Sainsbury’s aim to “represent a modern Britain” received backlash after it was criticised for releasing a Christmas advert featuring a black family.

On Saturday 14th, the supermarket shared the first of three Christmas adverts on Twitter.

The one-minute-long clip, titled Gravy Song, features a heartwarming phone call between a father and daughter as they share their excitement for Christmas and their hopes of spending the day together amid the coronavirus crisis.

Tesco has allegedly since dropped the black family they were intending to feature in fear of backlash. Actress and Model, Vanessa Vanderpuye, called out Tesco for cutting her and fellow model, Ezekiel Ewulo, out of a Tesco advert, allegedly shot back in September! ‘Below is her video explaining the events.

A postracial society?

Britain predicates itself on the staunch idea it is a post-racial society, a society where race is irrelevant. The reaction to the advert is a marketed indicator that this is not the case. Black people want to be judged for their talent, not skin colour, whilst recognising the difference we have in the world from being black.

The below tweet is collated by @thevoiceofcolour.

According to the 2011 Census, the total population of England and Wales was 56.1 million. 86.0% of the population is White. 3.3% of the population is made of Black ethnic groups.

London is now home to more than 8.6 million people, 44% of London now consists of black and ethnic minorities

London is a bubble, and as a result, people who live there often have a myopic view of the UK, forgetting there is more than London. London has a lion share of the black population, whereas the outskirts are much smaller. This advert will reach black families all across the UK in the most remote areas, letting them know you matter, you are not alone, we see you.

A black family is incredibly striking why? Black families are rarely on television and its promotion signifies a powerful black love. In a world where black women are underlooked, underrepresented and underappreciated, seeing a black man love a black woman is simply poignant.

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Some of the responses were reminiscent of when David Vance asked Rashford “there is a disproportionate problem within the (UK) Afro-Caribbean [sic] community of black men abandoning their pregnant girlfriends.. can you confirm whether you have met your father?”.

This is a callous stereotype and diversion, as both detract from the positivity imagery Sainsbury’s created and the work Marcus Rashford did for families in poverty.

David Vance has since been removed from Twitter.

What make money makes sense

Remember when Colin Kapernick, Raheem Sterling, and Caster Semenya featured for Nike? Colin Kaepernick kneeling at an American football game, Raheem Sterling facing the racist tirade at Chelsea’s home ground. Caster Semenya was discriminated for being intersex.

Nike featured each individual, not because Nike cared, it’s because jumping on the bandwagon of social issues increases brand awareness, firms profits and increases customers under the false pretence that these companies care. Companies gauge the customer’s sentiment thus using this to forge new corporate social opportunities. Its called ‘woke washing’, flirting with politics under the false pretence that they are in love with social justice. Furthermore, they are commodifying the social movements reducing their political value and integrity trying to “out purpose” the competition, without really carrying the values and morals of the movements.

My criticism does not take away from the instrumental changes and paths these athletes paved. I question the companies intentions. Woke washing is the new corporate normal, consumers have fallen head over heels for their disingenuous ways. I argue Sainsbury’s have done the same.

In a world proliferated by various social movements, companies that do not swim the current tide are left behind. They are left between a rock and a hard place.

The backlash was in fact upon first glance “whitelash”. Racism is cancer because it envelopes the human existence. The reaction to the Sainsburys advert showed us this, but it’s not the first time. I do not confuse companies representing black people as an altogether positive. If companies did this before it made money they would hold my respect a lot more. Do not fall prey to the corporate pandering of our emotions. Real change must happen, beginning with us where we control our narrative and represent ourselves.

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Shaun Flores is from Trinidad & Tobago, the home of carnival
In 2018 he became a TEDx speaker speaking on the failures of multiculturalism. He is also a commercial & fashion model.
MA in Race Media and Social Justice
BA in Criminology & Sociology

He hopes to study a PhD 'The absence of paternal masculinity in the black home'.

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