Uptown Bourgeois is an arts, news, and culture blog created by New York-based freelance writer Jefferey Spivey. UB explores universal themes through a black, queer lens. 

Gap's racism ad controversy is a non-issue

Gap Inc. is in the news again, but this time it’s not about lagging sales or out of touch fashion. The talk of Twitter is all about the ad posted above.  The photo is part of a campaign for Ellen DeGeneres’ girls clothing line with the iconic American brand.  The collection’s webpage (which you can view here) highlights young girls excelling in multiple creative fields like music and photography.  But it’s this photo of all-girl cirque group Le Petit Cirque that has feathers severely ruffled.

The Twitterverse has not taken kindly to the image of a tall, white girl comfortably using the shorter, black girl as an armrest.  There have been numerous cries of racism and the perpetuation of white imperialism. The controversy was enough that Gap officially released a statement apologizing for the racially insensitive tone of the ad and pulled it, replacing the image with this one:

Even though I’ve been known to dissect the use of a two-word phrase and spend 800+ words detailing why it offended me, I have to call bullshit on this one.  This is a sign that people are just being too damn sensitive.  It’s like there’s a team of people who wake up in the morning and spend the first few hours of their days searching for ways to make the most ridiculous photos, words, songs, etc. in something racist.  This ad is not racist.  Not by a long shot.

For starters, Gap Inc. is a global brand known for diversity and inclusion in both its hiring practices and public advertising.  Previous ad campaigns have featured everyone from Forest Whitaker to Lucy Liu to Waris Ahluwalia.  How do I know this? Well, don’t call me an expert, but I had a pretty prosperous 11-year career there.  I never once witnessed an act of racism.  In fact, there was more inclusion at Gap Inc. than I’ve ever seen anywhere.

This ad is all about girl power.  These are just young girls having fun, posing, and being themselves.  The people of Twitter are projecting their hypersensitivity and insecurity on this ad campaign.  These young girls represent power, talent, and possibility.  They don’t represent racism.  That’s something that’s being projected on them unfairly.

It’s starting to get a little old that people are constantly trying to sniff out controversy in places where it doesn’t exist.  Gap Inc. has its hands full trying to revive its business.  Now, the company has an unwarranted PR disaster on its hands.  And quite frankly, they don’t deserve it.  If you want to make fun of the plain ass clothes being sold, that’s one thing.  But don’t call the company racist.

And just in case you think I’m choosing an opposing opinion just for the sake of provocation, check out some of these thoughts from like-minded Tweeple.  

Lighten up, folks.  Have you seen the news lately? Pass by any coverage of a Trump rally by chance? There’s actual, real racism happening all over America.  Let go of your superficiality and phony Twitter activism, and use your outrage to address something real and worthwhile.  Don’t jump all over Gap just because it’s a slow news day.

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