Nov 072002
Authors: Andrew Whelan

The next time you pass a covered bus stop in Fort Collins notice the advertisements. You’ll see realtors, local businesses and even reporters from that other city paper. Seems like they’ll take anyone’s money.

Outdoor Promotions, which is contracted by Transfort to review posters, does deny some ads. Such was the case when the Aggie Theatre tried to promote a Nov. 15 appearance of Blackalicious, a hip hop duo.

The Aggie’s graphic artist submitted a poster with an image of a black child with one hand on a turntable and the other on a mixer. The city refused to run the ad.

The Aggie quickly offered alternative designs. They suggested different image (featuring a black man) or a picture of the two rappers (both black men). Again, the city refused these designs.

An Outdoor Promotions employee explained that the city was sensitive to racial concerns and thought the ad could be misinterpreted. They would not allow an ad with the word “Blackaliscious” and a picture of black people.

I don’t understand the concern about the images. Take a look for yourself at

Did the company think these ads promoted eating people of color? Did they believe the ads promoted stereotypes? Was it sheer ignorant about the group and its message?

Later, representatives claimed the ad violated a city policy requiring ads to be relevant to all citizens. The city didn’t want to promote an “adult-only” cause. What about ads for nursing homes?

This story demonstrates a lack of understanding. No matter the concern, the city forgot why they review ads: to avoid inappropriate messages, such as those with racist content.

Denying this innocent ad was misplaced discretion, an example of a noble city policy misused in a manner detrimental to the same people it should protect.

Bottom line, they refused to sell space to promote people of color. They denied advertisements depicting a Black child. They did not understand the term Blackaliscious or the picture.

Even if the city was being careful with a precarious message, there is a more troubling facet of this story. The city had the truth within its grasp. If they are so concerned with justice then why didn’t they delve deeper into the issue? They could have listened to a CD or clicked on the group’s website. If this was a racist message, they would have seen signs of hate.

In fact, Blackaliscious is two conscious artists using positive poetry to tell stories. The image of the black child is from the Blackaliscious album “Nia,” meaning purpose. The word Blackaliscious blends black and delicious, which sounds like a good name to me.

They thought this ad would be misinterpreted, but I doubt they correctly interpreted it. They did not want to risk incoming phone calls or complaints since they would not know how to explain the ad.

The effects of the poster could have been determined with a little thought. Hip-hop fans would have recognized the poster. The average person would have discerned it was a concert from the time, ticket and location information. One soccer mom might have misunderstood and complained that the message was violent, racist or inappropriate. However, if the city did their homework then they could have explained the ad. But their too busy looking out for our well-being, putting tantalizing pictures of artery-clogging Big Macs throughout Fort Fun.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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