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“be a complete picture of the world, but they are a picture of a possible world to which we are adapted” (Lippmann 95). All of our habits, our tastes, comforts and joys have adjusted themselves to this picture in our mind. It is here where

“As graphic designers we can’t just shrug it off as the responsibility of the client and be absolved of our ties to harmful and derogatory imagery; we are its creators, after all, and have a heavy hand in whatever lasting message it may have.”

everything has its place and where people act accordingly. Disrupting that picture may seem like “an attack on the foundations of the universe” (Ewen 57). But what about positive stereotypes, some may ask. If the stereotype accentuates a positive aspect of a race, is it still wrong to use them? Verizon ran into this issue with its wireless TV spot in which a white kid walks into a Verizon store wearing a belt full of gadgets. He’s approached by an Asian salesman who appreciates his gear but offers the kid a smart phone that can do everything in one small package. The role here fits the “model minority” pattern of Asians presented as technological experts, mathematically gifted and intellectual. This portrayal also falls under the marketing concept called “match-up theory,” in which consumers are more comfortable viewing actors in roles they believe fit the product. Therefore, consumers expect Asians to have computer technical know-how, according to researchers (Fahri). It’s a far cry from the racist depictions of the past, but still manages to generalize a vastly diverse community that makes up nearly 6 percent of the US population (Fahri).


Think Before You Type | The Persistence and Evolution of Racial Stereotypes in Contemporary Design

Think Before You Type by Nancy Palm  
Think Before You Type by Nancy Palm  

Think Before You Type by Nancy Palm. 2012 Thesis