Kmart back-to-school ads generate backlash

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A new Kmart back-to-school commercial has been creating backlash for the superstore, with some viewers calling them racist.

In the newest ad, Da Rich Kidzz, a group of young rappers ages 10-13, teamed up with Kmart to make a hip-hop video about riding the bus and back-to-school shopping.

The Minneapolis natives are part of an after-school program called Beats and Rhymes, an after-school program at a Minneapolis YMCA.  Participants in the program have the opportunity to create hip-hop music and videos with access to a professional music studio.

Beats and Rhymes co-founder Matt Kjorstad and a 7th grade artist Dameon Jones joined MSNBC’s Craig Melvin earlier this summer to talk about the program.

A lot of our young people love hip-hop, love music. This is a chance for young people, like Dame, to get into the studio and work with incredible staff everyday.

The song that Da Rich Kidzz perform for Kmart was written by them.  The group can be seen in the video rapping on a school bus, playground and in a school.

While the three minute song showcases the talents of black youth, some critics are saying it poorly portrays African-American children as “gangsters” and “thugs.”

One comment on Kmart’s YouTube song by the user djokawari read:

This commercial sets black people back about 100 years. This black criminal subculture that has become mainstream is the worst thing for the black people.

Another commentator, Dyverse, said:

I love this so creative.

Justusfive1 said:

how are people mad because of a commercial i swear people have no lives atleast their talking about school an not not drugs,guns,a**, an loads of money their talking about clothes for school an a damn bus i swear people are never satisfied smdh

TheGrio’s managing editor, Joy Ann Reid, joined Thomas Roberts on MSNBC to discus Kmart’s re-branding strategy.

“I don’t think this ad goes to far, in the sense that those aren’t thugs ,” Reid said. “Those kids are wearing button-up shirts and glasses and rapping about going to school and opening their locker.”

Kmart released another ad featuring children on a playground telling “Yo Mama” jokes with a twist.

“It’s really aimed at sort of making Kmart acceptable to kids,” Reid said about Kmart’s new ads.

“I think that portraying these kids, they’re very normal, look that is not thug language, that’s the way kids talk,” Reid said. “And I think there is a cultural and generational divide that a commenter in their thirties is appalled by this, but you know what? That’s how kids talk, white, black, Hispanic. Hip-hop culture is the mainstream culture.”

Watch the newest commercial below and tell us what you think in the comments:

Follow Carrie Healey on Twitter @CarrieHeals.