Updated: Jun 9, 2019
What a great start to Black History Month. We’re here again, where brands fail to understand what they’re doing until it’s too late. Do they not understand, or are they aware of the stunts they pull, but continue with it because they know it will create a buzz on social media and know that they'll face no real repercussions.
What do the remaining seventeen days have in store?
Gucci An Italian brand, was founded in a country known for racism against black people and other ethnic minorities. So we're not surprised that this design made it through pre-production stages and ended up in Gucci stores and on their website. With a bit of common sense, this should have never happened.
Here's some history on blackface, it was first introduced as a performance tradition in America in 1830 and grew in popularity due to The Black & White Minstrel Show. Caricatures feature black skin created by greasepaint or black shoe polish, exaggerated big lips, wooly hair and raggedy clothes pandering to the racist stereotypes of black people. To top that off, there's also golliwogs used to decorate any and everything. From cartoons, banks, branding and packaging to post cards and appearing in children's books.
When Gucci finally realised their error, they released a lousy apology talking about "we are fully committed to increasing diversity through our organisation," which sounds like the excuse brands have instilled into staff when they fall into the path of racism. If there was an ounce of diversity at Gucci in the first place this design, in this particular colour, wouldn't have made it past the first draft.
Gucci need to do better, there's no excuse for it.
Adidas' error wasn't as extreme as Gucci, but it was definitely disrespectful. We don't know what it is, but plenty of brands are lacking common sense. For the Adidas 2019 BHM collection each sneaker was in a colourway inspired by the Harlem Renaissance, the insoles also feature a CBC logo for "Celebrating Black History." So how an all white Ultra Boost was added to this collection we're still unsure of. Is this down to a lack of diversity in the staff at Adidas, ignorance or both?
Another instance of blackface, Gucci should have learned from Prada who got ripped for their blackface accessories back in 2018.
Dolce and Gabbana
Chopsticks and pizza? Chopsticks and spaghetti? Chopsticks and cannoli. The racism jumped out.
Dolce & Gabbana released a statement claiming that their Instagram account had been hacked. Stefano Gabanna, one half of Dolce & Gabbana, Instagram DMs were leaked revealing how he actually felt.
For those interested, here's the video:
Moral of the story, when it comes to these types of issues that trigger black outrage and outrage in general, it's time to stop buying their products and hit them where it hurts. How the Chinese dealt with D&G is commendable and needs to happen every single time stunts like this are pulled. We know everyone wants to share or retweet what's going on to raise awareness, but that essentially only benefits the brand. Doing nothing, makes it seem as if everything is fine, when it isn't.
Brands need to do better, if you think something that you produce is going to be controversial or offensive; don't do it.
Moving on, here's to a better second half of Black History Month to all of our readers celebrating it. This will also be the first and final time we speak on such a topic.
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Cover image: Gucci
Music: Kendrick Lamar - Alright