And so on Monday all 880 Clicks shops were forced to close by protesting EFF members over the health group’s racist advert that they published on Friday, September 4, on their website and later removed. The offending advert had no sophistication nor subtlety. It was blunt in its message that black hair is inferior to white hair and to achieve the quality and status that comes with white hair, black people needed to use a certain product. That is how many, particularly black people understood the message carried in the advert to suggest.
The EFF did not let this thing lie down, instead took action with members protesting at the Clicks’ outlets throughout the country, and in some instances, unfortunately, violence and the thrashing of stores happened and the blame game started. This tended to deviate attention from the real issue, and that real issue is the racist advert and why corporates with big budgets to pay advertising companies to sit down, brainstorm, conceptualise and craft what must be masterpieces of work of art that speaks to its customers and lure them to buy more of the products or services they offer, get it wrong, and all the time.
That is one issue. There is yet another issue, and that is the politics of black hair and how this natural God given aesthetic, like others that are also God given, such as white hair, Asian hair, and so forth and so on, is closely scutinised by others other than the ones gifted with it.
And as in an article written by Professor Hlonipha Mokoena in this edition of CITYLIFE/ARTS, the scrutinisation and sometimes misunderstanding of black hair and its place as natural ornament that enhances the beauty of the black body by other races, has a long history, dating back into slavery.
From dreadlocks to weaves, many instances of this uncomfortable gaze by others other than the ones gifted with it, is tiring, and this outrage following Clicks’ monumental mistake to accept such an advert from their advertising company to be published on their website was a hugely monumental mistake. Yes, the company was quick to apologise, and that is the right thing to do. But is it enough to just and apologise and move on, selling more products to the very same people you have just insulted? I have no answer to that question, and quite honestly, have no obligation nor patetie to offer a solution for the group needs to answer that critical question itself.
This is quite important because mistakes of this nature by corporates have become too numerous to just apologise and move on. One also wonders If it never occurred to the advertising agency that crafted the offending advert, to once the advert was complete, take a huge break and pause and say, well is this the right message or is this the best way to send out whatever message they intended to? I really doubt that they deliberately, provocatively wanted to be racist given the fact that a big number of Clicks’ customer base comes from the very community the advert just insulted.
It must have been a mistake, unless of course I am missing something. It is not too late though for the group to do more and control the damage and the fallout going forward.
Yet another thing is, other races must just leave the black man or black woman’s hair alone. It is God given, black and beautiful, and no amount of scrutiny or racist research will change that. I bet.