Fuck you Gap. Black girls are magic. Black Girls Matter. Black. Girls. Are. Magic.
I was minding my own business this weekend. Getting my home into some semblance of shape after having a new baby a few weeks ago. I was working pretty hard and felt I deserved a break. So I took one and as per usual logged into Facebook to see what was going on. To my shock and horror this is the fuckery that greeted me:
Your ad campaign aimed at making young girls see themselves as whatever they can dream of set little black girls up to be arm rests for adventurous white girls.
You suck and everyone who isn’t a racist asshole knows it.
I want to thank Fatima LaJuan Muse for bringing this troubling content to my attention. She breaks it down on her Facebook page so succinctly here. The Root has also done a piece on this here. They have said much of what needs to be said regarding this controversy in better ways than I ever could.
Instead, I want to talk about it in the way I talk about a lot of things around here. This is what lazy content looks like and we deserve better. Our girls deserve better.
This is what content looks like when there is no diversity behind the scenes. Without a black person and other non-black persons of color working in collaboration, with mostly white people, there is no one who can say, “this is inappropriate, people are going to feel a way about what is depicted here and I’ll tell you why”
Without that input we get this unedited, white person version of what (white) girls are capable of being – a dancer, gymnast, adventurer and what (black) girls are capable of being – A prop? Arm rest? Inanimate object? I’m not sure who this was supposed to inspire but in me it evokes something wholly maternal and viscous.
I want to snatch this baby girl out of this photo and tell her, she’s better than an armrest, she’s MAGIC!
As I’ve said so many times, representation matters. It matters how we see ourselves reflected in the pages of magazines, on TV and the big screen and (white) America has done a shit job of showing the depth and breadth of who we are as a wholly colorful civilization (see #oscarssowhite).
To flip through a magazine, channels on a television, or any movie trailer in the last 80+ years would lead any alien society to believe this earth is full of mostly dominant white people with a smattering of subservient brown people.
I’m not even exaggerating. According to a 2014 Women in Media Report, white people are cast in lead roles more than twice as often as people of color, and white film writers outnumber minority writers 3 to 1. In 17% of films, no black people had speaking parts.
So, ads like this just reinforce and validate this disparity with a giant exclamation mark thrown in for good measure. I can’t even begin to tell you what an image like this does to the mind of a young black girl, who will spend most of her life questioning her worth and her place in a world that consistently tries to deny her humanity. It is wholly degrading and wholly despicable.
If you are a smarty, and if you are reading my blog I know you are, you know what I am going to ask next – please boycott The Gap – please reach out to them through any means necessary and voice your outrage.
You can even write them a strongly worded letter the old fashioned way:
Gap Inc./Synchrony Bank
PO Box 965004
Orlando, FL 32896-5004
Put your power as a consumer to work and let The Gap know they fucked up and we aren’t having it!