Is your white-washed all-male business in need of some diversity? Afraid you're looking a little too privileged for good PR? Enter Rent-A-Minority.com, a revolutionary new digital offering that promises to inject a last-minute minorities into your campaign or business brochure. There's plenty to choose from - like the "ethnically ambiguous" Arab or Mexican, the "smiling Muslim woman" or even the "intellectual black guy". If this all sounds far too un-PC for reals - then congratulations Sherlock, you've cracked the code. It's a joke.
Created by ad exec Arwa Mahdawi, who's also gay and of Palestinian-British heritage (you can see where this stemmed from), Rent-A-Minority is a spoof site aimed squarely at poking holes in token efforts at diversity. You know, the kind that's rife in large corporations, or media and advertising (something that Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing is also trying to tackle in his recent ad campaigns). In the darkly funny opener to the site, it satirises the problem like so:
"Rent-A-Minority is a revolutionary new service designed for those oh-s**t moments where you've realized your award show, corporate brochure, conference panel is entirely composed of white men. For, like, the fifth year in a row. Suddenly you're being called out on Twitter and you need to look not-racist and not-misogynist fast. Actually doing something meaningful to disrupt institutional inequality would be way too much work; so why not just Rent-A-Minority instead?"
Going on the list the four types of minorities: Ethnically Ambigious, Cheerful Woman of Colour ("Won't embarrass you by being 'an angry black woman'."), Smiling Muslim Woman and Intellectual Black Guy ("Good for tech conferences") the site is even hilariously vetted by such people as Donald Trump and Beryl (ahem, Meryl) Streep.
So far, so satirical - but what's the intent? Speaking to Dazed, Mahdawi explains that she's "been frustrated by the superficial way in which companies treat diversity for a long time." But it wasn't until a white male asked her "if being a brown female was an advantage in advertising" that she snapped to action. "It sort of underlined just how much of a problem tokenism is - it results in a sort of double discrimination," she explains. "Institutional inequality doesn't change and yet people think you got where you are because you're a minority."
In the same month where Beyoncé's rallying #BlackLivesMatter cry at the US Super Bowl got attacked by conservatives and the #OscarsSoWhite debate heats up, Rent-A-Minority is an interesting assessment of where we currently sit on racial issues. And as with so many other social issues, satire has a way of unveiling some uncomfortable truths.