The NAACP, self-consciousness, and the Image Awards

J. Pharoah Doss
J. Pharoah Doss

Sprite had an ad campaign, its slogan:  Image is nothing, obey your thirst, a refreshing and rehabilitating slogan for an image conscious society that once made Black America self-conscious of image.
Remnants of this self-consciousness exist in the acronym NAACP. (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).  Its founders, in 1909, chose the term colored instead of the common term Negro, colored was more respectable.
One founder, W.E.B. Dubois, was concerned about what he termed double consciousness.  He wrote the Negro, “Feels his two-ness—An American; a Negro…two warring ideals…the history of the Negro is this strife…to merge his double self into a better and truer self.”  This merger was just as important to the founders as overturning separate but equal laws.
It’s no coincidence the NAACP’s first nationwide protest was against D.W. Griffith’s silent film The Birth of a Nation, a film that glamorized the Klu Klux Klan and portrayed Black men as incompetent fiends after White women.  Their attempt to ban the film was unsuccessful.  But for the NAACP image wasn’t nothing, it was an obstacle to overcome.

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