4.24.2011

And the Beat Goes On

The "othering" of women of color continues--this time for charity.


Wow.  It's the non-fiction version of Avatar, The Last Samarai and Dances with Wolves, except this time, it's the white woman who rides to the rescue of the needy, backwards, monolithic group of WoC.  And in a really heavy-handed sort of way at that (the commerical, not the woman...although she's definitely dipping a toe in the water).

Narcissistic, much?

I'm sure Proctor & Gamble thought they were being all diverse and everything, but I'm sorry--this commercial is just all kinds of fail on so many levels. At first blush, I'm sure a lot of people thought this was really sweet. You know, a white woman and WoC of all races and ethnicities kumbaya-ing all up and down some Western (read: modern) city street. But look deeper and it's really not too hard to see what's going on here.

Sociological Images brings home "The White Woman's Burden" way more succinctly than I could:
But it’s also a fascinating example of the way in which “white” “Westerners” are seen as rescuing the rest of the world. This white mother with her white baby represent the West (erasing the diversity of people who live there). And she and her baby are counterposed to all the other mothers and their babies representing different racial groups (which are assumed to be coherent categories, even continents, i.e., Asian, Black, Indian, etc).

In the narrative of this commercial, all women are bonded by virtue of being natural nurturers of babies (and I could take issue with that, too), but the white Western woman is the ultra-mother. They may be sisters, but there are big and little sisters in this narrative. The babies run to her as if they are drawn to her ultra-motherhood and she treats them all, just for a moment, as if they were he very own. Pampers wants you to think, of course, that when you buy a pack of Pampers, you are “helping” Other mothers and can save those Other babies.

This is just another manfestation of an old colonial belief, the white man’s burden, or the belief that white men had to take care of the rest of the world’s people because they were incapable of taking care of themselves.
Couldn't have said it better myself.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with helping those in need and there's certainly no shame in accepting a helping hand.  But Black, Asian and Latina women (and men) have been surviving and flourishing for centuries through our own genius, will, and determination, and will continue to do so in the future despite what ads like this try to sell to the public.

The pushback against this old trope is in full effect and methinks that some people are starting to get a tad bit desperate in their attempt to stay at the top of the heap in this increasingly global, non-white world.

Um...good luck with that.

15 comments:

  1. Oh...hell...no.

    Hell-to-the-every-kind-of-no. Hell naw.

    Cue massive fountain of vomit, y'all; I'm talking 26 shades of it. WTF is this? WTF is this?

    methinks that some people are starting to get a tad bit desperate in their attempt to stay at the top of the heap in this increasingly global, non-white world.

    Must be what it is.

    Seriously...there's going to come a day when there are no more white people, and shit like this will be all that's left of them. Our descendants are going to sit in classrooms with their jaws on the floor, shuddering and wondering how the hell we coexisted with people like these.

    *retches*

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  2. @ Ankh

    Or we could just erase them from history like they fail to do for many great POC societies. Who would we be if we didn't return the favor?

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  3. @ GoddessMaverick

    Or we could just erase them from history like they do for many great POC societies. Who would we be if we didn't return the favor?

    POC, who prize the ancient tradition of "cautionary tales".

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  4. If you imagine the babies giving the woman the finger instead of waving, the commercial becomes 100X better.

    Cos I was ready to swear that was what the little African baby did.

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  5. reminds me of this:
    http://mizjenkins.tumblr.com/post/4353996690

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  6. @ MG

    That was seriously shudder-worthy. Even the child looked a bit creeped out.

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  7. @Amaya

    If you imagine the babies giving the woman the finger instead of waving, the commercial becomes 100X better.

    Cos I was ready to swear that was what the little African baby did.


    LOL! Now that is all I see.

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  8. Umm, did no one notice that the other mothers did NOTHING to stop their children from touching that White woman?

    If that were my child, I'd SNATCH them right up, not thank her pasty, condescending ass!

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  9. They have a nerve projecting the WW as the "ultra-mother" in any context. Wasn't this the same group of women who abdicated their responsibilites to the slaves to act as wet nurses to their babies? The gall and arrogance of these folks is staggering.

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  10. Alright this is what I call some freshly squeezed bullshit, Nice White Lady MADtv skit anyone?

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  11. "Wasn't this the same group of women who abdicated their responsibilites to the slaves to act as wet nurses to their babies?"

    Now there's something that I will never understand. Thinking in that era's mindset for a moment, why let 'lesser beings' nourish your precious child with milk from their 'inferior' bodies? Pretty sure there were poor,lactating white women who'd be up for the jo...oh, wait. They'd have had to pay them. Never mind.

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  12. Wasn't this the same group of women who abdicated their responsibilites to the slaves to act as wet nurses to their babies?

    Girl...tell it. $64,000 question right there.

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  13. That advert got me so angry on so many levels it is unbelievable.
    Being a Black African woman who has grown up my entire life in Europe, I find it shocking that marketing/advertising experts were permitted to get this crap online and via television. Because ONLY the white women buy PAMPERS. Even worse, the WHITE WOMAN is the saviour to those ‘poor backward, uncivilised – ethnic’ mothers and their children!!

    It is amazing how they showed ALL colours as suffering except for white. Because hey…. ALL Eastern European countries are now so well off that the issue of child abuse and neglect is no longer an issue. Well tell that to the children whose cause is being supported by organisation such as ‘Nobody’s Child’ working in Bulgaria, Estonia, Macedonia, Poland…and to name a few countries.

    And yes, this is known by a BLACK AFRICAN who actually works in the field of education and international development for national and international non-profits. But hey…I’m the one who whose future kids will be portrayed as needing the CARING WHITE woman to save them!!!

    How about solely here in the UK where I live, with the enormous number of children we have in Social Care wh0 (an unfortunate number) are neglected in the care system?
    Well on that note, I’ll inform my international (non-white friends) that THEM buying pampers is not equivalent to a WHITE WOMAN buying PAMPERS!!

    What is more shocking is UNICEF stood by and let this be aired as a representation of its work.
    I guess the likes of Koffi Anan and Ban Ki-moon should be so damn grateful that their grandkids will be saved.

    Diversity in UNICEF’s work has truly been shown here!! Yes, they represented a good variety of ‘generalised’ race…and yet still ONE is the saviour. Even my white friends cringed at this.
    No wonder ethnic minorities in the West will never escape the stereotype of ALWAYS needing saving!!

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  14. I've been lurking here but I'm not surprised UNICEF would let this happen. They also need to screen who they let volunteer for them. I know the UNICEF group at my university is racist. They tried time and time again to get white fraternites to help promote their charities but they said no. The black fratenities offered help but the head said they didn't want to work with the scary ghetto frats. Mind you there were black female members in attendance at that meeting. How can you help people when you think like that? Clearly they aren't helping because they care, they just want to make their resume look good to the world.

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