Without a doubt, we are living in one of the most racially charged time periods of my 27 years of life (that I can remember at least). The black community is not standing for the bullshit anymore and it is glorious. It is empowering. It makes me feel hopeful about the America my son gets to grow up in. It makes me feel like we actually can bring forth real, tangible change. And I understand the importance of labeling things as they are. If an act is one of racism, label it. If it is racially biased, label it. If it is a poor choice, label it.
However, there is a serious danger in labeling every single thing that is insensitive, untimely, or poor judgement as out right racist. Racism is a broader more complex thing that covers this country. It is what it was founded on. And while I don’t for a second think that there aren’t subconcious predjudices, labeling something or someone as racist when it is something else (not lesser) can water down the true acts of racism that we face.
The Gap ad uproar this week that has taken over the media was labeled as racists, biased, the little black girl was considered a prop because the older white girl was using her head as an arm rest. My friend ask me about my thoughts and I said, racists– eh. Probably not. A very poor choice on the part of the marketing execs over at Gap that know good and well the type of reaction they would receive because they have fancy degrees that taught them this, absolutely.
Now, the mother of the girls, actress Brooke Smith has come out to explain that the girls are actually sisters (the black little girl being adopted) and it was innocent.
The blame largely falls on Gap. Maybe they don’t have enough black faces in the marketing department. Maybe they just don’t care. Maybe they chose to see two sisters playing around and a big sister teasing the younger one as siblings do.
The fact is that these girls and their talents were over shadowed by a poor choice by the adults running the show. Labeling as racist, though, is irresponsible. Giving everything the title of being racists waters down the acts a true racism that prevents black Americans from finding employment, homes, and from running through our own neighborhoods in hoodies at night.