A Chinese laundry detergent ad posted online Wednesday has been deemed extremely racist.
The ad for Qiaobi detergent shows an Asian woman doing laundry when a lecherously framed Black man appears with paint on his face. They exchange flirtatious glances until the woman signals for him to move closer.
Standing face-to-face, the Black man goes in for a kiss and just as he’s about to lock lips with the Asian woman, she stops him by stuffing a laundry packet in his mouth before cramming him into the washing machine.
After a second or two of hearing the Black man groan in pain and the machine shaking, he reemerges as a white Asian man, the cleaner version of the dirty Black man.
The commercial ends with, “Change starts with Qiaobi.”
The blatant racism in the ad caused several critics to voice their opinions on social media. But this is nothing new! Black people have often been perceived as dirty in Asia and other parts of the world because of their darker skin tones.
“In Asia there are heaps of whitening products from deodorant to face creams,” said international Acro Yoga instructor Millette Nunez, who has traveled to Asia several times over the course of her career. “It is harder to find products without whitening agents in them than with it. S**t is everywhere and this is, unfortunately, very real.”
Nunez is right. Take for example the toothpaste brand popular in parts of Asia called Darlie. It features a smiling Black minstrel in a top hat as the logo and used to be called Darkie, until the company changed the English name at the end of the 1980s.
The product’s Chinese name has remained the same, “Heiren yagao” or “Black man toothpaste,” and was originally inspired by when the company’s chief executive took a trip to the United States and saw famous blackface performer Al Jolson, who impressed him with how white his teeth were. In fact, Darlie is owned by Colgate-Palmolive, an American company.
Other parts of the world have seen similar ads such as a 2006 Italian commercial for detergent brand Coloria. The major difference here is that a light-skinned man was stuffed into the washing machine only to reemerge as a spectacle and fetishized muscular Black man. The ad indicated that “Color is better.”
Look at the commercials below and let us know in the comments if you found them to be as racist as we did.
(Photo: Jamie Grill, Getty Images)