Sabrina Ford

In a Green Mood

A young, beautiful, ambiguously ethnic woman frolics through green acres. She is one with nature. Her rich and creamy voice spews poetry with the inflection and drawl characteristic of spoken word.

No, she isn’t the newest Disney princess. She is just a conscious sister feeding her “green mood” with McDonald’s Premium Salads.

Mickey D’s advertisements have been colorful for quite some time. The first black character I remember seeing in a McDonald's commercial was Calvin. A good-looking, clean-cut kid with an after school job, Calvin made the whole neighborhood proud. As he passed kids playing and old ladies on the stoop they greeted Calvin with warm smiles. Calvin was the pride of his black community – an employed teenager, a good kid, not some clown hanging on the corner.

In more recent years the McDonald's ads targeting blacks have incorporated more hip-hop culture than family and community. They’ve also relied on the star power of black celebrities like Destiny’s Child and Venus and Serena Williams. McDonald’s 365Black campaign is supposed to celebrate black history all days of the year, not just during February.

If McDonald’s respects us black folk so much, then why is that I cringe every time one of their black commercials come on? Why do they make me feel cheap and exploited? Why would I never want one of these commercials to come on at a time when I was watching television with a white colleague?

Two years ago, with the introduction of McDonald’s Premium Salads, McDonald’s introduced an ad campaign targeting women – the most memorable of which, were the commercials featuring black women. Sistahs talking to sistahs was the approach these ads took. One sistah almost convinced me that it was the best way to spend some me-time when she told me I owe it to myself to indulge in a Premium Salad.

It’s nothing new. McDonald’s markets their chemically-engineered goodies to black people using people who look like us and sound and act like they think we sound and act. But, this latest exploit – this bootleg spoken word – is just an outrage.

I mean, what the hell is a “green mood” and why would someone “feed” it with McDonald’s if she were in such a mood ? What is so “premium” about a salad that includes fried, processed chicken?

Spoken word poetry has traditionally been political, subversive, and substantive. How dare McDonald’s use it to peddle poison! For me, using spoken word to sell McDonald’s is the equivalent of a once highly successful and respectable female MC appearing on VH1’s The Surreal Life. Oh wait, that did happen – but it was just as wrong.

And I don’t believe for one second that the members of Destiny’s Child or the Williams’ sisters eat McDonald’s on a regular basis. If you are going to use our culture as an attempt to speak to black people, please do so with respect. And never, ever again use spoken word to sell your crappy salads.

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