2016-04-06

Why Are Folks Mad About the GapKids Commercial?: An Explanation of Race, The Media, and Microaggressions.

GapKids just released this ad:




It's cute, right? So innocent. Full of girl power!!!!! However, some folks didn't see things that way:



So why are these people so upset about such an innocent commercial? It's because there are underlying messages that are oblivious to the majority and that are constantly thrown at the minority.  

White women in this country are in a position of power in comparison to women of color.  We are supposed to always care about their feelings. When they talk about rape, it's sad.  When women of color talk about rape, it's not so sad, it's probably a lie (because we're under the impression rape is tied to attractiveness and women of color aren't deemed "attractive" in our society), or that women of color probably deserved it or are used to such things, so it doesn't impact them as much. 

White women are to be put on a pedestal.  If they feel threatened, we are supposed to care and fix it so they can feel better.  When women of color feel threatened, we're just supposed to suck it up, or we're overreacting.  If women of color express an opinion, if it differs from white women, they can feel threatened, and you're supposed to value their opinion over your own, because their whiteness gives the opinion more validity, especially to other white people.  

All in all, we're always supposed to take our issues to the back burner for the greater good of white women.  While the feminist movement put forth great strides for those of us with lighter skin and higher social class, the poor and women of color are still kind of in the same boat of where we were before.

So what does all this have to do with this innocent GapKids ad?  Everything.   The microaggressions that women of color face constantly start to add up and frankly, we're just tired.  It isn't the getting called the "n-word" and being exposed to the KKK, it's the constant exposure to media and society who says we're less than and we're there to supplement white people. People of color are just filler.  We are there to simply placate their lives, and if you dare consider yourself an equal, or worse better, you better realize you aren't.

Growing up, I was always told to downplay what I had to white people, because they would try to take it away or diminish it.  For the most part that is true in my experience.  They will find ways to explain to you why your accomplishments or even material things are really not that great or inferior, or just not to their liking, and usually these opinions and thoughts are unsolicited.  Often times, I just won't share, and that just makes people curious, as if they anticipate trying to figure out what's wrong with whatever project you're doing, or whatever new shiny thing you get.   I once was shopping for furniture, and me and a friend actually were looking at the same things, another friend complimented my friend about her ideas for furniture, but was trying really hard to tell me what she didn't like about my ideas, even after explaining to her I had the SAME exact idea as our mutual friend.  That's the microaggression.   It's the trying to find fault with any and everything that you do, and being eager to share unsolicited opinions about it, but yet if the tables were turned, it would be seen as a threat.

This GapKids ad shows us, we are just tokens, and the "real girls" (read white) need a prop, literally and figuratively.   The little black girl says nothing, literally does nothing, she just works best as an arm rest.  That was what we noticed, because we always notice these things, while this issue is oblivious to white America.

We want to be acknowledged as more than props and filler; and our requests for such things up until recently, were ignored.  Thankfully, there was at least an apology this time.

A lot of us are still tired and still dealing with this issue. We're not filler and it's ok to acknowledge and demand other people know this.