It seems to be that there are many different definitions of the word racist, or what is deemed to be racist. For the purpose of this post I will use the definition provided by wordnet.princeton.edu. According to them a racist is “a person with a prejudiced belief that one racial group is superior to others” or it can mean discriminatory behaviour on the basis of race or religion. But it seems to me we’ve forgotten the actual meaning of what a racist is, if we take into consideration some the things that have been accused of being racist in recent history I’d say the general perception of racism is quite distorted. I personally quite like and agree with the definition given by the Urban dictionary:
“If you’re a white man, this is what you are. It doesn’t even matter if your wife is black and you have an adopted child from India, or how many black friends you have, somehow you’re going to end up being a racist…”
Although it’s quite extreme (and quite funny) that seems to be how we’re acting. I think we’ve become over-sensitive and over PC. It seems that anything to do with a person of colour can be accused of being racist. For instance here are some recent examples:
- US beauty products company Summer’s Eve have dropped adverts for their vaginal soap because it was deemed “racist and offensive”. The ad in question featured a black woman’s hand acting as a talking vagina with a “sassy” black woman voice over. It was criticised because it was based on racist stereotypes of African-Americans.
- An advert for Cadbury’s Bliss chocolate was accused of being racist after it compared Naomi Campbell to a chocolate bar. The supermodel said, “I am shocked. It’s upsetting to be described as chocolate, not just for me, but for all black women and black people. I do not find any humour in this. It is insulting and hurtful.”
- A recent advert for Dove’s Visible Care Body Wash has been show the R-card because it could be implied that the coloured women in the advert are going through a transformation to become white.
- A Nivea ad which features in the September issue of Esquire is being called “unapologetically racist” because it has picture of a well-groomed black man holding a bearded black man’s head with the slogan “Re-civilize yourself”.
I think that there are too many blatant examples of racism to make such an uproar over these adverts. I’m a black woman but personally I don’t find any of these offensive. As one person commented on the Voice website, after they reported the Summer’s Eve story:
“How can being ‘sassy’ be interpretted [sic] as racist? Come on people. Let’s focus on REAL cases of racism and not this foolishness. Do you see white people saying Jeremy Kyle is racists for portraying them all as chavs? Or asian people saying curry ads are racists because it stereotypes them? GET OVER THIS FOOLISHNESS!”
They make a very good point, the only time the race card is played is when it concerns black people and to be honest black people are very capable of enforcing stereotypes too. I mean look at the VH1 show Single Ladies, you have the blonde girl who only dates black men and is the only one to cheat on her husband. Then you have the white college student who only uses men for sex and dumps a boyfriend who she really cares about because he has a low libido. You could interpret that as enforcing the stereotype of white women being “easy” but the show is still on, in fact it’s been picked up for a second season.
Calling someone racist is a serious accusation; something that could ruin their reputation and it’s not something to be messed around with just because you can. Not everything relates to race. I mean people complain about the lack of representation of black people in mainstream media but then when there is, people always seem to have a problem. None of these adverts show any sign of racial superiority or discrimination in my opinion, so what is the problem? It’s good that people have a voice and that people can speak up and be heard, but don’t abuse that privilege because sooner or later you’re not gonna be taken seriously anymore. I say we need to stop being so PC and focus our energy on REAL issues.
But what do you think? Is it justifiable to call these ads racist? Why are we so sensitive?
Share your thoughts!