Munroe Bergdorf Versus White Fragility: The Backbone of White Supremacy

Munroe Bergdorf Versus White Fragility: The Backbone of White Supremacy

Less than a week after L’Oréal announced black, transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf as their first transgender spokesperson, the brand has decided to ‘end their partnership with her’ based on comments she made denouncing racism following the Charlottesville Nazi marches.

The statement they have taken umbrage with ‘All white people are racist’ is one paraphrased from her original post which said “Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people anymore. Yes ALL white people,” which she then expanded on, explaining “Because most of ya’ll don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour.”

Now for a white person who believes all people are equal and should be treated the same, this is a hurtful statement and one you probably disagree with. However, as racism is based on a historically established hierarchy which places white people and thus whiteness at the top of the pyramid, her statement underlines an inescapable reality about the way a lot of western societies were built into the superpowers they are today; on the backs of and at the expense of people of colour.

Based on this, ‘reverse racism’, which at the root is what most of her critics are offended by, cannot exist. Merriam Webster defines racism as ‘a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race’. Could black people be racist? Yes, if we lived in a society that places more value on the darkness of a person’s skin and had over centuries systematically established that superiority as fact.

Munroe’s firing is just another example in a long list of individuals who have lost out in the face of white fragility. The truth is that most people up in arms about her statement are those that choose not to examine the societal privilege that comes with being white and believe they are above question because they are not shooting people of colour on sight. Jason Osamede Okundaye is another example of this; after a tweet of his concerning racism in different communities was taken out of context and published as ‘anti-white’, he was subject to police investigations by Cambridge police and was forced to out himself online before he was ready to and before he had come out to his family. Both instances point to the fact people would rather punish the individual that points out racism than the racist – for fear of offending the racist person – thereby cementing their privilege.

In the aftermath of their announcement ending their partnership with her, Bergdorf wrote another status: “The irony of all this is that L’Oréal Paris invited me to be part of a beauty campaign that ‘stands for diversity’. The fact that up until very recently, there has been next to no mainstream brands offering makeup for black women and ethnic minorities, is in itself due to racism within the industry.” If L’Oréal is so concerned with “diversity and tolerance towards all people irrespective of their race, background, gender, and religion”, they would be better served backing the champions of diversity they have employed in the face of opposition, rather than validating hysterical and unfounded outcries from their oppressors.  

And to the white supremacy bystanders out there “Ain’t you tired Miss Hilly, Ain’t you tired?”.


Written by Weruzochi Chinasa

Fashion Editor

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