In the wake of the violent Charlottesville rallies that happened last month, black transgender DJ, activist and model Munroe Bergdorf called out white supremacy and structural racism in a personal Facebook post that went viral:
“Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people anymore. Yes all white people. Because most of y’all don’t even realize or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of color. Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this s***. Come see me when you realize that racism isn’t learned, it’s inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege. Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth… then we can talk.”
Munroe wrote this before she signed on with L’Oréal but it blew up when the Daily Mail caught wind of her post and published an article on it. On Munroe’s twitter she confirms that a white gay man named Adam Pennington had reported her post to the Daily Mail with the intentions of ruining her career.
She was receiving so much backlash that L’oreal made the call to fire her in the name of “championing diversity”. They responded to Munroe’s comments with a Tweet.
A black transgender woman speaking out against the oppressive system that endangers her life and many others, is at odds with their “values”? They proved the exact point that Munroe was making.
The white people crying out “RACIST!” at Munroe Bergdorf for her “yes all white people” phrase is unsurprising. When people of color voice out their oppressions, the responses of white people is not how to dismantle these issues, but how to silence them.
If Munroe had chosen “some” over “all” instead, it would allow white people to be absolved from taking any responsibility for white supremacy. It would allow for them to remain complicit in their contribution to structural racism, which was never the intention of her post. Monroe didn’t care about the comfort of white people. It’s just unfortunate that the situation was handled by centering white people and their feelings at the expense of her career.
L’Oréal’s values and ideas of diversity actually mean tokenizing, exploiting and silencing the voice of a black transgender woman. Corporate feminism is a farce. These major brands learn how to use marginalized identities to sell their products, not to give them a platform. L’Oreal showed us that they don’t value trans women or women of color. We don’t matter to them because we’re seen as disposable.
This is a list of L’Oréal brand names that you can boycott, and here’s a list of black owned beauty brands as an alternative. Please also support trans organizations, whether nationally or locally, and give your time and money to them however you can. Check out organizations like Trans Lifeline and Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) for starters. Always remember to support and uplift the voices of Queer-Trans/People of Color (QT/POC) in your life.
Pliab (Plee-ah) Vang is Hmong American. A feminist. An undergraduate senior at St. Cloud State University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. She enjoys talking race, gender, class, social issues and pop-culture and is passionate about Asian American and Pacific Islander issues. Pliab is a Master of Procrastination. She spends an unhealthy amount of her time binging (but never actually finishing) TV shows, scrolling through Twitter, and hanging out with friends.