Dear Old Navy,
You had a tough weekend. Like many of us tend to be victim to at times, you posted a photo via social media that you’d hope to receive a good response to. Perhaps even ring up the price of clothing on the sale you advertised. I understand, we all have expectations and hopes when we post a picture that potentially could work out in our favor, and I’m sorry in your case it was the latter.
I’m sorry that for the next week you will be a trending topic on blogs, social media, and even the news, but won’t create the conversation the picture so deserves.
I’m sorry that the representation of family your ad projected beautifully was met with discrimination, bigotry and racism that many are unaccustomed to, but I am.
I’m sorry that because ads like yours are so underrepresented on a commercial and global scale in the media, arts, entertainment, and public platforms that people are so disturbed by an image that distorts their views of culture and race. That the imagined bi-product of this man and woman’s love is such an eye-sore to some of your consumers they would be willing to “protest,” and “boycott,” your company. Most of all though Old Navy, the people I’m sorriest for are the internet trolls who are so ignorant to the beauty of diversity that they cannot stand the image of it in all its radiance and glory when we come together and blend to become multiracial.
Being a product of an interracial family it warms my heart to see a portrait of a household I could relate to growing up. For many of us who are “mixed,” or “biracial,” this ad reflects our complicated history with race and culture. Those of us who are accustomed to the “What are you?” “Which parent is what race?” and “What side do you identify more with?” questions understand and sympathize with potential life this fictional child could have growing up. People who have been in an interracial relationship or marriage can understand the head turns when you walk down the street hand in hand, the discomfort from family members and friends unaccustomed to stepping outside cultural boundaries, and the infinite amount of defenses made in regards to your potential choice in a partner.
We get it. We understand what this picture means for us, and though it may be complicated and ugly to some, it makes us proud. Proud of the representation of love that knows no boundaries and a small step forward in the giant machine that is working against the whitewashed norms of advertising to showcase all love, beauty in different sizes, and gender friendly campaigns for its consumers. We thank you for reflecting our reality even if it makes people uncomfortable. Mixed love is beautiful love whether it’s black, white, brown, red, or yellow, it is extraordinary and powerful. The only suggestion I could make if any, is to go past the standard “Mulatto,” black/white dynamic that most people attribute with being bi-racial and push further, harder, and more diverse in the future for your campaigns.
A Multiracial Consumer
In case you didn't see the hate on social media, here is a sample: