CORDERO SLASH | STAFF WRITER
Recently a L’Oréal ad has been released depicting singer/songwriter Beyoncé Knowles stating that her skin is a “mosaic of all the faces before it” (meaning that she is much more than just black). While this is a positive commercial in terms of diversity and making reference to Beyoncés diverse background, it does beg the question: is being an African American so stigmatized in today’s society, that many of us are compelled to emphasize other aspects of our ethnicity just to downplay the fact that we identify with the black culture?
In the ad she highlights that she has an African American, Native American and French background, and the first thing that I noticed about the ad, besides it downplaying the ethnicity and culture that she most likely solely identifies with, is that the commercial blurs the lines between nationality and ethnicity through the use of the word “French” to describe Beyoncé. French is not an ethnicity, but rather a nationality. I think our people are sorely misguided in a lot of cases, because it seems that when many black people note the features of themselves and others that are appealing it’s mostly because of the ethnic features they are composed of that are not black. We tend to see this in those who say they have “good hair”, and pretty eyes or skin. Many highlight what they are mixed with instead of coming to the conclusion that being black is appealing enough in itself.
The African American experience has been both a proud point in our history denoting our shared cultural heritage as well as a hindrance in the United States in terms of many important aspects such as with housing, employment, economic and social opportunities, but I for one do not feel as though it’s necessary or even pertinent to try and separate oneself from that, just because of the social implications or for this type of commercial.
It seems that many of us do this and I feel ashamed that we feel the need to separate ourselves because of the majority’s notion of what beauty or positivity looks like. There are all types of beauty and though one’s background does play a part in skin tone, I don’t think that different ethnicities have anything to do with finding your proper makeup shade.
I am a fan of diversity and of a person knowing all of the facets of their biological makeup. In addition to this, I am also not insinuating that Beyoncé is attempting to distance herself from the black community with her comments. At the same time, I believe this ad in fact attempts to do so whether knowingly or unknowingly. In most instances, I don’t see others separating themselves from their culture in anyway. In other words, if you are a white person then most of the time you’re just that. There are exceptions such as Italians or some Spanish Americans but that just makes my point; they fully accept that they identify with a specific culture so why can’t many of us?
I understand that being black is often seen as different things for different people and that being a black person often doesn’t mean that a person has just a single ethnic background, but the one thing that does bond us is our shared cultural and social experience, especially in the US. I feel that this L’Oréal ad is something that attempts to further divide us, we know that to the vast majority of people living in the United States we are in fact one. It is my opinion that we need to stop associating blackness with negativity, or a lighter complexion or mixed heritage as the defining characteristic of beauty, and be proud of the notion that black is still beautiful.