A couple months ago, I was a panelist at the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit. The panel’s focus was authenticity on social media. At some point my co-panelist Morgan DeBaun stated “Black Twitter is REAL!” Boy oh boy, there was never a more true statement. As you might well remember I was dragged by social media few years back for a controversial post that I wrote. So I know first hand how savage social media can be. But recent events have me asking myself are Black women brand bullies?
I’ve been in the marketing industry for more than 2o years and I have seen my share of f*ck ups and snafoos from brands. And each time the court of public opinion has tried, convicted and damn near decapitated the brand. We have left them limping and bleeding and begging forgiveness. And no group is more powerful than a well-organized she-pack. And none more vicious than the brown girl gang.
Shux, the Civil Rights Movement had Freedom Riders and we have FreeHER Writers! But do the sisters go too far sometimes? Do our rally cries cross over from bold statements in to bullying? Welp, I sure as hell hope not.
Ok, let’s state some obvious points dammit!
- Black women are villified in the media
- Black women are under-represented in visual marketing
- There is a long standing prejudice in our society against brown girls with curls
- Mocha women are not traditionally referenced in the “beauty” dialog or imagery
- We are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore (Hell to tha nawl)
So here’s what I really think, F*ck tradition! New media and new marketing have given us the power to create our own narrative. So let’s stop crying victim.
Recently the beauty brand Shea Moisture got into hot water because of a new marketing campaign that mostly showcased other ethnicities. Apparently they are trying to attract a more diverse audience. The new ads landed offensively on the laps of their largest client base (Black women) because they were obviously absent from one of the ads in their recently released campaign. Youch!
C’mon, you can see why we would be offended at the notion that “we are good enough for you to take our money, but not good enough for you to be in our commercials”. Welp, intentional or not, that’s the effing message. Now dear little Shea Moisture should and will pay dearly for that oversight. The comments on the commercial blamed new ownership and “sell out” tactics. But I don’t think management is the problem at all.
You see owners only care about the bottom line and they leave the sales to the marketing department. It’s clear to me that the department or agency in charge of this campaign is missing input from the key demographic and they misstepped in a major way. This is what happens when there isn’t enough of or the right kind of diversity in charge of marketing.
Now, I’m all for a good boycott, the 6o’s taught us how effective they can be. And nothing drives home the point to a brand faster than empty pockets. But my question is when does the persecution end? When I saw people saying they would “never buy their product again”. My heart sank. Yes, let’s let their asses sit on the shelf for the next 90 days and I’m sure their half assed apology will turn into serious regret and a marketing overhaul.
But never plus the bazillion African-American product users means these folks might go out of business! Now wait a cotton picking minute! Ok, 90 days I can work with, I might even be ok if we stretch this thing out for 6 months. But are we really going to bankrupt a company that has consistently produced a great product that serves millions of us. That is what I call biting off your nose to spite your face.
Ladies, we have to use our voice to create change. That’s not the same as bullying brands to the point of bankruptcy. I mean I don’t give a diddly squat about Shea Moisture, I don’t even use their products. But I do care when we use our social capital to bully a brand just because they didn’t behave as we expected. Our job is to educate them with a firm hand on the voice and buying power of Black Women. But when we go too far, we become the enemy rather than an ally. And then we are just once again “the angry black woman”.
Just some food for thought y’all. Now let’s focus on some important sh*t. Who’s got a dairy free brownie recipe (seriously, that sh*t could change the world).
UPDATE : Thanks to Tangia Estrada for the dairy free brownie recipe!! See below!
- 1/2 C natural almond butter
- 1Tbs coconut oil
- 2Tbs honey or maple syrup
- 2Tbs natural apple sauce
- 2Tbs coconut sugar
- 1Tbs almond milk
- 3Tbs almond flour
- 1/2tsp vanilla
- 2Tbs cocoa powder
- 1/2tsp baking soda
- 1/4tsp baking powder
- 1/4tsp salt
- 1/4C dark chocolate chunks
- Preheat oven to 350
- Grease 8×4 loaf pan with coconut oil
- Mix almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, & salt
- Warm almond butter and coconut oil in microwave or pan and stir until combined
- Add honey, applesauce, coconut sugar, almond milk, and vanilla with almond butter mixture & combine well
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well
- Gently fold in dark chocolate chunks
- Spread batter into loaf pan
- Bake at 350 for 10-15 mins or until just barley set let cool at least 20 mins before serving.
This is a small but delicious batch. Simply double recipe and bake in 8×8 pan for higher yield.