Samsung probably wasn't trying to be offensive, but they succeeded anyway

Samsung ad implies phone thieves are all from Mattapan

Bos IT Guy was among the people wondering what Samsung was thinking with these ads that went up in South Station yesterday.

Or as Tory Bullock puts it:

When I tell people that everyone thinks if you're black and live in Mattapan, Dorchester, or Roxbury that it's assumed you're a criminal, they never believe me. They look at me like I'm crazy. Then you go to South Station and see a lovely new piece of marketing. Can you hear me now?!

Ed. note: This is probably reason 412 why New York ad firms should really hire a local to review any ads aimed at locals, because any Bostonian would have been able to tell them in 5 seconds this was a bad idea.

UPDATE: Samsung apologizes; ads taken down.



Free tagging: 



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When you pay an ad agency to make a localized ad...

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...for a major city... and they manage to do something this offensive... which they totally should've checked and been able to predict even if they weren't familiar with the area... on a very sensitive brand (massive company, and main competition in this prized space is Apple)... how many billions of dollars in malpractice insurance to they carry?

Some Apple fanboy should take this national, and explain what it means. Right after I short Samsung stock.

Who are the ignorant fucks

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Who are the ignorant fucks who thought up this "marketing" statement? Tear it down immediately. Where else is it appearing?

And the stereotype of

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And the stereotype of Charlestown people all being bank robbers? I never hear complaints there. Probably because they're not looking to make issue of things that don't matter.
By the way, many people consider Mattapan Station to be the end of the Red Line, even though the Mattapan trolley is actually a wing of the Green Line.

I've never heard that about

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I've never heard that about Charlestown before. I have, however, heard a lot about the orange line, Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, etc.

Orange Line

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Oh, ya, it's a horrible situation down there. OK, sure, I ride it to and from Forest Hills at least a couple times a week, and have for years, and I've never been mugged or threatened or anything, but it's only a matter of time, right?

You heard what happened to the work trucks downtown?

Two work trucks, parked downtown all week.

NH plates and "Hillary for Jail" and pro-Trump stickers.

You heard what happened, right?







Just like the last time I saw someone on the Orange Line with a MAGA hat. Everyone just minded their own business. Some side eye, but nothing more.

Melodramatic victimization is the stock in trade of fascism.

Orange line

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When I moved to Boston 25 years ago to an orange line neighborhood I was told over and over again I couldn't live there, "people get killed on the orange line." Hasn't happened yet, and I came from a neighborhood in Brooklyn where bodies were often found in dumpsters on the street. All good in Boston. Lets keep working to end race stereotypes!


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Relax, Adam, I think the person you're responding to is talking about the fact that the stereotype exists, not the reality.


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"Probably because they're not looking to make issue of things that don't matter." Addressing stereotypes about black people is kind of a big deal, no? Obviously it matters.

I disagreed

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I would have to disagree because some of the Charlestown people look at bank robbery as a badge of honor rite of passage how it is in Charlestown being a townie

by the way I did say SOME

however contrast people in Mattapan Roxbury Dorchester and other areas being stereotyped as the criminal element of Boston is disgusting degrading and disrespectful resentful and hurtful.

If the tommies want that type of reputation they're welcome to keep that but I know a lot of Tony's who despise bankruptcy and that reputation.

You know

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I think you are watching entirely too many Ben Affleck movies.


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That seems to be the consensus of MBTA riders.

Who are probably smarter than drivers,but still ...

When you are a minority

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What people think is a matter of life and death.

Go contemplate your privilege ... oh, wait ... you don't know how to think.

Thanks for whitesplaining

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Thanks for whitesplaining

Never had a problem in Mattapan. Had lots of shit stolen in Charlestown.

I am clutching my pearls....

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As a white Mattapan resident, i am offended by some comments here. There are plenty of white and Hispanic criminals in Mattapan too!

(i've also never had a problem, although the DRIVERS down here, that is a different story....)

Should have said "Ashmont" or "Braintree"

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That implies that you are a ditz and left it on the train, not that it was stolen. To get to Mattapan, a human would need to transport it.

Better yet: lost and found is at DTX, no?


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And that's why I'm thinking somebody sitting in a cube farm in New York called up a T map and saw "Mattapan" at the opposite end of the Red Line from Alewife and thought it would be clever to pair the two, and didn't realize what that odd-looking blobby thing at Ashmont means.


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Is Ashmont acceptable, but Mattapan isn't?


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Ashmont and Braintree are places that your phone could go without human assistance - i.e. you left it on the train.

You do know that those are the ends of the line, right?


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Could you not have boarded a trolley at Mattapan, left your phone, transferred to the Red Line at Ashmont on your journey to Alewife....all while your phone ends up back in Mattapan?

Use a different line

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If they were trying to suggest that you left your phone on the train accidentally (rather than it was stolen), they should have said Riverside or Oak Square.

It's more conceivable that you forgot to take the phone with you when you transferred than you put your phone on a train on the same line heading in the opposite direction.

It's hard to see what they were thinking here.

I was going to say the same

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I was going to say the same thing. How in the heck did my bag get on the train by itself going in the wrong direction unless someone picked it up and made off with it?

I came into this with an open mind and I still don't think the Samsung people meant any harm by it but their lack of critical thinking is not helping their case with this at all. Logically it just doesn't make sense. It still would not make sense but I think it would be funnier if they said you were going to Braintree but your bag was going to Ashmont?

Red line trains just go back and forth

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The reason Ashmont or Braintree makes more sense is because after people debark at Alewife, then train the travels back down the Red Line and ultimately goes to either Braintree or Ashmont. If you leave your phone on the train and no one disturbs it, it will end up traveling to one of these two stations.

It makes more sense than using a station on another line, which implies either the commuter transferred lines or the phone was stolen. And Ashmont would have been the best choice, because alliteration is always marketing gold. :p


Mattapan has a trolley. It runs from Ashmont to Mattapan Square. And Samsung very much means to say that the phone is stolen. The Knox system is designed to show whether a phone was tampered with.

That's so great you know what

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That's so great you know what Samsung is thinking. Now how about the ad agency that came up with this idea? What were they thinking? Clearly this was a mistake and they've rectified it. How many blacks here were offended by this? How many whites were offended by this? Come on, show of hands please! Thanks for telling the world that this black man is so easily offended you arogant bitch.

is Alewife a zip code?

No, it's not. Is it a neighborhood? Also, no. Nobody says I live in Alewife. They say north cambridge near Alewife or near Arlington line.

It seems they would have said Mattapan Square, if they were describing stations at the opposite end of the redline.

I agree it was a mistake. But like you, the mistake was letting their prejudiced assumptions slip out.

live in Alewife

Some people may now say that, as residential buildings have opened on the west side of Route 16 near the station, and now along Route 2 as well.

End of the line

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You get off the subway at Ashmont and get in the "high speed" line, the end of which is Mattapan. Some consider that the end of the Red Line. Stop looking for racism behind every corner. Is it ok when we see Irish depicted as drunks every St. Patrick's Day? The endless jokes about Italian-Americans and the mafia? The open jokes about bank robbers from Charlestown? Why are those stereotypes always given a pass?

I know, right?

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The blacks are always whining about racism. And don't no one try to turn the tables on me, I have a black friend.

Here's to saying what we feel, everyone else be damned!

The luck of the Irish and Ctown Townies Bankkkers

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Look some people in both areas look at that reputation as a badge of honor part of the history people in the other areas did not do not
Want those reputations I'm sure there are people in all these areas do not like any of the reputations but we must call it out because of perception and we all know perception is 99% of life


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Basically your speaking on something you don't understand. Even in your own statement you realize that you would have to GET OFF the Ashmont train and GET ON the high speed line to Mattapan which is an urban area. It very well could be a mistake but for all the money that Samsung makes it should have been more carefully researched. At the end of the day, the ad comes off as racist even though that may not have been the intent. Logically if your phone was going to Mattapan that means someone is in possession of it (i.e. stolen). I like Samsung but this ad is not okay.

If this offends you, then you

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If this offends you, then you are hypersensitive snowflake. Did your college have a safe zone? Did you get participation trophy growing up playing soccer? I bet you throw a holiday party, not Christmas party, every year. Please stop whining and complaining so much. Thanks

Superior Parrots

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Don't implicate parrots in such idiocies. My parrot is much more intelligent than this poster. She would never call anyone a "hypersensitive snowflake", and would bite me if I did.

If this doesn't offend you

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You need to go back to sixth grade and start the whole "learning to act like a civilized human being" thing over.

Nah, who am I kidding. You probably never left high school.

You'd be the first to be whining if they said "Southie".

Red Line

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A Google image search of Red Line maps includes the trolleys south of Ashmont as the "Mattapan High Speed Line" Perhaps the marketing team just took the northern point (Alewife) and the southern point (Mattapan) for this ad.

That seems likely

but someone else in the advertising agency, or the company whose ad it was, or South Station building management, or the MBTA, should have stopped it before it ever reached the station wall.

Why? Does the ad violate MBTA policy?

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Oh wait- some geniuses have decided that the ad perpetuates a racial stereotype because it mentions a specific neighborhood.

Glad all the REAL problems facing people of ALL races have been solved so we can focus attention on NON-ISSUES like reading way too much into something as dumb and insignificant as a stupid ad campaign.


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They watch all those movies about white gangbangers in Boston and talk about PRIDE!

I grew up here

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And i've had a gun pulled on me twice, care to guess what neighborhood.

It's not racist, people build opinions based on experiences.

My condolences, but ...

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Something tells me you're not an ad copywriter sitting at a fancy desk in New York City making possibly innocent but still obnoxious mistakes that are offensive to the vast majority of people in whichever neighborhood it was who did not point a gun at you.

who are you to decide what's offensive?

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Do you live in Mattapan? Have their been massive protests by Mattapan residents saying they're offended, or have you decided for that them that this is something they should be offended by?

You know when massive protests happen?

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When people like you go all out to resist understanding what the world is really like for people who lack your privilege.

It shouldn't get to that point. People like you need to grow up.

But why do you get to decide

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But why do you get to decide for this black man what is offensive or not? Yeah this ad is offensive but it was clearly a mistake by an ad agency that is unfamiliar with the city. Again, get over yourself. White snowflake! I'm not a victim and don't need you to stand up for me.

nobody is standing up for you.

This is an online forum and there are no qualifications for expressing an opinion on the subject. Even Tory Bullock is only pointing out an example of his personal daily experience. I can acknowledge that his interpretation is real without presuming to stand up for him. Only you are assuming that everyone offended by this, is trying to speak for you. All the things people joke (or whine) about that keeps Boston from being a world class city, but racism is actually what holds us back.

its not innocent

This person did not pick Mattapan out of a hat. And there is a bigger problem. Mattapan has been ignored by the city for a long time. Mattapan is a great place with great people. They deserve more than just stopping people from making racist smears, they need the crime that does exist to be stopped.

Dorchester's similar problem is covered up by the fact that it is so huge, so that while a lot of money and attention can be spent there, certain areas continue to be ignored.

And if you think about it, perhaps Samsung can help us with this. I personally know 3 families that are crime victims, and aren't being protected as witnesses. How do we expect things to change if we don't support people willing to report crimes and testify against the perpetrators.

Oh! Look!

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A white person says IT ISN'T RACISM.

We need permission from white people to call racism what it is because WAHHHH.

Get this girl: it is MUCH WORSE to EXPERIENCE racism than to have it pointed out to you.


Frankly, if the phone didn't

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Frankly, if the phone didn't want to get stolen, it shouldn't have been designed to be so stealable. It's really the phone's fault. But yes, the ad is still racist.

Well actually,

Apple and Samsung could easily design the phone
1. to only work for the owner
2. Report the the theft.
3. Send pictures, video, audio and location info to the owner

But they want these companies would rather you buy a new phone. Never mind that that victims get injured and or frightened, who cares when you can make money.

Everything has to be about race these days, eh?

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Non native bostonian here. I read that as simply "you left your goddamn phone on the train. shit's safe because of this feature." not sure why everyone has to jump right to a skewed racist view on things.

Because we live in a culture

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Because we live in a culture where people are looking for something to be outraged and offended by... Remember the 2017 eclipse a few weeks ago? Oh yah, the eclipse was deemed racist because it crossed over more 'red states' then 'blue states.'

The New School(private school in NYC) recently deemed auditorium seats to be a micro-aggression because they are "too small for some people."

That's nice, dear

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Let me guess: you are white and don't want to hear about it.

I'm sorry that you are so incapable of empathy that you make racism into "your problem" rather than "your duty" to eliminate.

Must be really nice being so special that you are offended by grownups attempting to be decent human beings because you simply aren't up to being a decent human being. That's a real disability.

Making stuff up again?

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Racist Eclipse?

You are a real piece of work, aren't you.

Passive voice when "noting" that "this happened" or "was deemed" won't save you from having to CITE YOUR SOURCES.

Ugh. Loser.

Well Well

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If it isn't Mr. Washington Times and Breitbart and Clownhall and The Daily Caller.

Ever hear of the words "in context"? No?

Well well, if it isn't

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Well well, if it isn't another progressive ranting about right-wing media. I'm shocked you didn't throw in "Faux News." That's boiler plate stuff.

are you that lazy intellectually devoid, the best you can do is call someone "Mr.(insert right wing news site)?"


...but there's tricks around that, " comes a giant round shadow, drawing a line either to cut the country in two or to unite it as one. Ancient peoples watched total eclipses with awe and often dread, seeing in the darkness omens of doom. The Great American Eclipse may or may not tell us anything about our future, but its peculiar path could remind us of something about our past..."

Or, you know...not. It's a fucking eclipse, nothing more. I think the Onion is jealous of the story quite frankly.

Well, well...

"If it isn't Mr. Washington Times and Breitbart and Clownhall and The Daily Caller."

Just call me "Mr. Atlantic."

Rolls Eyes

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Such trolling.

Too bad Geller and Bratbard don't print their media - I'm sure people in Houston need toilet paper.

Everything OK at home?

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Who was calling the eclipse racist?

Yes, the Globe did a silly story about how the eclipse was going to pass over more Trump counties than Clinton counties, but even in these New Middle Ages in which we find ourselves, nobody was accusing the universe of being racist for that fact.

Environmental Racism is Quite Real

Since you have no grasp of quantitative analysis and statistical inference, I won't bother explaining it to you.

Suffice it to say that shitty shit gets dumped on poor people, and then there is a doubling down of shitty shit.

See also "Houston explosions".

Marketing blunder, pure and simple

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I suspect this is a marketing thing that someone somewhere came up with who is completely unfamiliar with Boston or the politics thereof, and the location names were chosen either at random or by distance from each other. Why is anybody surprised? None of these decisions, from T station design to real estate monikers ("SoBo", "SoWa") are made by anybody actually from around here, and certainly not by anybody who uses the T. Besides, a company like Samsung looking to maximize profit and sell a product or service is not going to risk deliberately alienating any part of it's market, or just plain getting bad publicity, by using blatantly racist or offensive advertising and appearing politically incorrect. I mean, come on, people. I realize it's terribly awkward and should be removed, but stop being snowflakes.

You need to grow up

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Unlike that high school your mind still lives in, the real world expects adult behavior.

Adult behavior includes having the maturity to consider how other people might feel about things.

Obviously, that's higher level stuff for you - maybe you need to grow up?

Can you imagine the OMG RACISM shit if they said Charlestown or Southie?


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Because West Rox isn't predominantly African-American, and isn't the subject of frequent slurs on that account.

Any other elementary-school-level questions we can help you out with today?

there's another sign that mentions Greenbush

Two signs were taken down, but about 30 more remain, with a variety of other "lost phone" scenarios. None of the other ones mention specific stations, except for one with Greenbush and another with Back Bay.

Does it matter

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What place would be acceptable

Yeah, but

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they could probably crack the Knox technology in a heartbeat.

Samsung was NOT trying to be offensive

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And this ad isn't offensive either. Who cares what some idiot's perception of Mattapan is? Mattapan is a great place to live with mostly very nice, quiet, suburban streets of well maintained, single family homes. Yes, there are some high crime neighborhoods, but by and large, it's one of Boston's best kept secrets. You know why there are rarely homes for sale in Mattapan? Because people don't want to leave. And you liberals, keep your race based outrage to yourselves. Mattapan is a diverse neighborhood in many ways and not just in terms of race. And black people don't need you to protect them. I love Mattapan.

I'm curious

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What exactly would it take to offend you?

And you might want to check up on Tory Bullock, whose comments I pointed to in my original post. Unlike an anonymous person posting a comment on an article, we know what race he is and where he's really coming from.

There is nothing outrageous

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There is nothing outrageous about the ad so therefore, there is no reason to be outraged. Some ad dweeb saw 2 ends of The Red Line and that's all. Had they switched the locations, would you be "outraged"? I'll answer that for you. No you wouldn't. Stop trying to keep black people down. If you were offended, you are overly sensitive, a rascist, or both. What is it? Have you even been to Mattapan? Had you been, you'd know how nice it is and wouldn't be poisoning us with your negative perceptions of the neighborhood and the fine folks who live here. Again, black people don't need you to protect them with your faux liberal outrage over a benign ad on the T.

Looking at the comments here,

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Looking at the comments here, maybe the agency did run it past a local or three, and had the bad luck to ask someone who wasn't offended personally, and someone else who said "they're just oversensitive, we don't need to cater to people's feelings" or "there's no such thing as bad publicity."

They needed someone to tell the copywriter "look, maybe you didn't mean to be racist, but if we run this ad, your intentions won't matter. This ad won't sell the software. At best, it will make them wonder if we're racist. At worst, it will convince them the customer is. Either way, that's not what we get paid for."

So Fragile

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I really need someone to explain to me why people are up in arms about whether someone else with a different life experience than them finds something offensive.

It's a marketing campaign, and a pretty bad one at that. People who have historically and actively experienced institutional racism and personal bigotry have a right to call something out that's wrong. The fact that you don't notice it speaks to your cloistered experience. The fact that you don't care, or worse don't think other people should care, speaks to your willingness to perpetuate the same racism and bigotry.

Not all offense is equal

I really need someone to explain to me why people are up in arms about whether someone else with a different life experience than them finds something offensive.

I only get up in arms when someone asserts that they have some sort of inherent right to a world free of things that offend them. Or that it's incumbent upon anyone else to rid the world of things that offend them.

There's a world of difference between, on the one hand, someone who says, "This ad offends me, because it depicts an African American as a shucking, jiving, watermelon-eating idiot." and, on the other, someone who says "That ad offends me because it shows a family owning a dog, and I'm offended by the concept of pet ownership." In both cases, the response ought to be the same: Don't buy the product, complain about the ad, and spread the word to your friends. The difference is that the former is widely offensive to large numbers of people, while the latter is only offensive to a minuscule number of people.

Advertisers don't, in general, want to offend, but every ad out there is going to offend somebody.

I'm not offended

And I believe 99.9 percent of people who saw that ad weren't either. This is a perfect example of faux outrage. Looking for something to be offended about is a new sport


Really? First of all, you have no idea which race I am and second of all you're over doing it just a little bit. Racism exists but it sure as hell isn't in that advertisement. Samsung sat around thinking of how to slip a little covert racism in an ad trying to sell phones? They looked at a map and saw two ends of a train line...period.
If a persons take on that ad is a slight to black people who may live in Mattapan, then that is on them not on Samsung. We don't need people crying racism over every little thing when there are real examples of it we can address.

A lot of people don't seem to

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A lot of people don't seem to realize that it's possible to be racist without intending to be racist. One could argue that it's worse to be intentionally racist, but that doesn't make it okay to be unintentionally racist either. When the latter happens, you apologize, learn from your mistake, and try not to do it again.

No it's not

it's possible to be racist without intending to be racist.

No it's not. Racism is a consciously held belief system regarding the superiority or inferiority of one or another race. It's impossible to unintentionally hold a belief system.

I think what you are pointing out is that it is possible to play into or perpetuate a negative racial stereotype without intending to do so, or to use language associated with racism and therefore offensive without intending to offend. For example, I knew someone, quite a bit older than me, who grew up thinking that "Chink" was the surname of the nice family that ran the popular Chinese restaurant in his neighborhood (people around him referred to it as "the chinks' place"). He was completely mortified to find out that it was an offensive slur, and was ashamed to have been using the term all along to refer to that family. To call this guy "racist", or to say that he "had been racist without intending to be so" would be wrong: he did not hold any racist beliefs either before or after learning about the offensiveness of the term.


No. Conscious AND unconscious racism are both racism. Intent doesn't matter when racism is so deeply programmed into a society, like it is deeply programmed into ours.

I grew up with a lot of unconscious bullshit running around my head as a result of cultural programming. I have worked to undo the worst of it, but it is still there in my head whether I like it or not. That doesn't excuse perpetuating it - it means that, as a responsible adult, I have work to do.

Bullshit like "conscious" is a huge part of the problem - that nonsense leads people to believe that being called out on their unthinking racism is much worse than the racism itself, because "I never heard of that" or "I don't believe that". It makes racism the problem of the victim, not the perpetrator.

I suppose that the drunk that didn't mean to kill someone should just get a pass? Mmmmkay.

Tripe cop-out, dude. You don't get off from having to do the hard work of watching your own bad self so easily!

Neither conscious nor unconscious

The guy in question did not have either a conscious nor an unconscious belief in the inferiority of Chinese people. He didn't have any negative stereotypes about Chinese people. He had no unconscious bullshit running around his head other than a mistaken belief that "chink" was a surname and not a slur.

I suppose that the drunk that didn't mean to kill someone should just get a pass? Mmmmkay.

Not even close, as analogies go. The drunk actually did damage.

Tripe cop-out, dude. You don't get off from having to do the hard work of watching your own bad self so easily!

I'm fully aware of cultural programming and unconscious racism, and of the need to watch for it in myself. The "alewife / mattapan" ad copy was not an example of that.

systematic racism

You can participate in racism without realizing that the that a situation is set up to favor one ethnic group over another. that's the problem with systematic racism, you can't just stop being an asshole, as with regular racism.

As I said, I don't believe this person picked "Mattapan" out of a hat. I haven't seen those other signs. that would be helpful.

Crime is one of the environmental factors that play into systematic racism.

What do you think the chances are...

... that anyone in the entire chain of command responsible for this ad, from the person who wrote the text, to the creative director, to the account manager, to the account exec, to the client(Samsung), has any idea what or where Alewife and Mattapan are, or what sort of demographic either represents, or of any stereotypes associated with either of them? I'd be astounded if anybody's knowledge went beyond "opposite ends of the same subway line"

[Of course, a better ad team would have checked as to whether either of these locations have any connotations or associations, but that kind of homework is expensive. It's the kind of oversight that caused Chevrolet to try to market the "Chevy Nova" in Spanish-speaking countries without changing its name.]

Dont read too much into this

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The point is, if your phone is left on the train, the data will be safe. Are people really so thin skinned that they will freak out if their neighborhood is mentioned as the end stop of a train that it's meant to reflect poorly on the people who live there?