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Here's why people are raging at L'Oréal UK for dropping their first ever trans model

L’Oréal UK has dropped the first ever trans woman to front their campaign after comments she made about racism and white privilege.

MUNROE BERGDORF IS a British DJ and activist who recently made history by becoming the first ever openly trans woman to star in a L’Oreal UK campaign.

Bergdorf was appointed as a brand ambassador for the YoursTruly True Match diversity campaign and recorded spots promoting the brand, praising them for their commitment to creating makeup for diverse skin tones.

Source: L'Oréal Paris UK & Ireland/YouTube

Following the outbreak of violence in Charlottesville a few weeks ago, Munroe Bergdorf posted a Facebook status in which she accused white people of perpetrating “racial violence” and failing to acknowledge their privilege.

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 s**t.
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**ked at the hands of your ancestors and your heads that remain buried in the sand with hands over your ears.’

Last night Daily Mail picked up on the Facebook post and characterised it as an “extraordinary Facebook rant”. It also gleefully teased that it could cost her a “lucrative cosmetic campaign”.

dail Source: Daily Mail

A L’Oreal insider told Daily Mail that Bergdorf’s Facebook post was “highly embarrassing and very much goes against message”.

To drop her now would be something of a PR disaster but, at the same time, they cannot be seen to be endorsing any kind of racism or extremism. Conversations about her future are taking place.

This morning, L’Oréal Paris UK tweeted that Bergdorf’s comments were “at odds” with the company’s values and that they were ending the partnership as a result.

This morning, Bergdorf posted a Facebook status in which she clarified her comments and condemned the Daily Mail for sensationalising them without adding context.

“This ‘rant’ was a direct response to the violence of WHITE SUPREMACISTS in Charlottesville,” she explained.

Secondly, identifying that the success of the British Empire has been at the expense of the people of colour, is not something that should offend ANYONE. It is a fact. It happened. Slavery and colonialism, at the hands of white supremacy, played a huge part in shaping the United Kingdom and much of the west, into the super power that it is today.

She went on to explain how “the lighter your skin toe 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 by society as a whole, based on their proximity to whiteness.

Furthermore, she clarified that her “all white people are racist” comment stemmed from the fact that Western society is “a system rooted in white supremacy designed to benefit, prioritise and protect white people before anyone of any other race”.

She went on to condemn L’Oréal for distancing themselves from her comments and questioned the validity of their commitment to diversity.

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.
Empowerment and inclusivity are not trends, these are people’s lives and experiences. If brands are going to use empowerment as a tool to push product to people of colour, then the least they can do is actually work us to dismantle the source, not throw us under the bus when it comes to the crunch. At times like this, it becomes blindly obvious what is genuine allyship and what is performative.

Many have coriticised L’Oréal’s decision to terminate their partnership with a trans woman of colour and accused them of pandering to the Daily Mail.

After all, it doesn’t look good for a brand to drop a trans woman of colour for speaking openly about racism, white supremacy and colonialism, all relevant subjects given the current political climate.

This won’t be the last we hear of this.

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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