Did Ellen DeGeneres approve this?
A GapKids X ED ad for the daytime talk show host’s clothing line has caused quite a stir and is a sad reminder of how, historically, Blacks have been used as props in photographs.
The retailer shared several photos from the ad campaign on Twitter Saturday with the caption: “Meet the kids who are proving girls can do anything.”
But one photo stood out among the rest.
As two white girls stand in various powerful poses — a handstand and a standing split — the third and tallest white girl stands in the center using the head of the only little Black girl in the photograph as an armrest.
Gap approving this ad to go public has caused many to accuse the company of being racist, and, really, just completely ignorant for not seeing it as a problem beforehand.
GapKids spokesperson Debbie Felix, who said the ad will be replaced with a new image from the campaign, apologized saying, “As a brand with a proud 46 year history of championing diversity and inclusivity, we appreciate the conversations that has taken place and are sorry to anyone we’ve offended.”
Too late! Social media was set ablaze the second the image went public.
“Hey @GapKids: how many staff greenlit this racist ad?” one Twitter user wrote. “Girls can ‘do anything’ inc using a Black girl as an armrest?”
Another questioned: “How does that picture pass the approval process. Way too many checks and balances in the ad game for that image to be approved smh @GapKids.”
“This new ad contributes to pattern of passive racism that is sadly the norm in media,” another tweeted.
Finally, one critic wrote: “I swear I haven’t heard a SINGLE defense of that GapKids ad that didn’t sound like it came straight from the mouths of white people.”
Not so fast!
One man, who appears to be Black, had a different view when he tweeted, “I could look at that GapKids ad 1000x & it would never occur to me that it’s racist for the white girl to put her elbow on Black girls head.”
He added, “Sometimes I think there needs to be mass therapy for Af-Ams. You guys find the most benign things to complain about.”
To which he was applauded by another, who tweeted, “The girl was much taller. People who complain have too much time on their hands rotting the fruit of their ancestors’ labors.”
But here’s an interesting twist posed by write Matthew A. Cherry, who posted an older ad that showed the same pose only this time it was a taller black girl using a shorter white girl’s head as an armrest.
“Does the @GapKids pic on the left make the pic on the right okay?” he tweeted with the photos side by side. “Let’s debate.”
Author Raqiyah Mays commented on the GapKids ad to BET, saying, “I think it’s unintentionally racist. But ignorance is the basis of racism. It’s racist because of the sad history of Blacks being used as props. Once the Gap placed itself into that historical category, they took on the weight of furthering fashion’s racist history.”