NB: The image was found here.
The internet went crazy this weekend when Dove (you know, that company behind the real beauty campaign) released a gif that features a Black woman transforming into a white woman (who transforms into a presumably Asian? woman). If course, the social media brigade wasn’t having it, and rightfully so. Since the uproar, the ad has since been removed and Dove has issued an apology. You can read the details here.
Confession: I’m never surprised when something like this happens. When you study and consume media as much as I do, it’s a given that people behind advertising and media making are by and large, white (I mean this in a holistic sense). That, coupled with general ignorance about race in this country leads us to moments like this time and time again. Ads like this are not shocking. They’re old news, used to perpetuate and give permission to everyday racist practices.
Before you start probing me, let me be clear: (1) We do not live in a post-racial society. Race and racism still matter. (2) Until we fully understand and acknowledge the historical legacies of white supremacy which this country was founded on, we cannot even begin to entertain the idea of a post-racial society. (Yeah. You read that right. These legacies include the genocide of indigenous peoples, enslavement of people from Africa, colonial subjugation of basically every person who comes from places the west has colonized… I could go on, but let’s just start there.) (3) Companies can apologize all they want for the faux pas. For anyone who has worked in media, you know that these images are vetted heavily. That the ad would still make it to distribution illustrates my first two points. (4) We live in a world were capitalism reigns. Bad publicity is still publicity. I wouldn’t be surprised if the release of the ad was intentional, just for the hullaballoo of it all. (5) There is no moral code in a capitalist world.
Yeah. Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day, folks!
Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.
South San Francisco, CA