So God made a black farmer too. [Video]

black-farmer …And on the 3rd Day of February, between gliding leather bullets and human collisions; amidst frantic cheers and tears under the annual ritual we call the Super Bowl; God saw fit to allow the airing of a 2-minute TV commercial; One that tugged the hearts of armchair America, a Dodge Ram spot that paid homage to the caretakers of our land: So God Made a Farmer.

The commercial eloquently captured the blood, sweat and toil of this dying breed who faithfully provide sustenance to America’s families. And yes, I was riveted by the still photography and stirring 35 year old delivery of legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey. But as I sat mesmerized, I waited to see an image that spoke to my heritage. What flashed before me were close-ups of stoic white men whose faces drowned out the obligatory medium shots of a minority token or two; Their images minimized against the amber waves of grain.

God made a Black farmer too. Where was my Grandpa, Grandma and Great Granny? My Auntie and Uncle Bolden? And didn’t God make Hispanic and Native American farmers? They too were under-represented.

I am the offspring of a century and a half of African-American caretakers of the land, from Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, who experienced their toils and troubles, their sun ups and sun downs. Their injustices and beat-downs.   I wrestled with my mixed emotions; loving the commercial and feeling dejected at the same time. Come to find out. It is not an original concept at all, but a direct rip from the Farms.com website. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Farmer isn’t original, but the execution is still stunning, so much so, you can easily miss the whitewash. Minimizing positive Black imagery and accomplishments is as American as wrestling cattle. We’re often footnotes or accessories in history books, TV shows, movies and magazines as well as TV commercials. When content is exceptional, the omission is harder to recognize or criticize. Some friends of mine saw – or rather felt – the omission as I did. Others did not. I say be aware and vocal about how you are represented – if represented at all, otherwise your importance and relevance  will be lost.

What do you think of the Farmer spot?

23 comments

  1. tobicm

    Amen. and Amen. I too come from a long line of country farmers and field produce sellers. Mine is a heritage of understanding pig logic and chicken scratch. I too sing FARM. You MUST submit this to the big tent.

  2. TJae

    Great commentary! I felt the same way after viewing this commercial during the SB. So they copied farmers.com? Not surprised. Most agencies are loathe to create an original thought these days. That’s for so eloquintly stating what many of us felt about this commercial.

  3. Kushite Prince

    Yeah it was a pretty good commercial. It was very moving. They could have showed a few more black farmers. But of course they are going to show more white farmers. We all know that black helped build this country with 300 years of free labor. I think if they showed too many black farmers it may remind them of this fact.

  4. Edwina

    I come from a long line of farmers too. Louisiana and Mississippi. And I resented the spot as well. I counted almost 20 actual images of ‘farmers’ and my farming grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts and uncles, my mother and my father born and raised on farms, were represented by only one image. Out of 20.

    I just can’t imagine the lack of thought from whomever produced this spot. It astounds me.

    • eldhughes

      I am surprised that so many people of color that I talked to feel the same way as I do. Many times we keep our thoughts and feelings to ourselves thinking we sound too sensitive. Will we be judged for feeling this way? Eh, I don’t care. This is my truth and yours. It deserves to be heard.

      • Fred Bridges

        And then, God made the slavers, who brought the darkies, to clear the land and plow the fields and plant the seed and hoe the cotton, and pick the harvest in the fields from sun up to sun down, and then THEY milked the cows and took care of the other animals, and the slavers children…and when slavery was over, they worked for room and board and little else as share croppers, and no, Black farmers are not represented here because some embarassing truths might need to be told…I’m just saying.

  5. Mama Marlaine

    Edye you are a Rock Star! Half stories distort truth and rob all of us of our true heritage. United we stand, divided we fall, and the price we ALL pay for failing to stand tall as stewards of this blessed planet grows ever steeper. Loving arms linked make small the problems of our world and I am honored and privileged to link arms with you. Hugs!

  6. Nina Montgomery

    I also saw and was deeply moved by this commercial, although they could have added black faces as well as native Indians and hispanic who all had a hand in the farming of this great land we have all walked on and all cultivated.

  7. Son of the Morning Light

    Well, it’s an ad for a truck, not a documentary, so I’m not sure what the big deal is about underrepresentation of minorities. If only one in twenty pictures were of a black farmer, is that demographically wrong? I’m not American, so it’s not a rhetorical question.

    Also @Fred Bridges, how is slavery relevant to this ad? I don’t think Dodge was building trucks in the days of slavery, so why should that be mentioned?

    • eldhughes

      Thank you for your comment. You’re right, it’s not a documentary. It just plays like one on TV. “Farmer” is a commercial, pure and simple. But in America, imagery and inclusion matters in all forms of media– at least the minorities who call America home feel this way. Imagery in the media is a big deal because people of color are often represented negatively or not at all. These images make a lasting impact on the viewer. It doesn’t really matter the number of farmers in America. Certainly whites make up the majority. But Blacks and other minorities’ contributions to the farming experience are just as significant and should be treated that way in whatever medium. Heck, Dodge could have sold an extra truck or two because of it.

  8. Txx

    It’s a truck ad. Period. Dodge was savvy to put it out there during a time when farmers are doing well, because they want. to. sell. trucks. I’m not sure we should be reading so much into it.

    • eldhughes

      From the response of many who have commented on this post via LinkedIn groups, Facebook and such I would beg to differ. There is not much to read into. No fine print, no between the lines messages; just an imbalanced representation of minority farmers in an iconic spot that’s meant to be a tribute as much as a selling vehicle (no pun intended). I don’t expect everyone to feel this way, especially if they can’t relate to being excluded. But I do appreciate differences of opinion. Thanks for sharing yours.

  9. Charlotte

    Edye I loved this post and I think it’s one of your BEST BLOGS. It’s even going VIRAL. I’ve seen it shared by others in different groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. My uncles were Ranchers, my Grandnother rented out her land for local farmers and ranchers. I remember going to see the hogs fed in the summers we stayed with her as kids. My parents had huge gardens when they retired. Thanks for making me remember all this through your writing. By the way I’m African-American. I appreciate your work, and your passion to keep us VISIBLE in the MEDIA as a people!

  10. chicksmedia

    Edye I loved this post and I think it’s one of your BEST BLOGS. It’s even getting VIRAL. I’ve seen it shared by others in different groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. My Black Uncles were Ranchers, my Grandmother rented out her land for local Black Farmers and Ranchers. I remember going to see the hogs fed in the summers that we stayed with her as kids. My parents had huge gardens when they retired. Thanks for making me remember all this through your writing. I appreciate your work and your passion. Thanks for keeping us VISIBLE even when the media doesn’t.

  11. Patti Schimpf

    I was also moved by the ad, and am the granddaughter of two sets of farmers. And I know that it’s not just the MEN who are farmers, but the WOMEN too who work just as hard with their own set of chores to maintain a family farm. Where were they? I even made my own tribute, rewriting the words of “Farmer” and called it “So God Made a Farmer’s Wife” as a tribute to my grandmothers. Nice job of bringing attention to an unrecognized part of history!

    • eldhughes

      Good point made, Patty. I had included women in my post but took it out after seeing about three or so females in the spot. But certainly you felt they were underrepresented as well. I totally understand. The women in my family were farmers too as I had mentioned in my post. I think this might have been an effort to preserve the classic iconic image of the farmer as the traditional white male, and many people will defend that image at all costs.

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  13. nathalie heywood

    Very interesting points you bring up. However, in light of the hype about the VW ad aired for the Superbowl – and the subsequent response that it was not offensive. I wonder if we are being oversensitive? I mean of all the commercials that ran, was the farmer ad really so lacking as to need commentary about not being inclusive? I felt included – I got a black man and a woman. Demographically a win-win according to the cenus.

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  15. Skip Bennett

    I agree with Nathalie. I think most black folk have a farm background going back 3 generations. That is true for my family. We would drive to the “country” in Uniontown AL from B’ham. once a year, where one of my great uncles owned a huge spread. But my granddad & uncles could not wait to get to the bright lights of the big city when they were grown. Farming was (is?) 24/7 work — very hard work. Of course it also builds character :-). Once somebody had the courage to leave home, they didn’t boomerang. Not only that but they acted like recruiters, bragging about the good pay and benefits, and typical weekends off. I don’t mean to glamarize the jobs available to blacks in the steel mills & foundries in Bham. It was hard work & those were Jim Crow times. Yet most of us have advanced on the backs of these relatives. Finally, I think if most of us responded to the question, “What jobs most frequently are held by blacks?”, farming would unlikely make the top 20. Just saying….:-) Thanks Edye for your blog.

    • eldhughes

      Great comments from you and others who contributed. I think many blacks were moved by the spot one way or another. One thing it did do for me is make me remember where I came from and how that history is important in shaping my present. I vow to pass that along in a significant way to my sons and their offspring.

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