It’s funny how folks talk about wanting to empowering women and girls, but which girls are they really talking about?
This sentiment is perfectly seen in a new Gap Kids ad aimed for promoting Girl power–“Meet the kids who are proving that girls can do anything.” The girls–three white and one Black–are super cute and talented, but then you look closer at the ads, why are the white girls showcasing their skill and smiles and the Black girl is frowning and serving as a prop for another model to rest her arm on.
Sigh. Who approved this?
Of course, Black Twitter was not having it. calling the ads “racist,”passive” and “employing microaggessions.”
And yes, this is “just an ad,” but let’s be clear: This is part of a larger issue going on with the state of Black girls and women in this country.
Black women and girls are overlooked and ignored, relegated to being sassy sidekicks to white women in films like The Ghostbusters reboot, forced to serve as the backdrop in pop culture videos by Katy Perry and are made the butt of sexual inappropriate jokes made by basic white and talentless white women. Then our culture is hijacked, but when we rock cornrows or grills, the world calls us “ghetto,” but when white women do it, it’s hip, amazing and haute couture.
On a structural and social level, Black women are often left out of a conversation around police and state violence, pushed out of our schools and disproportionately placed into the prison industry complex. Not to mention, we have politicians wagging their fingers in our faces, magazines asking if a horse is more talented than we are and trolled when we speak out about the intersections of race and gender.
It’s never ending, whether its subtle or overt, and it’s exhausting.
But regardless of the tone deaf and insensitive message that Gap Kids and the rest of the world continue to send, we can never lose sight that Black girls are not props for white girls, they are pure magic. Just ask Marley Dias, Simone Biles, Mikaila Ulmer, Akilah Johnson and the countless others who make us proud everyday.