What is wrong with this picture?
Nothing, in my opinion. To think, to say that this photo is racist, that Adventure Girl is using Love Girl’s head as an armrest because she’s black, and that this shows passive racism, that is what is wrong.
I do not see any racism in this photo. On the contrary, I see unity, complicity (of the positive kind). That is all. I imagine that those who saw racism in this photo would see it regardless of Love Girl’s pose. For example, if she had been the one resting her arm on any of the other girls, the conspiracy theorists might say that the ad’s message is that black people can’t get ahead without support from whites, or that black people are lazy. If Love Girl would be doing either of the active poses, they might say that the ad’s message is that blacks are more athletic (and less intellectual) than whites. It’s so wrong.
However, what is even worse is Gap pulling this ad and apologizing. Why should Gap apologize when it did nothing wrong? For starters, Adventure Girl and Love Girl are sisters. Their mom is actress Brooke Smith who played Dr. Erica Hahn on Grey’s Anatomy a few seasons ago. But, even if they weren’t, there is nothing to see here, except four girls posing for an ad.
Gap’s spokesperson Debbie Felix:
“As a brand with a proud 46 year history of championing diversity and inclusivity, we appreciate the conversation that has taken place and are sorry to anyone we’ve offended,”
I think that a brand with such history of diversity and inclusiveness should have stood by their work product and shown why the racist accusations were wrong. If Gap had done that, maybe we would be having a much more important conversation on race, rather than debating whether Gap’s ad is racist or not.
It is ironic that an ad that shows how far we’ve come also shows how far we have to go when it comes to race and race relations in our country.