By Pinky Khoabane
Yet another racist advert emerged last week – this time, a Black woman having used Dove’s body lotion – a Unilever product – turned white. Like all the other racist adverts that have met the backlash of consumers, it was followed with a lame apology about “missing the mark in representing women of colour thoughtfully”.
Radio 702 recently posted a tweet comparing two Black toddlers with dogs: “Aaaw! Dog VS baby…who’s cuter? Go ahead and evoke those broody feelings…”
It was later changed to: “Aaaw! Babies and dogs participating in the #MTN702WALK will evoke those broody feelings‚” referring to the popular radio station’s big walk
Primedia Broadcasting issued an apology following a public outcry: “We apologize unreservedly for an offensive tweet published today. You have every right to be angry and offended. We strive to uphold the highest standards in our communication with you”.http://www.702.co.za/articles/265538/we-d-like-to-apologise-for-our-tweet
Before that was the Outsurance racist Father’s Day advert which used only white men with their children. In response, OUTsurance posted a short tweet to apologise for the advert. “We apologise for our Father’s Day video. It did not appropriately represent SA’s demographics. It was an unintentional oversight”.
We’ve covered extensively on this platform, the racist practice by First National Bank (FNB) in charging Blacks in the low cost housing market a different interest rate to that by Whites. This bank owes these Black people billions in Rands overcharged in interest rates. These are among the poorest – their houses having just cost around R60,000.00 but after 21years, they still owe the bank more than the original bond amount.
We’ve also brought you stories of how the same bank treated a White man, now DA Councillor Simon Lapping, when he was in arrears of only R400 on his overdraft and credit card. He was treated like a king. Paid R3,500 to close his credit card and overdraft. The now CEO of FNB, Jaques Celliers, offered him R100,000.00 “to go away”. He was given a home loan of R125,000.00 despite being unemployed and having had a bad payment record on his other bank accounts. And into that home loan, FNB deposited R155,000.00 and his transfer fees of R7,000.00 were also paid.
Contrast the paths of the Black clients (there are thousands of them) and that of the White man Lapping. The Blacks ripped off by FNB have been waiting to go to the Equality Court for years and have their day but FNB has been employing delaying tactics. Some of these clients have even died waiting. Some have had their houses repossessed. When I went to see them earlier this year, one of the complainants stood next to what used to be his house which was repossessed after he missed a few repayments as a result of being retrenched. He said he never knew for how much the house was sold. He now lives in a squatter camp.
The White man, on the other hand, sent an email to FNB and by the next day he had the attention of head of credit, Celliers and a deal was put on the table. He only got his payment of R155,000 three years later because he wanted to cheat his wife out of the deal as he was going through a divorce. He’s now a DA councillor.
This is the same bank that fired four Blacks for supporting the ANC. How many of its staff including it’s ceo support other parties and are still employed?
Here’s the thing. Blacks are the majority in this country. We are a power bloc. If we decided to boycott these companies tomorrow, business will shift and our economy will shift.
Boycotting these companies is the one way we can exercise our consumer power by deciding where to spend our money and where not to. Spur restaurants are in trouble financially following the incident in which Nico Viljoen accosted Lebohang Mabuya in front of children and threatened to: “Ek sal jou ‘n poesklap gee.” Translated from Afrikaans, it crudely means: “I will give you a cunt slap.”
There’s always that argument that a boycott can harm the people it’s meant to protect but this is the pain that must come with protest.
But when well-targeted and strategically executed, consumer boycotts absolutely should be part of our arsenal against racist corporations.