A recent Gap Ad has received a lot of criticism for being racist. Currently it is a trending topic on Facebook and I’ve just been skimming comments to see what people had to say about. Not surprisingly I see a lot of people saying things like “What’s the big deal?” “It’s just a pose, it’s not THAT serious!” “How is this racist, people make a big deal out of NOTHING”. And that kind of bothers me so I decided to share my issue with the Gap Ad. If you have not seen the ad or specific picture in question here it is:
Now for me personally, when I first saw the ad the first thing that went through my head was: “why is she leaning on her head?” *side eye* and moved past it. Yes, it bothered me, no I didn’t get too upset. Why? Because this is something I see so often I feel that I’ve been conditioned to it. These types of ads are all over the place. Me personally I just kept it moving. But I’m not surprised to see that so many people criticized Gap for it and that Gap has apologized. I applaud those people who said something because it does need to be addressed and let me tell you why it’s an issue for me:
IT MATTERS A GREAT DEAL.
I’m so tired of seeing black girls or black women in ads looking like props or “tokens” just for the company to be able to say they are diverse. It’s gotten annoying. Sure this may be just ONE ad to some people-but to me (as a black woman) it is something that I have seen time and time again. The issue is bigger than just this ONE ad. It’s a continued pattern that black women are underrepresented in the media. And then when we are present-we really aren’t. We are either props (like a headrest!), there’s usually only one of us, and then usually the black girl’s skin has been whitewashed to blend in with her white peers. Don’t even get me started on the lack of kinky hair women either-nope. It’s annoooooooooooooooooying to say the least. If you think this is something that is exaggerated I went ahead and found some other ads:
Notice anything in particular about these? Maybe you don’t. But I can tell you from my perspective as a black woman, the first thing I see when I look at these ads is THESE WOMEN ARE NOT ME. The little light skin kids with curly hair-that’s not my dark-skinned kinky hair niece. When black girls look on television, TV shows, commercials, billboards we are constantly left out.
So excuse the hell out of us for being tired of it.
But, back to the Gap ad. No, I don’t think Gap is racist for the ad. I don’t think whoever posed those kids in the manner set out to intentionally embarrass the black kid. It probably didn’t even register in their mind that this was an issue. Why would it be an issue when this is something that has been done countless time and time again? So if you don’t see anything wrong with this ad, then good for you. But that doesn’t mean you have the right to tell anyone else that just because they have an issue with it, that they are wrong.
We have to admit that we are in a highly energized society right now when it comes to racial issues. Of course, not everything is racist, or meant to be racist. People do things simply because they have been conditioned and they don’t see it as an issue. How do we become conditioned to these feelings-well that’s a whole different topic itself. But let me just show you an example. Below are some additional accidental ads or mishaps. Let me know if you see anything wrong with them:
At first glance, you might think “no, what’s the big deal?”. I might have thought that too and of course I’m not the first person to point these out. But if you don’t see the issue with any of them let me help: 1. Notice the black doll is $3 and the white one is over $2 more? 2. 3 versions of Microsoft shown: the black image representing the lowest, the white image representing the average, and the Asian representing advanced. 3: The hair product for the black customer is packaged in an anti theft box-while the white one is not. 4: The black mom is shown by herself (hinting towards black single motherhood) while the white parents are both shown in theirs.
Again, these are just examples of advertising and how it can send subliminal messages. These are just examples given to show how one AD isn’t what has everyone upset-it’s just the latest example of how blacks are underrepresented in the media.
I’ll go ahead and post another image from Gap’s ad because they did have more than one:
Kudos to the little black girl. We see you. Shine on.
To Gap, and all other marketers-take note and pay attention. Black people aren’t the only group of people that are left out of media. There needs to be more representation of trans people, people with handicaps, and other races/nationalities as a whole. Yes there has been progress but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a long way to go.