Munroe Bergdorf, Jemele Hill, And The Censorship Of Black Womenby Stephanie Long, CASSIUS October 4, 2017
Black women often end up at the receiving end of censure and backlash when they speak up about vital issues.
Beauty empire L’Oreal has hugely dropped the ball with its new contentious ploy at pretending to be “diverse.” After hiring model Munroe Bergdorf to take part in the company’s diversity campaign, they’ve just announced that they have fired her for speaking out against systematic racism.
In the aftermath of Charlottesville, continued KKK presence in cities across the nation and simply blatant racism normalized in Western culture, Bergdorf posted a now deleted Facebook status venting about systematic racism and the frustrations involved in white supremacy.
The Facebook post was then picked up by the Daily Mail which zeroed in on a comment made stating that due to societal conditioning, “Yes ALL white people” are racist. The Facebook post read:
“Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes ALL white people.
‘Because most of ya’ll don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour. Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this s***.”
After being fired by L’Oréal UK for speaking out against white supremacy, model and activist Munroe Bergdorf’s inked a new deal with Illamasqua—the fearless beauty brand that “refuses to remain silent,” as stated in its recent anti-fascism pledge.
“Munroe embodies diversity and individuality; she is not scared to be truly herself,” an Illamasqua spokesperson told Mic via email. “But Munroe doesn’t just stop there. She speaks out about the issues that affect not just her but the rest of our generation, seeking to improve the society we live in. That is what makes her a true Illamasqua Ambassador.”
In case you missed it, Bergdorf had everyone talking when she was announced to be the face of a L’Oréal UK campaign. Many praised the company for its progressive campaign, which is supposedly centered upon diversity, but when Daily Mail published a Facebook post of Bergdorf’s—in which she took a commendable stand against white supremacists following the horrific events in Charlottesville—the cosmetic company dropped her from the campaign as quickly as they signed her on.
“L’Oréal supports diversity and tolerance towards all people irrespective of their race, background, gender and religion,” the company claimed in a statement to Buzzfeed. “The L’Oréal Paris True Match campaign is a representation of these values and we are proud of the diversity of the Ambassadors who represent this campaign. We believe that the recent comments by Munroe Bergdorf are at odds with those values, and as such we have taken the decision to end the partnership with her. L’Oréal remains committed to celebrating diversity and breaking down barriers in beauty.”
Most recently, ESPN SportsCenter host Jemele Hill came under fire for speaking out against Donald Trump, but rather than support her (she said nothing we weren’t already aware of: 45 has surrounded himself with white supremacists …), they released a statement via Twitter, referring to her words as “inappropriate.”
While we can only hope for better days, the future looks hazy. It appears ESPN, along with other big-name brands, is cracking down via stringent policies regarding how its staff conducts itself online.
“Given the intense interest in the most recent presidential election and the fact subsequent political and social discussions often intersected with the sports world, we found it to be an appropriate time to review our guidelines,” Patrick Stiegman, ESPN’s vice president of global digital content and chairman of the company’s internal Editorial Board, stated back in April. Their new guidelines state topics discussed by their team should be related to sports, though they claim to acknowledge “exceptions” when the discussion of “broader political topics” may be necessary. “We just want to ensure those are thoughtful discussions, and meet the other criteria in the guidelines,” Stiegman continued.
But what will it take for these brands to stand behind the Black women they employ, especially when their backing is crucial to the advocacy of minorities across the nation?
Bergdorf may have said it best:
“Big brands are willing to profit from Black women without standing up for them.”
UPDATED on September 6, 2017:
Following the firing of black model Munroe Bergdorf from a L’Oréal‘diversity’ campaign, spokesmodel Clara Amfo has asked to be removed from her position as a face for the project.
Bergdorf was fired following a statement she made speaking against white supremacy and systematic racism. In response, Amfo posted this statement to Instagram to share her disappointment in the decision and to share she was seeking to be removed from the campaign, stating:
“Not even a week ago I was proud to announce that I was to be in the same campaign as Munroe. A trans woman of colour who @lorealmakeup hired to sell make up because of who she is…
She has now been dropped from the campaign because L’Oreal feel that she is “at odds with our values”…..If she’s not “worth it” anymore, I guess I’m not either. #IStandWithMunroe.
When reaching out for comment, Mic confirmed she has indeed requested to be removed from all L’Oréal imagery: “I can confirm that I have requested to be removed from all L’Oréal campaign artwork at the same time as Munroe.”
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SOURCE: Mic, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, ESPN