The only thing worse than being punched in the face is being slapped in the face. The only thing worse than being slapped is being spit in the face. That is, in fact, what the infamous Gucci Blackface turtleneck was. Not only did they spit in the face of Black America, they “hawked” before they did it. And the only thing worse than being spit in the face is having to wipe it away with your own hand.
The real question is not why Gucci released a product so insulting to its core consumer base. The real question is why so many Black people see this as a funeral for the culture. The answer is rooted in the “identity crisis” of Black America caused by 464 years under the cultural assault if White Supremacy and Black inferiority. When Black men, women and children have been taught that their Blackness is a liability, they are always looking for something to add value to self; not understanding that who you are (not what you wear) makes you valuable. The problem is, most of us don’t know who we are.
I remember being in middle school seeing the older children wearing “LV” and “GUCCI” sweatshirts. They were knockoff versions, but nevertheless very popular. I remember asking what the hell is “LV?” As Black youth we were programmed to believe that wearing name brands like these would blind society to how poor our families really were. We used our bodies as billboards to promote brands that never gave back to the “sacrifice zip codes” we grew up in. The truth is, when our forefathers were enslaved, the plantations owners used “brands” as identifiers of the slaves they owned. What do we look like still being addicted to White folks’ brands in this day and time?
Name brands have been used as self-esteem builders for Black people for decades. They’ve also been used to facilitate disunity among the classes. A high school student who wears Fendi is viewed as “better” than a student who doesn’t. We’ve been sold the lie that we need designer brands to increase our worth. The real truth is they need us to remain relevant and increase their bottom line. We should thank Gucci. I don’t know about you, but I like my anti-Blackness overt; not covert. Gucci “hawked and spit” in your face. Now, what are you going to do about it? It’s time to take our power back!
There is only one way to wipe the spit from our faces. Boycotting won’t do it alone. Don’t get me wrong. When a corporation disrespects you or your community you should respond by taking your business elsewhere. That is the intelligent and dignified thing to do. However, that’s no longer enough. Boycotts have a beginning and an ending. They have start dates and finish lines. Time dictates that we “permanently boycott” corporations like Gucci who blatantly make mockery of our suffering while raking in millions of hard-earned Black dollars. The only way to wipe the spit from our faces is to make a lifestyle of supporting our own businesses. Buying Black can no longer remain a fad among us. Buying Black must become a way of life.
The most effective boycott is to support your own. We must mature to the point that we see Black-owned products as symbols of success; not European-owned name brands. The only way to success is for us to support one another. If you feel a sense of pride when you buy Fendi, Gucci and other brands, but not when you buy from your own brother and sister you should rethink your position. Spend your money with your own and wear it with the same pride as you did those designer brands. Promote what we own the way we have promoted what they own. If you are going to become a walking billboard for a brand, be a billboard for your brother; not your oppressor. It is time for a change in our thinking. We must think for self, do for self and show our love for self by building an economic base in our community. Nothing else will work. This is the only way to wipe the spit from our faces.