Relax white people – we should respect farmers, but no need to steal thunder from marginalized and underappreciated Latinos.
First thing’s first – hats off to the Richards Group and Chrysler for putting together a gem of an ad. It is masterfully crafted and manages to be simultaneously understated and in your face. And Paul Harvey’s words really are remarkable. Unfortunately, the ad is a warped distortion of the country we currently live in.
There are 35 photographs used in the commercial. Twenty one of them have people in them, of which 16 have some visual indication suggesting race/ethnicity (the rest are either zoomed out or show pictures of hands only). Of the 16, there is one black guy, and anywhere between one and three with Latinos. Now normally, a commercial with a bunch of white people doesn’t bother me. In many ways, white is still the “normal” and it’s not surprising that companies want to take the safest route in terms of marketing. But I draw the line at farming. Nearly 80% of farmers in the US are of Hispanic/Latino heritage. When it comes to crop workers, the figure is 83%. It’s like making a commercial about basketball in America and showing only white players.
If this commercial was your introduction to farming in America, you’d get the impression that most of it is carried out by white people. And that’s exactly the message that the commercial was trying to convey, because thinking about themselves as farmers makes many white people feel good. This desire to appropriate the identity of the yeoman farmer has deep roots in American history and goes back to the discord between Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians. America pretends to be an agrarian society long after we all moved to the cities.
It’s not often that we directly praise the hard work, dedication and thanklessness of agricultural labor at the national level. Unfortunately, Chrysler’s Super Bowl commercial did so by highlighting a completely whitewashed version of the American farmer. So, on behalf of my country, and in many cases, our country, allow me to say thank you Jesus.