Category Archives: american history

What I Think Wednesday:Gifts With Purchase, Do Black Lives Matter?

Given everything that has happened in the last week, well past 300 years, my heart is pretty heavy.  The only way to be triumphant in anything is to keep pressing.  Since my blog is called “Make up in Black and White” and addresses gender, class, and race as those topics apply to the vast world of beauty, I thought it would only be right if I discussed race this week.  I  am going to be very specific, and discuss one uber frustrating thing.  Gift with purchases that major companies give out for earning points, birthdays, holidays or for spending a certain dollar amount never include products that women of color can use when it comes to color!

Every year when Christmas season pops up, I am always working in a retailer that provides amazing goody bags chock full of skincare, haircare, and makeup.  When ever I service a client that has a deeper skin tone who has earned one of those goody bags, they always ask if the bag is even worth them spending the extra money to earn.  Depending on what brand/retailer I am working for, the bag is 25-75% useful, and obviously if they can use only a small fraction of the products, they choose to pass on the gift or GWP as we call them in the retail world.

Out of sheer curiosity, I would love to know how much it costs a company to make lets say a tinted moisturizer sample?  I happen to freelance for a company that makes the best tinted moisturizer but when ever there are samples made it is always in the third to lightest shade that the company offers.  Realizing that the shade is the most popular, I can’t help but to wonder what would happen if that same company made a test run of a deeper shade, put it in magazines geared towards women of color i.e. Ebony and Essence to see what kind of return on the initial investment of making the samples in the first place.  I tell people all the time that just because you build it doesn’t mean “they” will come.  So for all of the cosmetic companies that offer make up for deeper skin tones, samples must be made in a broader range of shades, and marketed specifically to the demographics that speak to those women who have deeper skin.

To put it plainly, all lives matter so companies should do whatever they can to accommodate all people who do and could potentially become loyal supporters of their brands.  This for many of these companies would appeal to demographics that have tremendous spending power and have the ability to positively impact their bottom lines.

Bottom line?  Make the samples in a broader range of shades and market the hell out of them, its time!

Black Models Matter!!(Zac Posen says so!)

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After Beyonce shocked America with her political Super Bowl performance, Zac Posen decided to make a statement of his own.  During this months New York Fashion Week, Zac Posen made the choice to use mostly black models for his show proving that black models are just as valuable to the fashion world as any other.

Like Viola Davis said in her speech at the 2015 Golden Globes, “The only thing separating women of color from everyone else is opportunity.”She followed by saying “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

In this case, roles are replaced by runways, but the message is still the same.  Zac Posen you are appreciated!!

The Oscar Effect: Should I boycott certain makeup brands?

The Oscar Effect

A few weeks ago the nominations for the Academy Awards were announced and to many people’s surprise, there were hardly any people of color nominated! Oh what a surprise!!(sense my sarcasm?) Jada Pinkett Smith went on a social media rant proposing that people of color and especially black people boycott the show.  All this talk about boycotting had me thinking about my field and whether or not I should boycott the cosmetic brands that refuse to sell foundations for a broader range of skin tones, and what that would look like.  Most of the brands that I sell currently have many shades that would match any persons skin no matter what color, but there are brands that I have sold and sometimes still do that have nothing for darker skin tones.  I have had countless conversations with fellow retail make up artists, account executives, regional and national trainers, friends, and several other people about why certain brands offer no products for deeper skin tones, and the only answer that makes the most sense is that they just don’t want to!!

After reflecting even more about the brands that refuse to make foundation shades for deeper skin tones, the Flint water crisis, Donald Trump’s ideas on immigration, racial profiling and police brutality, and all of the other nasty things happening to brown and black people all over the world, my conclusion made sense.  I still wasn’t satisfied with my answer so I decided to start researching  brands one by one to find answers. I started with one that is extremely prestigious and offers a lot more than cosmetics.  This brand offers cosmetics, fragrance, clothes, shoes, and hand bags.  This brand is French and causes some women to skip out on paying rent to buy their hand bags. I have had several women tell me that they love using the cosmetics from this brand because pulling out the compacts make them feel luxurious!  Young teenaged girls also love this brand and the luxury and status that it promotes spending their parents hard earned cash on lipsticks just so they can pull them out of their backpacks and feel special.

The interesting thing about all of this is that luxury and status are important to many people no matter what color or how old they are.  In the era of Social Media striving for status seems to trump common sense so even if these brands that are so in demand care nothing about people of color, people of color still support them in droves! Some how if there was a “mass awakening” that caused folks of color to stop buying cosmetics from these companies that don’t really care about catering to them would it make a difference in these companies bottom line?  In the sixties when black folks boycotted the buses, those boycotts definitely hurt the transportation systems financially.

Would it help to create more brands specifically for people of color? I can’t help but think how black communities thrived during segregation.  Black Wall Street is a great example, so great that once they created their own educational and financial institutions among other things, the US government became threatened and wiped the whole community out!(just google the full story, I know your curiosity is itching to understand what I mean when I say “wiped the whole community out”)What would the effects be via social media? Would a successful boycott push brands to be more inclusive or not? Our current public school systems especially in poor and urban communities does not make the whole inclusive argument sound promising. Guess those are probably really similar questions that we can ask about the film industry right?

A Makeup Artists Two Cents: Concussion

Christmas day one of my good friends, who also happens to be a makeup artist, and I saw the movie Concussion.  We sat through it, and had tons of commentary. Im sure the couple in front of us wanted to get security to put us out, but they were nice enough to allow us to be ‘Chatty Cathy’ dolls.  We both related so much to the main character Omalu, a Nigerian doctor, played by Will Smith it was scary!  Now you may be thinking what do two  makeup artists have in common with a Nigerian doctor that discovered an awful disease which causes athletes that have had several concussions to experience symptoms like memory loss, hearing voices, and mental and physical pain that drives them to commit suicide?  Well lets point out the obvious similarities.

My friend is Nigerian, and I am African American, so the three of us are all of African descent.  My friend also has a brother that had a brief career in the NFL, who was obviously also Nigerian.  While I do not have any brothers that have played professional football, I do know black men who played football in high school, college, and the NFL.  Like Omalu, both my friend and I have advanced degrees, not eight like his character who was based off of a real person, but we have pieces of paper from institutions that are supposed to help validate our educational and social status in this country.  Also like Omalu, even when people know that we are educated, they still attempt to belittle us because of the color of our skin.  After seeing the movie, as I sat on a bench waiting for the metro, a woman rushed to take her purse off of the bench and push it behind her as if she was scared that I was going to steal it, also because of the color of my skin.

Any how, days after seeing the film, I came across a review about it written in the Washington Post.  The review was written by Stephanie Merry, and I thought she had done a decent job until I got to the end where  she said:

“”Concussion,” on the other hand, is a little more heavy-handed, especially in its handling of the narrative of a put-upon immigrant losing faith in the American Dream.  That thread only serves to overshadow a far more troubling story: one about the NFL’s stop-at-nothing smear campaign and how easily the public bought into it.”

When I read the paragraph above I was pissed, even without knowing officially that 2/3 or 68% of NFL players are of African American decent, Anyone could assume those statistics just from watching football on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday evenings!  For Merry to say that the story of the immigrant “losing faith in the American Dream” overshadowed the NFL smear campaign was just plain sad and predictable.  Omalu’s experience was just as important if not more because of the direct relationship that him and the 68% of NFL players have in obtaining the American Dream.  Omalu was a Nigerian immigrant, but Im gonna jump out on a limb and say that all people of African descent living in America are immigrants!  The only difference between Omalu and most of us African American’s is that he knows exactly what country he comes from.

None of our ancestors willingly volunteered to leave their homelands to travel on slave ships from West Africa to come and build a foreign country for free and witness the continual struggles of their off spring, but that is what happened earning us, the off spring, the title of immigrants. As far as his treatment in America is concerned, he is treated just like any other black man in this country.  Just from his appearance alone, the statistical data shows that he is more likely to end up in jail or dead when compared to his white counter parts, and just like me, when and if he is just walking down the street or riding the metro, eight advanced degrees or not, the same woman who was so quick to grab her purse when I sat down for fear that I would steal it would do the exact same thing to him.

As for the “immigrants” who play football in high school, college, or the NFL, the same argument can and has already been made for them.  Because the American Dream is so difficult for a person of color and especially a person of African descent to attain, tons of black families push their young men who are talented in football to be the best with the hopes that they go pro.  When those young men do, they are able to automatically take their families which are often poor from rags to riches.  Aside from the struggles that having dark skin in this country provide(Ferguson, Flint, Southside Chicago, South East DC) imagine whole families losing their men in their forties and fifties to a disease from the very sport that financially supported the family in the first place and helped to provide the “American Dream”.

I cannot help but thank the writers for showing an honest depiction of an African man trying to get his piece of the great American Pie.  It revealed for me that we are all in fact African and not American which is why the dream never quite happens for us the way we see it happening for our white counter parts( just ask Will and Jada).  It also made me think that Stephanie Merry needs to remind herself when she watches movies to check her own privilege.

 

The Invisible Woman

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Within the past few months, articles have popped up discussing the rise of a globalized world, women of color, and their noticeable increase in spending power in the world of cosmetics. Beauty Inc magazine, a publication that provides a behind the scenes look at all things beauty in the U.S and other countries, fastcompany.com and bloomberg.com both, publications focused on  business, technology, and design have all published these articles to name a few.  Fast Company’s article, “The L’Oreal Chemist Who’s Changing The Face Of Makeup”, and Bloomberg Business’s article, “The World’s Biggest Cosmetics Brands Are Finally Courting Minorities” both mention that in 2014 the “multicultural beauty products market grew 3.7 percent in the U.S., outpacing the growth of the overall market for cosmetics and toiletries.  This data means what exactly?  About ten years ago, I remember reading an article in Essence magazine, a publication that caters to women of color and especially black women, that provided some very similar statistical data.  The article stated that women of color out spent every other demographic in the cosmetics industry by large margins. Lets take it back even more.

Madam CJ Walker

In 1905, Madam C. J. Walker went down in history as arguabley the first female millionaire in America.  She made her fortune off of you guessed it, the cosmetic industry.  Recently I learned that before she made her millions, she had a mentor who also was African American, and also, was a self made millionaire.   Both of these women made their fortunes off of creating, manufacturing, and selling hair care products to women of African descent.  For those of us who remember high school history class, we remember that on those two pages that covered black history in our American history books, that black folks were not doing so well economically in the early 1900’s.  I mean, there was the “discovering of America” by Christopher Columbus, a strange “disappearance” of Native Americans, which left none of the Native American women to buy cosmetics, and then us.  When I say us, I mean Africans brought over as slaves to “help out” on plantations and in urban settings leaving us strapped for cash to say the least.  Even given those circumstances, shortly after slavery, somehow black women all over the U.S were able to make not one but two black women millionaires and several of their employees financially “comforatable” by purchasing their beauty products.

In summation, I would love to give a great big You can’t be serious shout out to all of these publications and cosmetic giants that have finally decided to stop ignoring me and women who look like me.  It has been proven by a ton of geologists and archeologists and anthropologists that we all originated from Africa.  It has also been proven that the remains of the oldest human belong to an African woman.  What does that suggest L’Oreal and Estee Lauder? It suggests that when Cleopatra, also African, was busy enticing Ceasar we had incredible spending power. It suggests that when the queen of Sheba was busy running an empire, she might have wanted to even out her skin with some clay that matched her complexion.  It suggests that Madam C.J. Walker knew that if she created hair care products that worked on her self that she could probably sell them to other women whose hair texture was similar. It means that Lupita, Taraji, Traci Ross, Jennifer Lopez, Coretta King, Assata Shakur, Pocahontas, YoNasDa Lonewolf, Vera Wang, etc … all deserve to not be ignored!!

Last question, since our spending power is proving to be the main catalyst for major cosmetic companies to finally see us, does that mean that money trumps race in the world of cosmetics?