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Gucci carelessly releases blackface sweater, faces controversy, backlash

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Gucci carelessly releases blackface sweater, faces controversy, backlash

Gucci tweeted out a detailed plan on how to move forward from this incident on Feb. 15.

Gucci tweeted out a detailed plan on how to move forward from this incident on Feb. 15.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Gucci tweeted out a detailed plan on how to move forward from this incident on Feb. 15.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Gucci tweeted out a detailed plan on how to move forward from this incident on Feb. 15.

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Gucci is a fashion company that has long tried to stand out from its competitors. The company’s website describes itself as “influential, innovative and progressive…” but did the company also forget to describe itself as covertly racist?

People are beginning to think that way following Gucci’s latest blackface scandal. The company had to pull a line of sweaters that many found offensive from its stores.

The sweaters, which were all black with exaggerated bright red lips pulled over the mouth, seemed to resemble blackface. For those who aren’t aware, blackface is a type of makeup that a non-black individual coats themselves in for comedic effect at the expense of black people. It was first used in the 19th century in traveling minstrel shows and contributed widely to the spread of racist stereotypes.

Blackface has been in the news a great deal lately due to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical yearbook photo that allegedly showed him in blackface, which caused public outrage.

This outrage eventually grew into a call for his resignation, but it also started a conversation about race relations in this country and how there is still great room for improvement.

With all this conversation and activity surrounding racial sensitivity and blackface, one would expect Gucci to notice and take preemptive action by pulling the sweaters before they hit the public store shelves.

Instead, they let this one slip through the cracks right in the middle of Black History Month. Because of this, many wonder if this was a mistake at all. Celebrities and prominent figures, such as film producer Tariq Nasheed, Soulja Boy and Spike Lee, are all calling for a boycott on the brand.

“It’s obvious to Da peoples that they have no clue when it comes to racist, blackface hateful imagery,” stated Lee in an instagram post . All in all, Lee might be right.

Following the incident, Gucci issued an apology and implemented diversity training, but some are not accepting their apology. This incident raises the following questions. Why did they not have training before? Why was there no one who could see this issue and stop it before it started?

These are the questions that led Rapper T.I. to post a three step call to action against Gucci on his Instagram account, until they hire more people of color to prevent more of these situations from happening. Gucci called this incident a “powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond.”

This “powerful learning moment” is another example of the need for diversity in major companies. Without that diversity, companies like Gucci won’t be able to see these problems coming. Although this may have been a mistake of ignorance on Gucci’s part, they are not without fault.

One thing is clear, Gucci will do all they can to move away from this issue. Let’s just hope they really do learn from it.   

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Gucci carelessly releases blackface sweater, faces controversy, backlash