The Racist We Keep Rich

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I just don’t understand how we as African Americans continuously support racist designers, but have the audacity to protest once social media gets involved. I honestly don’t care about who’s racist because you’ll truly never know until a scandal is amongst us. My issue falls into play when society goes into a brief frenzy because a company has shown their true colors and a week later, all is right with the world.

In January of last year, popular clothing brand, H&M launched an ad that showcased an African American child modeling a sweatshirt that read ‘Coolest Monkey In The Jungle’. Social media, of course, was in an uproar. H&M issued an apology. There were no reports of sale’s declining and society continued.

Sure we haven’t forgotten the infamous Dove ad that showcased various shades of skin tones, ranging from fair to chocolate brown. Or have we? The ad, a three-second GIF, featured three women, each removing their shirts to reveal the next. The issue was, the first model was an African American and the last was a Caucasian woman. The viewers interpreted it as the African American woman represented dirt and after using Dove soap, she’d be white which meant that she was clean. Dove issued an apology and as usual, all was now right with the world.

In recent news, Italian luxury brand, Gucci, is facing backlash after publishing an $890 sweater that resembles Blackface. The Caucasian model is sporting some sort of turtle neck sweater that rises to cover the nose. There is a mouth cut out with red fabric that resembles lips. As you’ve probably guessed, celebrities have called for a boycott. The sweater has since been removed from the Gucci website and Gucci, of course, has issued an apology. I wonder how long this one will last. Now, I don’t know about you, but the price alone would cause me to boycott.

Last and certainly not least, pop star, Katy Perry is following in Gucci’s footsteps. Just a week after Gucci’s scandal, Perry’s shoes were on trial. The design basically looked like Blackface on heels. The shoes were available for purchase in retailers such as Dillards and Walmart. The chains have since decided to remove the shoes from shelves.

I don’t know if I’m more upset at the consumers or the designers. All four situations have a common denominator which is marketing. I would like to know who exactly was in these meetings when these ads received the go ahead. Clearly, one individual saw the flaws previously listed. Maybe every one noticed and simply didn’t care. History has repeatedly proven, once you make a mistake, just issue an apology.

African Americans seem to feel once they become rich, they have to buy these lavish, overly priced products. With fame comes lack of dignity. I am positive that in a couple of months, African Americans will be back to supporting these known racists. Honestly, I can’t be too upset at the designers, however, I don’t think this disgusting cycle will ever end because society is too forgiving.

KaTrina Byther is a Senior Broadcasting/Mass Communications major. She will be a contributor to The Campus Chronicle for the Spring 2019 semester.