Forming part of the Street Smart Campaign by insurance company Mapfre’s social progress foundation, Foundacion Mapfre, a series of road safety video advertisements were slammed for racism.
The videos depict a careless driver as black, with a lighter-skinned responsible family. The careless driver in blackface and textured hair was named Mr Careless. The Safe family were fair-skinned and strive to make good decisions on the road.
Black Lives Matter Malta said the fact that Mr Careless is visibly different from the other ‘responsible’ family continues to propagate the idea that ‘bad is black’. This is a term for the phenomenon wherein people are more likely to receive another to commit a crime if their skin tones are darker.
“BLM Malta also finds it necessary to stress the importance of recruiting people with diverse origins and backgrounds in positions where decisions are taken so that such unacceptable productions are challenged and prevented from being released.”
The African Media Association Malta also struck at the adverts, shaming them for portraying the most horrible form of racism.
“The white guys are the good ones, who drive well and careful on the road, while the Black ones are bad! White people drive well, and black people are a danger on the road, says the ad. The use of blackface was supposed to add fun to the ugly story. How is it possible?
In response, a spokesperson for Mapfre defended the campaign and described it as innocent. The reaction was also labelled as disproportionate. The focus, they said, is to create awareness about road safety measures.
“The videos were produced in a cartoonish way to appeal to a young audience and the fact that the faces were painted in yellow and grey were just to make it attractive. There was no intention whatsoever of portraying black people as being the bad ones.
The video was produced by Danusan and was commissioned by Malta Public Transport. A spokesperson by the organisation also defended the video. “It is clear that the characters in this educational video series are crash test dummies, and the actors’ faces are painted in yellow and grey paint.’
Source: MAPFRE Middlesea Youtube