Like a typical millennial, I checked my social media accounts before I even got out of bed and brushed my teeth, this Sunday morning. As I was doing my usual scroll through Facebook, I kept noticing all of these posts about needing to find a new body wash or people making something out of nothing in regards to Dove’s latest ad campaign.
With all that’s going on in America, I was honestly annoyed to hear that they were involved in a racially insensitive scandal because I love Dove soap. It’s good for my eczema. It doesn’t dry out my skin. And most importantly, I come out of the shower smelling good with skin as smooth as a baby’s butt every time I bathe with it. And now I have to find another soap because they chose to mess up.
After seeing the ads, my initial response was confusion because I know that an ad has to pass a large amount of eyes to be released on the web or aired on TV. And to know that both ads made the cut was appalling by itself. I was further confused by so many of my black family and friends who were legitimately upset and outraged that other black people had a problem with the ads. I didn’t know what to say or how to feel, if we’re being real.
Now that I’ve had a day to gather my thoughts on the subject I can tell you that I’m disappointed and irritated. I am disappointed because it seems like this kind of thing happens every other day, especially since 45 came into office. This is what they do now. Companies and public figures knowingly say or do the wrong thing, usually saying or doing something racist or sexist or LGBTQ-phobic, and then later retract the statement or action and assume that, by saying they’re sorry, it fixes it like we’re in kindergarten.
Newsflash folks, we ain’t in kindergarten.
A phony apology does nothing for me and it certainly won’t make me buy their products again. To know that Dove, a company who is known for campaigning on the back of diversity, “missed the mark,” proves to me that the diversity we see in ads is just a publicity stunt and an attempt to get people of color to purchase products. Companies realized that if they don’t have some kind of false portrayal of representation then they could be losing money. Therefore, they decided to slap a few black and brown women on the front to make us think that there has been significant change when behind the scenes there isn’t.
The standard of beauty has not deviated from the skinny white woman with blonde hair. The beauty industry is still the same as it was 10 years ago. Having a black woman or any other woman of color, on an ad is cool. But how many of them are actually sitting at the table with the CEOs, the creative directors and the leadership of these companies? Few, if any at all.
If there are no women of color in the room when decisions are made, then “accidents” like this will continue to happen. It’s past time that people of color, women, members of the LGBTQ community and other underrepresented groups get a seat at the table in all aspects of leadership. This goes beyond the beauty industry. We need people who share our interests in everything. We should’ve infiltrated the system a long time ago. And since we didn’t, we’re reaping the consequences of being on the sidelines while straight white men make all of the decisions.
Controversial and racially insensitive ads will unfortunately continue to be made and published until we, as a people, hit them where it hurts; or more people who share our views move into leadership positions and actually have some sort of say in what is distributed to the masses. I hate to think that we still live in a world where the incompetent and inconsiderate have the authority and means to continually blast their bigotry into the world.
I hate that some day I might have to explain to my little cousins or kids why an ad was created that insinuates that there is white underneath their brown skin. I hate that a household product that my family and friends use assumes that our black and brown skin can be magically washed away by using their product. I hate that there are people still out there who find my skin tone inferior. I hate that we even have to discuss issues like this around my dinner table.
But despite all of that, I will continue to find solace in the fact that my blackness shakes these white folks to their core. I will continue to find solace in my blackness being a threat to their unstable, false sense of reality. I will continue to find solace in the fact that the world is becoming more brown by the day. And I will continue to use my voice, my education, my blackness, and my future career as a means of destroying the false notion of white supremacy in a brown world.