Friday, February 25, 2011 should not have approved this message

By Shakerra Grays

This billboard reads: “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”

Since seeing a tweet of this billboard the other day, I’ve found it hard to get it off my mind. I find the statement inflammatory, irresponsible, offensive and shortsighted. Upon researching this organization, I found that was created by The Radiance Foundation, a pro-life/pro-adoption organization founded, run, and supported by African Americans.

This billboard (which is one of many) does nothing to communicate the organization's mission or to move it forward. As a marketer I understand that need to get immediate attention and the inclination to use shock value to break through the advertising clutter. However, this is a cheap trick to get attention. Is it worth it? I don’t think so.

I clipped this directly from

VISION: We seek to eliminate the destruction of Life by focusing on solutions that empower women, men and children (born and unborn).

MISSION: educates the public about abortion’s impact on the African-American community via accurate and documented statistics, historical perspectives, thought-provoking videos, and personal testimonies. We strongly encourage adoption and provide connections to local resources. Through speaking events and media campaigns, we expose the distortion and destruction of Planned Parenthood and its abortion advocates.

Fine. Fair enough. Pro-lifers have a right to their opinion. I’m also quite aware of Margaret Sanger’s views, eugenics, and the shady history of Planned Parenthood’s agenda for poor women of color. It is not my intention to debate the morality of abortion here. I am purely interested in the message.

I question what black woman would see this billboard and know that this organization seeks to help her. The statement on this billboard makes the mother the villain. It perpetuates the idea that black mothers are irresponsible, negligent, or somehow unable to responsibly carry a child, much less raise one. This billboard is judgmental and hurtful., you missed the mark here. And I suspect that in the process, you’ve alienated the very population that you seek to educate. should be more thoughtful about the messages they send out and be clearer about who they are. If they continue with messages like these, they will degrade their cause, erode their credibility, and be seen as part of the very problem that they seek to solve.

Shakerra Grays is a student in the Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University’s Medill School. Follow her tweets at


Danny said...

That's what I call - bad marketing. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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