Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More Blackface from the Fashion Industry

Okay, can we stop pretending that Blackface happens accidentally and does not have a nefarious intent?  A little honesty about blatant racism, just might be refreshing for a change.  In yet another example of how the fashion industry has embraced Blackface as cutting edge, Illamasqua, a UK-based beauty brand introduced its holiday ad campaign on Facebook featuring a white model painted in blackface along with the caption: “Not dreaming of a white Christmas.”

For your viewing pleasure:

That's really edgy isn't it?  Can you hear the sound of hipsters jumping up and down with glee, about   how ironic the above image is? Clearly, it must have a really deep meaning because the caption reads "not dreaming of a white Christmas," even as the image itself is clearly racist.

The following is the explanation by Illamasqua:
We thank and acknowledge your comments regarding the above image. Obviously it was never our intention to cause offence; Illamasqua has always celebrated the right to self-expression and we continually push creative and artistic boundaries, priding ourselves on working with models of many ethnic backgrounds to reinforce this point. Alex Box, Illamasqua’s Creative Director, has emphasised that this campaign is about colour ON the skin, not colour OF the skin, depicting polarity between the two images (both images are the same model) not race.
So Illamasqua has declared that this is not about race, despite the fact that they have clearly engaged in Blackface.  Quick everyone, close your eyes and maybe when you open them again, those big red lips and the painted Black skin will magically disappear. Even more importantly, Illamasqua has declared that they didn't intend to be racist and since we all know that intent is all that matters in race relations, there is no reason for people to think about how Blackface has been used historically to demean Blacks and elevate Whiteness.  Nope, just brush that aside and rest assured that what really matters is the art. 

All hail the freedom to be a racist asshole, no matter who is hurt in the process.  Though the response to this image was clearly negative, Illamasqua dug their heels in and refused to remove this advertisement.  How can they now deny intent to harm, when they have clearly been told that what they have done is without doubt racist and hurtful but refuse to remove the image?
Despite the controversy over the advertisement, what is absolutely assured, is that this will happen again.  No matter how many times Black people protest and say that Blackface is racist and hurtful, the fashion industry will continue to do this because like every other industry, they have found profit in catering to and supporting Whiteness.  As long as there is money to be made, no one cares who's being hurt.