A luxury toilet paper brand in Brazil has come under fire for a new ad campaign appropriating the phrase “black is beautiful.”
The Personal VIP Black toilet paper, launched on Monday by Brazilian-based company Santher, featured an advertising campaign starring Marina Ruy Barbosa, a white actress with red hair and blue eyes. In the ad, Barbosa appeared naked and wrapped in the black paper, with the phrase “black is beautiful” used to describe the toilet paper.
However, critics have pointed out that this phrase started in the 1960s and spread worldwide as a new cultural movement took hold. It was even used by South African anti-apartheid campaigner Steve Biko.
— Flávia Soares (@_fsvSoares) October 24, 2017
“People died so that this expression could be revered until today. People continue dying and this expression is more important and vital than never before,” Rio-based writer Anderson França wrote on Facebook. “But in Brazil if you key in #blackisbeautiful you are going to find a** paper.”
The company has since removed the slogan and issued an apology, but Humberto Adami, a leading black lawyer in Rio who chairs the National Truth Commission of Black Slavery, says that the most recent ad is only part of a bigger problem.
“When these adverts suggest this type of subliminal racism they should be removed, because they reinforce the teaching of racism,” Adami said. “This is very serious.”