OUTRAGE: Black basketball player on college promotions deemed racist

Harcum College’s new ads feature a black man in a suit holding a basketball.

The controversial ad is part of a suite of new ads from the college.

A professor from Howard University School of Divinity decried the ads on Twitter over the weekend.

A Pennsylvania college’s new ad campaign which features a black man in a suit holding a basketball was deemed racist over the weekend.

Nyasha Junior, an Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at the Howard University School of Divinity, took to Twitter to express her distaste over Harcum College’s new ads which are plastered on 23 buses in Philadelphia. The ads, which ask “Headed in the Right Direction?”, also feature a woman in scrubs and a stethoscope.

Others weighed in on Twitter that the ad is a “lazy and insensitive form of advertising insinuating Black [sic] men excel in athletics above all other fields.”

In a statement on Saturday, Harcum defended the ads, saying it was “proud” of its “diverse student body.”

Forty-two percent of the Harcum student body is African-American.

“Our advertising regularly portrays a variety of male and female students in different majors and with different ethnic backgrounds,” a Harcum administrator told Campus Reform in an email. “The one image of a student with a basketball is a tribute to and a promotion of our sports management major and our basketball team that went to the NJCAA [National Junior College Athletic Association] Final Four championships last year.”

Gale Martin, Director of Communications for Harcum, told Campus Reform on Monday that the contested ad is part of a suite of ads promoting the college on SEPTA, Pennsylvania's public transportation system.

Martin shared with Campus Reform other advertisements running in the 2014 Main Line Chamber of Commerce Directory and in Metro, which is Philadelphia’s largest paper in terms of circulation. The ads feature both men and women of different racial backgrounds, sans sporting equipment.


On Twitter, Harcum requested a phone call with Junior to discuss the ads, but she declined, demanding a public statement instead.

“I think that Harcum College should be more careful given the negative stereotypes of African-American men as excelling in athletics but not in academics,” Junior told Campus Reform.

Martin said that student leaders at Harcum are meeting to discuss the ads and their implications.

Harcum is a two-year independent school located in Bryn Mawr, Pa., outside of Philadelphia. Around 1,700 students attend Harcum from seven states and eight countries, according to its website.

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