Trans Woman of color Munroe Bergdorf 48 hour gig as L’Oréal Paris UK diversity Spokesperson came to a screeching halt after her Facebook post condemning racism was publicized by the Daily Mail:
‘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 shit.
‘Come see me when you realise that racism isn’t learned, it’s inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege.
‘Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth… then we can talk.
‘Until then stay acting shocked about how the world continues to stay fucked at the hands of your ancestors and your heads that remain buried in the sand with hands over your ears.’
Had Ms. Bergdorf been more specific in her condemnation, narrowing down which whites she was talking about L’Oréal might have embraced her message. But therein lies the very root of systemic racism.
L’Oreal removed Munroe Bergdorf promotion from Youtube but the Daily Mail still has it up.
L’Oreal said in a statement:
‘We support diversity and tolerance towards all people irrespective of their race, background, gender and religion.
‘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.’
Munroe Bergdorf responded on Facebook
“When I stated that “all white people are racist”, I was addressing that fact that western society as a whole, is a SYSTEM rooted in white supremacy – designed to benefit, prioritise and protect white people before anyone of any other race. Unknowingly, white people are SOCIALISED to be racist from birth onwards. It is not something genetic. No one is born racist.”
“We also live in a society where men are SOCIALISED to be sexist. Women are SOCIALISED to be submissive. Gay people are SOCIALISED to be ashamed of their sexuality due to heterosexual people’s homophobia. Cisgender people are SOCIALISED to be transphobic. We do not need to be this way. We are not born this way and we can learn to reject it. We are just socially conditioned to think this way from an early age. With the right education, empathy and open mindedness we can unlearn these socialisations and live a life where we don’t oppress others and see things from other people’s points of view.”
“So when a transgender woman of colour, who has been selected to front up a big brand campaign to combat discrimination and lack of diversity in the beauty industry, speaks on her actual lived experience of being discriminated against because of her race and identifies the root of where that discrimination lies – white supremacy and systemic racism – that big brand cannot simply state that her thoughts are not “in line with the ethics of the brand”.”
“If you truly want equality and diversity, you need to actively work to dismantle the source of what created this discrimination and division in the first place. You cannot just simply cash in because you’ve realised there’s a hole in the market and that there is money to be made from people of colour who have darker skin tones.”
“The irony of all this is that L’Oréal Paris invited me to be part of a beauty campaign that ‘stands for diversity’. The fact that up until very recently, there has been next to no mainstream brands offering makeup for black women and ethnic minorities, is in itself due to racism within the industry. Most big brands did not want to sell to black women. Most big brands did not want to acknowledge that there was a HUGE demographic that was being ignored. Because they did not believe that there was MONEY to be made in selling beauty products to ethnic minorities.”
But therein lies the conundrum. It is just as easy for white people to ignore or to ‘other’ other whites for racist acts as it is to overlook it when it comes up in conversation. I know that. I have done that and yes, in the past I have been called a racist. Maybe I was to the woman of color who accused me of it. But maybe that was for the best as I have worked hard the following years to confront the last vestiges of racism that still haunt my soul. As difficult as it is, it’s the only way to make progress towards true equality.
Turns out Munroe Bergdorf was baited by Adam Pennington, a white supremacist on twitter who bragged about infuriating Munroe to the point she vented on Facebook ultimately destroying her paying gig as intended. Then the despicable coward deleted his account to avoid the consequences.
This is what REALLY went down… Sending love to everyone who can see through all of this. I won’t let this beat me. https://t.co/svDHsWZPKY
— Munroe Bergdorf (@MunroeBergdorf) September 2, 2017
Adam Pennington, a virulent racist, deleted his profile to avoid accountability after creating a media storm to disgrace a black trans woman
— Otamere Guobadia (@Otamere) September 2, 2017
The hard part is taking responsibility for our complicity to racism and work towards self-realization and action. Only by doing this can we come to understand bigotry, transphobia, and homophobia and develop agendas to educate and if necessary to combat it.
That was something L’Oréal was unwilling to do. Essentially, L’Oréal Paris has opted for racist corporate complicity and we are doing our part in calling them out for it. Perhaps next time they should look for someone a little more corporate and less honest for future diversity campaigns.
The amazing Munroe Bergdorf speaks to Channel Four…
— Munroe Bergdorf (@MunroeBergdorf) September 2, 2017