16 April 2009

Mercedes-Benz Telling the Future

Having moved more times than I care to remember, I am always amazed by the curious things I've managed to hang on to. Random postcards, clippings, rocks, candle holders . . . you get the idea. Some of the clippings are collected in a small file folder that travels with me from place to place, giving me a sense of permanence and a tangible past in whatever new surroundings I may find myself.

So it was this sense of stamping my new place with some sort of "This space belongs to Inez" that led me to go to the folder once again.* It was there that I found an ad I had torn out of a magazine in the early 1990s:

Der zukünftige Präsident der Vereinigten Staaten?

It was a pull-out ad that unfolds into a poster. The images were a series of of children and questions about what they might grow up to be. The image above was the centerfold and the question is, "Future President of the United States?"

I remember laughing when I saw it, with a kind of "as if" attitude, but then on closer inspection being deeply moved on many levels. That this child is so precious and tugged at my heartstrings is probably clear. Beyond that, however, lies the fact that as recently as last year, I would never in my wildest dreams have imagined that I would live to see a black president of the United States, much less as far back as the early 1990s. So this ad became a symbol of America's failure to live up to its potential; and for black children whose dreams were restricted by the world in which they live.

Happily, it has now has become a symbol for something else entirely and I think it's about time I put it in a frame.

If all their subsequent ads have been crap I haven't noticed and don't care. Mercedes-Benz gets a life-pass from me for this one. Well done!

*I had skipped this ritual on Bürknerstraße, as if I knew when I moved in that I wouldn't be staying.