CA -
There has been recent criticisms of a preview ad being aired by Volkswagen of America for the 2013 Super Bowl. In response to the recent media brouhaha over the VW ad and allegations that the commercial is racist, the following is a statement from Dr. Claire Nelson, architect of the campaign to designate June as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month.

This is the official position of ICS and the Caribbean Heritage Organization (CHO).
ICS and CHO commend Volkswagen and its ad agency for its recognition of the global impact of Jamaican culture, through its use of a Jamaican accent in its Get In. Get Happy Campaign!
"As members of the Caribbean diaspora, and Jamaican, we find the commercial, amusing and indeed a fascinating example of subtlety in subliminal messaging. In one fell swoop, the ad directors have superimposed Jamaicans' reputation for being hardworking (the three jobs archetype) as well as our reputation for having a laid-back, positive, don't-worry-about-a-thing disposition through the character of the Volkswagen. And yes, the accent in the commercial is not perfect, but it certainly is recognizable.
What we DO find problematic and bordering on offensive are the mostly non-Jamaican critics, who contend that the commercial is racist, with some going as far as saying that it's like putting a Black face on a White or Asian person. We hasten to assure the viewing public, that being Jamaican, just like being American, is a nationality and not a race.
Any one of the actors featured in the commercial could be a native Jamaican. Yes, most Jamaicans are of African ancestry (that is to say Black), but Jamaica also is home to a significant mixed-race and diverse racial population. Jamaicans are East Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern and European (that is to say White). A true reflection of the Jamaican National Motto, 'Out of Many One People.'
As Chair of the National Caribbean-American Heritage Month commemorative celebrations in June, ICS congratulates Deutsch LA and Volkswagen on recognizing the Caribbean impact on American culture and making this a teachable moment to educate America and the rest of the world on the history and culture of Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean.
We invite everyone to "Get In and Get Happy. No Problem, Man!"

Tweet your support for the VW ad with the hastag #ICS #GetInGetHappy
Post to VW Facebook your support for VW Super Bowl ad.

Please visit and for more information on Celebrating June as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month.
About Institute of Caribbean Studies

The Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) is a non-partisan, non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. Established in 1993, ICS is dedicated to education, advocacy and action on issues that impact on Caribbean Americans.The Institute provides a forum for the public and private sector, the non-government organization community, scholars and others interested in promoting a dialogue and to assist in the execution of actions that result from that dialogue.
About Caribbean Heritage Organization

The Caribbean Heritage Organization is a 501 (c) (3) organization with a goal to chronicle the experiences of the expatriated Caribbean people, showcase and educate in the different aspects of Caribbean arts and culture in and outside the region, conserve and celebrate the rich and diverse contributions of the Caribbean and its people to the international society and support and nurture existing and emerging creative talent in the Caribbean through academic scholarships, mentorship and promotion of Caribbean films and filmmakers, theater and dance.



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