Daily Mail divides again & L'Oreal's diversity disaster

Other | Friday 1st September 2017 | Patience

So what's all this fuss about L'Oreal and its sacking of its first black transgender model over her comments which the Daily Mail says were her "claiming ALL white people are racist."

Putting Munroe's words in context it is hard to see why so many people, specifically why certain white people are getting angry and even calling her racist.

In a written statement to Facebook Munroe initially said:

"Honestly I don't have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people anymore. 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***."

"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 f***** at the hands of your ancestors and your heads that remain buried in the sand with hands over your ears."

Of course, most of the media run with the Daily Mail's opening statement of 'transgender model says ALL white people are racist.' 
Media coverage like this forced Munroe to explain herself further.

Now let's break down what Munroe was really saying.

Her comments were written in direct response to Charlottesville and in her alleged "rant" Munroe links it back to the experience of people of colour living in the UK.

In her post, Munroe makes it clear that when she says "ALL white people" she is specifically referencing the British Empire and how their wealth & power has come about at the "expense" of people of colour, and the individuals directly benefitting from this are "ALL white people."

It is no secret that the majority of the riches and political power achieved in the UK & US is due to slavery and colonialism. Two things that are still negatively impacting people of colour hundreds of years later.

Yet simultaneously these very same things have been working positively for white people for generations now. From education, business and even the law. How so, you might be wondering. In a recent documentary 'Will a Black Man Ever Be Prime Minister' by David Harewood, the actor finds that when it comes to school test results black students start at a lower point to white students.

However, by the time they do their GCSE's they have surpassed their white counterparts. This "shows that there is some stereotyping going on, that teachers have a former view about the likely performance of students from outside knowledge i.e. black kids don't do well in school so they under assess" says Professor Simon Burgess on the show.

The documentary also finds that there are 0 black admirals, marshals, general, judges and national newspaper editors. This isn't even taking into account that 36% of the 12,605 incidents where the MET police used force from April-June involved black people. Even though black people only make up 13% of London's population.

So it is hard to find fault with Munroe when she says, "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."

The way the British Empire is romanticised in the school curriculum in the UK is disturbing and has laid the ground work for the continuous ignorance for many living in the UK. Just take a look at Churchill's involvement in the Bengali famine, or the treatment of the Chagossians and even the devastating state of colonialism caused by King Leopold II in Congo, these are all points in history that are rarely talked about.

But let's be outraged at Munroe saying what has been known for years and not at the system that seeks to push and silence the Western's role in disempowering people of colour throughout history.

Munroe goes on to say, "Whether aware of it or not, in today's society the lighter your skin tone (people of colour included) the more social privileges you will be afforded. Whether that's access to housing, healthcare, employment or credit. A person's race and skin tone has a HUGE part to play in how they are treated."

Alongside David Harewood's findings, it is impossible to dispute Munroe's "claims" on colourism, in the UK it is rare to find a dark skinned black & Asian woman in any lead roles in British television.

Outside of Michaela Coel's role in Chewing Gum, I struggle to think of the last time I saw more women who looked like Munroe and me in several shows at one given time; and we are not even taking into account the lack of representation of Asian women in the media.

Which is why when Munroe says "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."

The fact that whiteness is the norm, is the problem, racial violence comes in many forms, it can be Nazi supporters marching into Charlottesville or a system that erases any other voice other than their own

This system like Munroe points out primarily elevates "ALL white people" and your refusal to even see it or even acknowledge this issue is the reason why this privilege exists and why unknowingly most white people have bought into it. 

Like most things Munroe makes it clear we are socialised into believing these things, ”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.”

Unfourntaely L'Oreal seemed to have missed the memo, in a quick Twitter statement they showed they were quick to drop the model as they did not support such "values" yet at the same time they apparently support the 'values' of Cheryl Cole who punched a black woman and allegedly called her "a f****** black bitch." 

For a brand that has barely to no black or Asian women representing its products, and the lack of variety in their makeup range for darker skin tones, it is a shame L'Oreal isn't using this as an opportunity to discuss how to challenge racism, by distancing themselves they become part of the problem. 

For people with any kind of pigmentation to their skin, privilege is easy to see.

It's a little black or brown girl walking into Superdrug to have only 5-6 make up options given to them for their various skin tones in comparison to the endless stream of makeup selections for white girls. It's as a young woman walking into the biggest supermarket chains in the UK and having little to no options for your 'type of hair', in comparison to the whole aisle given to Caucasian hair.

Munroe touches on the ugly truth of systematic prejudice and unfortunately, it's easier to be outraged instead of looking at the people of colour next to you and listening to what they are really saying. Hearing their experiences and asking how & where you can do better in changing the status quo that you might be unwillingly a part of but are still inherently benefitting from. 

White people should not feel "guilty" unless of course, they do not acknowledge their privilege. In which case, maybe they are guilty.