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  • Writer's pictureDaria Mudrova

Brands and Black Lives Matter Social Movement

In mid-2020, a massive Black Lives Matter movement swept across America in support of the black population. The fashion and beauty industry joined this wave and showed their solidarity. After all, the theme of racism has deep roots and has come to the forefront in America again for several years.

Support for the movement for black rights and against systemic racism was announced by 63% of respondents in a poll conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post.

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History knows several striking examples when brands paid for their intolerance. For example, Papa John's Founder John Schnatter was fired for using racist terminology. In the late 90s, the Cristal brand of champagne was advertised by rappers such as Jay Z in songs to such an extent that it was presented on the windows of many expensive restaurants and bars. Immediately after the racist statements by the company's CEO Louis Roederer, a boycott was announced and the champagne practically disappeared from the store windows in the U.S.A.

Fashion brands have repeatedly stumbled and found themselves in the center of racist scandals, often resulting in public apologies and the removal collections from sale. There is a known case with Gucci, which released a sweater resembling "blackface,” black make-up historically used by white actors portraying African Americans. In early 2019, Prada launched the Pradamalia collection, which featured a monkey keychain with hypertrophied features reminiscent of blackface. D&G in 2016 released a sandal called “slave sandals with pom poms”. H&M was also accused of racism because of an advertising image in which a black child is wearing a sweatshirt with the words "Coolest monkey in the jungle.” As a result, the retailer's shares fell by 30% over the year and the company had to temporarily close its stores in South Africa.

The black population makes up 15% of the entire American population. This is a major market, with about 50 million African Americans who spend more than $1 trillion a year on purchases. However, until 2020, not all beauty brands resorted to the help of black models. Now their number has increased markedly.

Retailer Sephora was also criticized for racial discrimination last year, after which it became the first major retailer to sign the 15% Pledge challenge. The pledge means that 15% of the store's shelves will be allocated to black-owned businesses. Glossier, a favorite brand of American millennials, announced this May that it is supporting the black community and donating $500,000 to black rights organizations.

Beauty Blender donated 100% of its profits to the Equal Justice Initiative, and Honest Beauty donated $100,000 to various organizations, including the NAACP Legal Advocacy and Education Foundation. Anastasia Beverly Hills pledged $1 million to fight racism.

The list of brands that have pledged to improve their hiring practices by targeting blacks also includes cosmetics industry leaders such as the Estée Lauder Companies, Revlon and Sephora. Author: Daria Mudrova


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