Twitter v. Gap: Le Petite Cirque Controversy

That one time Gap forgot that the Black Twitter wasn’t going.

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Since Gap premiered its newest campaign this photo has been making waves all over the internet.  The campaign was released by Gap tweeting this photo with the caption “meet the kids who are proving that girls can do anything.”  Quickly people saw the ad and were outraged by what they thought was a racist, pitiful attempt at diversity.

The ad at face value

The photo, on its own, hardly does what the caption says. Clearly two of the girls in the picture are doing things many of us can’t, but the two in the middle are just standing there (the little black girl looking quite miserable I might add).

At first glance the ad boring. Lazy even.  If you didn’t know that these girls were a part of  Le Petite Cirque you wouldn’t know that they were all acrobats.  The photo does nothing to enhance the mission behind the campaign.   I don’t, however, feel that the ad is racist.

Yes, women and men of color are underrepresented pretty much everywhere.  Yes, we deserve to see ourselves as much as we see everyone else. Yes, this ad could’ve been done so much better.  But, I also think that people are so quick to load their Twitter fingers from the comfort of their couch that the message and purpose of the black social movement isn’t always taken seriously.

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I can definitely see why people are upset.  This photo depicts something we’ve seen time and time again.  The black friend. The side kick. The character who wouldn’t exist if not to support their white counterpart.  Cher had Dion, The Spice Girls had Mel B, Boy Meets World threw Angela in, and it even happens in cartoons (i.e.: The Weekenders, Hey Arnold, Recess, and Kim Possible).

The point is that the portrait of the lone black girl (or guy) toughing it out with their white crew is one we’ve seen too often, and it’s TIRED.  With that I absolutely agree.

There are so many things going on in the world right now that are actually racist and could use more voices, but they aren’t there. I’ve seen so many hateful tweets about this ad and toward the company, but for what?

Don’t get me wrong I think it’s important to strike up conversation and voice your opinion, but what conversation are we having if we’re all arguing?

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I think the Gap ad happened because there were no black people in the conversation when the decision on the photo was made. Tweeters have claimed that the argument is about context and history, but I saw this tweet and couldn’t help but agree:

@chavindontexist “it’s an ad…context is “buy our clothes” lol

I truly don’t’ believe this was intentional, blatant act of racism.  I may be blind to it, but to me it just seems careless.  I know there are people out there who really think “hey if we throw one black person in there that’s diverse enough” But I don’t think that’s what’s happening here.

When I see the other photos posted to the Le Petite Cirque Facebook page Ava is legit one of the only black people in the entire show, so that’s a fact before the ad was done.   Using these young circus performers is an amazing and inspiring idea to go along with the other young talents in the campaign like Dj Livia (8) and 13 –year-old Wildlife Photographer Ashleigh.  Seriously who knows a kid in the circus?

As a whole I think the campaign is really great. I appreciate Gap looking for kids who are trailblazers.  Gap has since apologized and changed the photo of the Le Petit crew.  I definitely think this was the right thing to do, but I think it could’ve been accomplished without tweeters denouncing Gap and calling them racist.

Imagine how different the conversation would’ve been if people said “this is not right because…” instead of “I hate you, you’re racist.”

At the end of the day these people are trying to sell clothes and make money. Their concern isn’t if you’re black, white, purple or pink but that your money is green. Yes companies should be diverse and conscious with their branding, but we as a people should be quicker to meet poor judgement and bad decisions with education.

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