A Professional’s View on Racism in Advertising

Feb 15th, 1997 | By | Category: 8-4: Racism
By Marjane Ambler

Many of you are familiar with the work of Michael Gray, perhaps without knowing it. Since Fall 1995, Michael has been designing the Tribal College Journal. He makes the editor and the writers look good. It’s his work that encourages you to tear off the dust jacket to see the new cover. When you delve into the article content, it’s Michael’s subtle hand that has enticed you.

His firm, Gray & Gray Advertising, Marketing and Design, is located in Albuquerque. For several years, he has designedAmerican Indian College Fund annual reports, brochures, and now the AICF home page, as well as other publications for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. Blackfeet and Chippewa-Cree from Montana, he comes from a family of prominent educators, including his father,Gerald Gray Sr., and his uncle. Harold Gray.

Other clients of his firm have included the National Indian Business Association, Native Americans in Philanthropy, the City of Albuquerque, and Laguna Pueblo. Michael was previously the publication coordinator for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. He has won many national awards in design including 2 from the Native American Journalist Association.

Michael has also addressed national audiences with his talks on “Multi- Culturalism in Advertising.” For example, an ad in the national publication, Print, says, “Having conquered Miami, the AIGA sets its sights on Seattle.” The designer, David Carson, used an illustration by the Spanish artist Vieyra depicting a man in a headdress and a woman clothed only in a necklace and some strategically draped material.

Speaking of his colleagues—art directors, designers, illustrators, and artists—Gray doesn’t believe they intend to promote racism. However, he believes the misrepresentations result from a lack of education about and understanding of American Indians. In addition to his talks and articles, he calls designers individually, urging them to consult with “real” American Indians about the use of imagery or symbols representing them.

We are pleased to announce the release of Tribal College Student, a 24 page publication of tribal college students’ poetry, essays, and shor^stories. The publication is important for the students and for those who support the colleges.

The breath and blood of tribal college students flow through the pages. They write about the joyful anguish of childbirth, the pain of racism, the cost of alcoholism, and the simple pleasures of hanging laundry. Between the lines, they convey how tribal colleges have transformed their lives.

Students look forward to this publication because it speaks to them, unlike student magazines elsewhere that focus upon high fashion, fraternities, and football. They can identify with other students with similar backgrounds. Some career counselors use it to encourage students whose responsibilities as parents and scholars seem overwhelming.

For copies send $3.50 plus .50 postage to TCJ, P.O. Box 720, Mancos CO 81328. Marjane Ambler, editor.

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