Polyethnic…The “New” Multicultural

So while reading Cocoa Fly’s blog, I come across an article about the new marketing campaign of Carol’s Daughter.  They’re focusing on polyethnic beauty.  I got a quick education this morning on what “polyethnic” means.  When you read the CEO’s definition, notice that Steve-O specifically focuses on women of color.

What the fuck?  What America is really becoming? Colorless?  Polyethnic?  The women shown in the article are my complexion, or the color of a paper sack.  But on the census documents, I check “Black,” whereas they check “Black” and… "(non-Black ethnicity of your choice).”  Convenient.  Even though when White people see their faces, “Black” is the first and only descriptor that comes to mind.  I guess being Black ain’t what it used to be.  I have the same problem with this bullshit as Cocoa Fly does.  Women darker than the ones shown in this article use Carol’s Daughters’ products.  In fact, sistahs of all colors were the ones who put Lisa Price on the map…and to hear that this whole thing was her idea?  Either Steve just threw Lisa under the bus, or she really did come up with such a bullshit idea…and money will be lost because of it.  No self-respecting dark-skinned woman should spend her hard-earned loot purchasing products that excludes her, or makes light (pun intended) of her skin tone. 

Sadly, I’m not surprised.


  1. "Polyethnic" is the new "post-racial."

  2. I honestly don't know how to approach this. I keep remembering how Mixed Chicks earned the wrath of a lot of black women when they tweeted that they're #TeamLightSkin. Yet I haven't really seen/heard/read any blow-ups about this case. Hmm.

    It could well be that CD is expanding their market reach, but this could have been handled in a better fashion IMO. One of the mainstream natural lines I buy (because mainstream is ALL you can get in BSS here) use both dark and light women in their marketing, 'polyethnic' or otherwise. I'm just saying that they better go carefully with this new campaign, and not learn the hard way like Mixed Chicks.

  3. Correction - I checked back on a natural hair blog, and people are side-eyeing the hell out of this ad campaign. Ruh-roh...methinks Carol Daughter's base will be responding with their purses, and not in a good way.

  4. Do people still use CD nowadays? Target's suspiciously named "ethnic hair care" section in my hood sells Miss Jessie, Mixed Chicks, Shea Moisture, etc. There was too much work in trying to get to a Sephora or a Macy's "black enough" to carry CD so I stop using that stuff a while ago. Methinks other people have been doing the same thing and CD is losing money to competition. Unfortunately this campaign is pretty misguided and will probably blow up in their faces.

  5. I didn't know Mixed Chicks had that kind of campaign. Of course, I went natural just last year and so just recently became aware all of these products. I need to read up on that.

    Either way, it's all bullshit. Carol's Daughter is going to lose money if they continue with this absurd campaign. If green is the only color that matters, you'd think people would be trying to reach the largest consumer base possible.

  6. *Facepalm*

    First I want to say that the WWD cover in the article makes me feel as sad as Solange looks behind the no talented Cassie and whoever that other person it. Personally, I'm not surprised. Can't explain why....

  7. When I saw the ad I was definitely disappointed that they didn't include more skin color diversity. All 3 of the new spokes models are the exact same shade.

  8. Because we all know the American definition of "diversity": exclude everyone else.

  9. Hi I'm glad you addressed this, and I'm more happy to have found this blog.I found you guys through racialicious.

    But I had to ask myself when I first seen the Carol's daughter ad "Why do they say they are going for a multi ethnic look and then pick girls who are all as light as a paper bag?"
    "Where was Amerie or Tatyanna Ali and many other darker skinned multi raced/cultured individuals who are not that color?"Why were they all around the same color even though this is not how all multi race/culture people look.I know people with the same parents who are not the same color,myself and my siblings included.Oh well,just some more of the same old, same old.

    Although I have to say I saw this coming from a mile away when Jay-Z and Will Smith got involved in Carol's Daughter and I really wasn't surprised.The fact that Steve Stoute spoke out on behalf of the company let's us know who's running things and it ain't Carol.Not anymore.


  10. @Modest-goddess & Ankhesen Mie

    It's very convenient when a company get popular dark skinned women never seem to be apart of it. I'm still upset of about CD changing some it's ingredients so it doesn't work for my coily hair anymore.

    Solange looks lost it that picture like they put her in there at the last minute just to please the natural hair crowd.

    I just don't understand why CD would leave out he very women who made them popular in the first place. I'm glad I switched products a long time ago.

  11. @ Amaya - It wasn't a campaign, per se. Just a really stupid decision to tweet that they were #TeamLightSkinned while using the company's Twitter account. Even if that is there personal opinion, throwing corporate support into that stupid, divisive Twitter war was a real dumbshyt moment - and, going by the blogs, women were PISSED.

    Even now, Mixed Chicks is said to be in a lawsuit with Sally's over that company allegedly copying their product, and most reactions from blog comments were of the "Yea, whatever. Screw MC!" sentiment.

  12. ^Whoops! Should be 'THEIR opinion'.

  13. Didn't you all get the memo? With America being forced to be more "politically correct" by accepting their "multi-ethnic" identity, the not-quite-black woman has become "new black woman". It's just more palatable to mainstream America, that way.

    Us dark-skinned girls--despite OUR ethnic makeups--well... I'm not sure what we become.

  14. Lol. Since when was Louisiana Creole not considered black? As a half Louisiana Creole myself, sure, there's French, Native American, and Spanish in there, but the black is there, too. A lot of the time Creoles are more black than anything else. I know my mother's entire family considers themselves black.

    The entire article disturbed me, but I am perplexed that being half black and half Creole is considered "polyethnic." Um...I guess, but the other races make up a small percentage. I just have never heard of a half black half Creole considering themselves mixed. I also have never heard Beyonce or Solange refer to themselves as mixed. It's just very odd to me. And Carol's Daughter done effed up.

  15. @ The Girl

    I just have never heard of a half black half Creole considering themselves mixed. I also have never heard Beyonce or Solange refer to themselves as mixed.

    I'm glad you brought that up because I thought I must have a missed a memo or something. I too have no recollection of the Knowles' sisters playing the mixed-with-something card. If anything, I recall that Beyonce was darker-skinned back in the good days, and now...not so much.

    I didn't realize havin' some Creole in you was time/fame sensitive. I didn't realize that once you got rich and famous, the Creole gene kicked in and suddnely made you 2-3 shades lighter than you were, complete with blonde weave that you claim to dye with L'Oreal.

    Seriously now...does this polyethnic talk remind you all of anything? Because I'm not shocked these campaigns/articles are emerging at a similar time frame, spouting the same bullshit message.

  16. @ Ankh

    The Beyonce skin thing made me ponder then I saw this picture and I couldn't agree more.


  17. @ GoddessMaverick

    For the love of Moi, what the hell happened to her?

  18. Beyonce inc needs to stop with this "Creole" shit. I find self professed "creoles" to be particularly pretentious. I'm 50% Asian. Just like probably 98% of the black community.

    So .....what? Does this make me susceptible to racism leveled at other blacks?

    Me: You called me a "nigger"? Why sir: do you not know that I am 1/2,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12 Asian/Latino/White/Purple. Now don't you feel silly?

    ....No it's quite an understandable mistake to make. Mmmmmhmmm."

    People act like that makes a difference to people in or outside the black community, and you know thats what this self labelling is about: perception.

    I understand wanting to not automatically be perceived as something just because you belong to a certain group but emphasizing or embellishing details about yourself is such a childish way of doing it.

    If you think you are fooling ANYONE, you are probably only fooling yourself, and look somewhat silly for doing it.

    I lightened my skin and and wore 50 pounds of "Marilyn Monroe Blonde" lacefront now I can pass call myself off as "KreyOLE". GTFOH!

  19. Hmm I don't understand what you mean, Selita Ebanks isn't mixed she says she's a black woman, If she was mixed I'm sure she would say my dad is this, my mom is this, but obviously her parents are black. Now with Solange, if someone is has a quarter of something that's non black I don't consider them mixed because I mean majority of Black people have a quarter of white in them and they are considered Black, so the only one who is mixed is Cassie(Black, Filipino, Mexican). Maybe what you mean you want darker Black women?

  20. Also they should have removed Cassie with Solange or Gabrielle. Mixed women shouldn't be up there.

  21. @GoddessMaverick & Ankh:

    I just looked at that Beyonce link: Wow! I mean, I know she used to be darker back in the day, but seeing it pictured like that...jeezum crow. She looks a hot fire mess. Bad enough that she thought her God-given curves were too curvy and sought to lose weight. My opinion? She's listening to a gay white man tell her what a beautiful woman looks like. She obviously doesn't have two neurons to rub together or something in her would have spoken up at the utter ludicrousness of the idea. But then we're talking about a woman who needs to have answers to simple questions scripted.

    @Nimbooda: What I mean is that if you're going to represent beautiful Black women, then you need to have ALL shades represented. But what the article wants everyone to believe, IMO, is that lighter-skinned women represent the entire gamut of Black women. Steve-O's comment that America is becoming "polyethnic" or "colorless" demonstrates this. Steve-O doesn't say specifically (in the portion of the article that Jenee cites) that Solange, Selita or Cassie consider themselves anything other than fully Black. He's just using them as a generalization to justify his statement.

  22. I just read over on Necole Bitchie Lisa Price talking about the controversy, big eye roll.

    Carol’s Daughter Lisa Price Speaks On New Multiculturial Campaign, Criticism and Expansion


  23. @Ankh
    If anything, I recall that Beyonce was darker-skinned back in the good days, and now...not so much.

    So it wasn't just me. And then she had the nerve to let a French magazine darken her skin supposedly in homage of Fela Kuti. smh

  24. No surprises here. Colorism is alive and well in the 21st century. We talked about the slave mentality in another post. It's being played out w/this campaign by CD.

    Black people have more shade variations than anyone on the planet. What's the pblm w/that representation CD? Prepare to lose $$$ over this dumb ass maneuver.

  25. @ Aminah

    Thanks for that link. The discussion was hilarious, but confirmed a few things for me. Like, I never bought CD because of the price, but now I'm reading the quality was on the decline anyway.

    Either way, Lisa Price fucked herself. Non-black women don't give a damn about her products. And now, she's given black women a new reason to withhold their cash.

  26. Everyone says the quality of the ingredients changed when Carol's daughter became available at Sephora. I bought the Hair milk from Sephora in 2008 and it did nothing for me. People used to rave about how great it was. I gave mine away.

  27. @MG

    I had the same experience with the CD hair milk last year. I read so many raving reviews about how great it was supposed to be, but it did absolutely nothing for me. I ended up going with the Kinky Curly curling custard and it was well worth the money. I love that stuff!

  28. @Amaya Oh I see and yes I agree with you, they could have had Gabrielle Union, Megan Good, or Sanna Lathan up there, they act like lighter Black women are the prettiest, it's ridiculous.

  29. I have heard of CD ,but never bothered buying any of the products.

    I will never profess to be a great marketer,but if this is Lisa's idea of taking her products to a new high, then she needs get rid of Steve. She's opening her door to her business demise.

    She claims that she want to go multicultural with her products,yet she cannot talk about diversifying them when she excludes dark skinned women. It would be ok to use multiracial models,if she was fair to add dark skinned and other skin types in her advertisements. I don't know about Lisa,but I would feel uncomfortable with a man whose idea of beauty looks more White than Black. That is a horrible message to send to WOC.

  30. As if poly ethnic somehow excludes dark skin.

  31. Sorry its just the logic behind this marketing campaign. To me including no talent P whatever jump off Cassie AT ALL, completely negates any possibility that I might pay attention to them.

  32. My feelings on the matter will be demonstrated by keeping my wallet closed. I'm just a monoethnic Black lady and according to CD, my money just isn't as special.

  33. This is just another way of telling black women that they aren't pretty enough if they are not mixed/light skinned. And what exactly is polyethnic anyway? By their definition, most black women are polyethnic! What about mixed women with darker skin or just plain old black women? I say this campaign is BS!!!

  34. "most black women are polyethnic! What about mixed women with darker skin or just plain old black women?"

    Exactly! Not all black-mixed women have beige skin and flowing, loose hair. Also, what - us regular old black women don't have beauty needs + money to spend? It's a crying shame when companies like Avlon do more to add black diversity in their ads than CD. Expanding your market doesn't mean leaving the ones who gave you your start in the dust.

  35. @Emmeaki
    Cosign. I find the most luck with products that aren't specifically marketed to "black women" but to "a specific hair type". One of my girlfriends has extremely thick, coarse curly hair and she's Sicilian/Romanian.

    We trade beauty tips and hair regimes all the time. She likes Kinky Curly, still thanks me fore recommending it to her.

  36. Should I count myself lucky that I wasn't familiar with either Lisa Price or Carol's Daughters? Obviously, the borg have successfully assimilated Ms. Price. Ladies, if this woman doesn't want your money, don't give it to her.


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