Cosmetic giant L’oreal is being criticized for firing its first ever transgender model, Munroe Bergdorf, after she stated online that “all white people are racist.”
Bergdorf’s comments, which she claims were made in direct response to the violence that erupted at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last month, were picked up by the Daily Mail just days after she revealed she was chosen for L’oreal’s diversity campaign.
The DJ and activist from east London announced on her Facebook page on August 27 that she was proud to be part of L’Oréal Paris’ True Match #YoursTruly campaign that stands for diversity.
Following the article, L’oreal Paris UK issued a statement on Twitter confirming it had ended its brief partnership with the model stating her comments were “at odds with our values.”
L’Oréal champions diversity. Comments by Munroe Bergdorf are at odds with our values and so we have decided to end our partnership with her.
— L’Oréal Paris UK (@LOrealParisUK) September 1, 2017
The tweet was trolled with many questioning how the global make-up brand could call itself a “champion of diversity” while others promised to boycott their products.
how can you claim to champion diversity and then fire her for speaking out against systemic racism??
— Hayley (@HixxiDustButt) September 1, 2017
She was literally standing up for diversity and against white supremacy. WTF L’Oréal. I guess I won’t be buying your products again.
— Emmeline May (@RStarDinoPirate) September 1, 2017
Bad bad decision. Using diversity when it serves you to profit from but firing a trans WOC for talking about HISTORY.
— Emma Hope Allwood (@emmahopeall) September 1, 2017
“Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes ALL white people,” Bergdorf said in the original post.
The model clarified her comments on Facebook explaining that she was addressing the issue of systemic racism.
“First up, let’s put my words in context, as the Daily Mail failed to do so. This ‘rant’ was a direct response to the violence of white supremacists in Charlottesville. It was not written this week,” she said.
“When I stated that “all white people are racist”, I was addressing that fact that western society as a whole, is a system rooted in white supremacy – designed to benefit, prioritise and protect white people before anyone of any other race. Unknowingly, white people are socialised to be racist from birth onwards. It is not something genetic. No one is born racist.”
In another post she urged people to boycott the brand stating that the company only cares about money.
She told the beauty brand that if it wants to “offer empowerment to underrepresented women, then they need to acknowledge the reason why these women are underrepresented within the industry in the first place.”
“This reason is discrimination – an action which punches down from a place of social privilege. We need to talk about why women of color were and still are discriminated against within the industry, not just see them as a source of revenue.”
“Racism may be a jagged pill to swallow, but I suggest you force it down quickly if you want to be part of the solution,” she added.
Bergdorf and others also called out The Daily Mail for taking her comments out of context.
Solidarity with my sister @MunroeBergdorf having to deal with hell from the Daily Mail today – we should all be alarmed by this tactic
— shon faye (@shonfaye) September 1, 2017
In the last 3 months, @MunroeBergdorf is the second LGBT person of colour to be attacked by the nasty DailyMail for calling out racism.
— Ashiwaju Bisi Alimi (@bisialimi) September 1, 2017
Social media users have mostly jumped to the model’s defense, criticizing L’oreal for exploiting and dropping an outspoken transgender woman from its ‘diversity’ campaign.
L’Oréal is hereby cancelled.
Munroe Bergdorf spoke openly about the TRUTH that white supremacy underpins our society. You’re all pussios. https://t.co/u21ZjgwGyv
— Kelechi Okafor (@kelechnekoff) September 1, 2017
L’Oreal’s response is not only to fire her, but to justify it as part of their commitment to diversity and inclusion.
— En Sabah Moor (@AndrayDomise) September 1, 2017
I notice that Cheryl Cole, convicted of punching a black toilet attendant in 2003, is also part of this campaign. Why not drop her too? https://t.co/NmLQCZcsIu
— Reni Eddo-Lodge (@renireni) September 1, 2017