Information Kuwait

Another Blackface Situation

A local coffee shop called Blend launched a new campaign for a black-colored soft serve by using a visual of a guy in blackface. The guy in the photo is the local photographer @bonmr who is known for superimposing himself onto photos. Both Blend and Bonmr turned off comments on the photos after people started protesting their use of blackface.

As of this morning, Blend have completely removed the photo from their account while Bonmr still has the photo up with the comments disabled.

You’d think after the huge backlash last year after the popular Kuwaiti makeup up artist Ghadeer Sultan posted a photo of herself in blackface that people finally understood the negative connotation behind it. I guess not.

89 replies on “Another Blackface Situation”

So what if he used blackface? What is so wrong about that? He isn’t doing it in a bad way to make fun of blacks. Remember the movie “White Girls’? How come no one got their panties in a bunch over that. Stop blindly following American wokeism. Racism is absolutely wrong and is very much alive and well in Kuwait, but not in this photo.

Very true. Racism is all over this country, yet you pick the one example where no one is disparaging a race and highlight it. There might be a negative connotation to black face in american history, but this is not america, and we don’t have to live by their rules. Muslims freed the slaves hundreds of years before america even became a country, and we don’t have to live with their guilt and emotional baggage. Concentrate more on the real racism that is extremely prevalent here.

They’re actually the exact same situation, one guy pretending to be Asian in one ad, the other guy pretending to be black in the other. So you can’t think one is ok and the other isn’t.

No they are not the exact same situation. By pulling your eyes slanty you are not pretending to be asian, you are making fun of asians. ANd neither of them offend me because I am not a snowflake, but I still don’t think the asian one is right.

@Mohamed, Saudi and Kuwait had slavery until the 1960’s! And in Oman it lasted until 1979! My father recounted a story of how African children were being sold at Friday Souq for as little as 100 fils!

this comment is lol. We have modern day slavery here in the gcc, and till this day no action has been taken. Buying someone’s freedom and taking away their passport and rights isn’t modern day slavery?

And about the Asian eye pulling, this isn’t racist cause you aren’t Asian. It has nothing to do with being a snowflake, it has to do with being a respectful human being who was raised right. I assume you’re an Arab, if someone in the west offends you and your family for being Arabs and start doing typical things to offend Arabs and Muslims, will you stand still cause you’re no a snowflake and walk away? I highly doubt it.

Hi Mohammed,

I don’t know which rock you’re living under but ‘Muslims freed the slaves’.. really?

Tell me then why interracial marriage is still VERY frowned upon in every part of the Arab world? Why families worry that mixed kids would look “too black” or “like they were left out in the sun”.

Until this day, Arab women are discouraged from tanning too much to avoid being associated with blacks as it’s not in their beauty standards.

I think you confuse being a ‘snowflake’ with being considerate towards the effect of allowing actions such as blackface to continue and normalize micro & major-aggressions towards multiple racial stereotypes.

Slavery existed in Kuwait til the 1960s. That’s 100 years after US abolished slavery.
It’s a fact.

Kuwait got independence in 1961 lol. Plus we all know banning something is just a signifying act and not a truth for all territories, hence why there were slaves in the south UNTIL the 60s. Nevertheless the immense SYSTEMIC racism that exists in the US. The US is in no means a “saint”

White Girls? Seriously? Please point me to any point in history where white people were prosecuted, murdered, lynched and made slaves among other terrible things.

You can be against “American wokeism” as you eloquently put it without making dumb statements like that.

So blackface is wrong but whiteface is ok because the whites did not enslave each other and sell their own people to blacks in Africa. Yup that’s a great point.

Typical privileged mind set, since it’s not hurting you it’s not bad right? The problem is that they are using back face make up in their marketing to make a profit. This has nothing to do with “American wokeism” and everything to do with black kuwaitis being discrimination against in walking life but yet being used to make a profit in these silly advertisements. Why in the world would this be okay? Because you don’t belive in “american ideals?”. Fighting ignorance is not an American thing, its foolish to think otherwise.

Apart from the problem of blackface and the blindness of “its not making fun of blacks”
WTF is he holding ? Dead ringer for the poop emoji!

The only blindness is following someone else’s rules where context is the most important thing. No one would find that offensive except for americans. People of all races globally wouldn’t think twice about this advert.

Some will be offended by anything for any reason. We don’t have to cater to every whim. Its only offensive in american culture, which is not kuwait culture. Some idiots might be offended because they didn’t include the pronouns of the dude in the photo, should we care about them?

I bet you’re a person who would absolutely lose their shit if someone said something you considered offensive to Arabs or the ME. Wouldn’t you?

You’re right. The nazi salute and the swastika are also only offensive in Western countries, glad we can finally use them in marketing here 👌🏻

It looks tone deaf, what do dark-skinned people have to do with dark ice cream? It’s absolutely ridiculous! And just because you don’t find it offensive, doesn’t mean others will feel the same.

“black face” became a thing because American actors in America painted their faces black. And this became an issue because Americans owned slaves and abused them.

How any of this is relevant to us?! This is just a guy who Photoshop himself into different situations and in this photo clearly he was pretending to be a popular barista from a coffee shop.

Would you be offended if he talked in Lebanese accent?!
Would you be offended if he called himself Mark?
Would you be offended if he tried to imitate your look and changed his skin-tone or hair color?

Actually, first sentence from the link you shared in your post itself…

“Blackface became popular in the U.S. after the Civil War as white performers played characters that demeaned and dehumanized African Americans.”

And people here never owned slaves and never abused them? Still very relevant here. If not more. Thank you for highlighting your ignorance of history.

He might not be or he might be, however black people, at least most black people don’t find this funny or acceptable. That’s the difference. I have black relatives who are Arab and they didn’t appreciate this advert. On the anniversary of the Gulf war, he makes photos of himself pretending to be part of the resistance fighters. I take offence to that and I mention that to him every year because I’ve had family members who died in that war. Would it be ok for him to make a photo of himself next to the line of royal family members of Kuwait? No. That’s what appropriation is. It’s not a western thing, it’s an everywhere thing, you haven’t felt it because it didn’t step on your toes yet. Let him Photoshop himself as a leader of Kuwait, let’s see what Kuwaitis will do. There was a guy who had an American flag and a British flag flying above a Kuwaiti flag in Kuwait a few years back, people went to town on him cuz they thought it was disrespectful. There is over the top cultural appropriation activists and there are things that make sense don’t confuse the two and try to see things from different perspectives especially from the perspective that is affected.

How is this relevant to us?

Take off your rose-tinted glasses and look at how people of color such as Indians, Filipinos etc. are treated in the Arab region.

Tell me that’s not slavery. Tell me that’s not oppression against a targeted and marginalized race.

I would absolutely be offended, just like I’m offended everytime someone opens a mexican restaurant and they stick to hurtful stereotypes to advertise their crappy food. Knowing nothing about what my people go through, just because the ice cream is black doesn’t mean they have to paint black face! People are more than just a color. They could have used charcoal, the night, some dark painting, literally anything else but they decide to paint their face black. Ridiculous

there is no space for bigotry and racism. this blackface edit does not amount to anything except controversy which it has achieved. your world view is warped and you need to assess yourself. this is not snowflake or PC or leftist. it is common decency to maybe not perform an action that was practised to mock and humiliate an entire race.

Because everything that happens is turned into a racial issue.

A tasteless photographer photoshopped himself? Let’s bring US racial problems and pretend as if they are relevant here…

A drug addict commits a crime against his mother? let’s bring his nationality and call it the cause of the crime…

A madman murders a woman that shunned him? lets blame it at his father nationality and the citizenship system…

COVID vaccine distributed to certain age groups and certain vulnerable communities? Let’s call it nationalism…

The “racism situation” is there because of social media and the paid accounts that are promoting racism.

I see you trying to defend something that does not make sense, No the racism situation is not there because of Social media, but yes it is being brought to light because of social media.

Belive me when i say this, I am not of African Origin, yet i am dark skinned, and the number of times i have been referred to as Aswad is not even funny, maybe you are not racist, but believe me it totally exists here.

it’s normal … seriously it’s over hyped

the whole black racisms is an American thing , not a Arab thing

The Arabs are mostly in Asian / African Zones ( majority of Arab countries are located in Western Asia, Northern Africa, Western Africa, and Eastern Africa. )

the only racisms between Arabs are not color it’s ( it’s which country your from and which sect of religion you are from AND if you are an expat in the country )

Let him Photoshop himself as a Royal family member. You know the picture that shows the lineage of the royal family leaders, let him Photoshop himself there. See how people would eat him alive. Let him Photoshop himself next to a reglions figure see what people will think. See what you will think. Let him Photoshop himself in picture that are is private between you and your family and see how you feel.

My upset about people’s response is not that they don’t agree is that they don’t ask why people are upset. Your not black, you won’t get it. When I watch stand up comedy and someone dumbass starts talking crap about Arab people or Islam it upsets me, hmmmm why doesn’t it upset him I wonder. CUZ he’s not Arab or Muslim.

I think whether or not it is justified is not the question here. We should aim to be an inclusive society and not try to spread any sort of hate or offend anyone. If people are upset, then it should be considered offensive and removed as the brand did, I am sure they didn’t have ill intentions, may be he ate so much ice cream he became the same color. Either way these posts should be avoided as we really don’t need more to argue about and we should promote unity. Its obvious by disabling comments that the resistance is purely ego driven action.

So if an African guy wears a Kuwaiti ghutra to advertise a machboos restaurant in Namibia will anyone be offended? Enough with the stupid woke garbage.

Yes they would. Have you ever asked someone if they get offended? You just assume they won’t to justify the actual action.

Do is Arabs get offended when we are portrayed as terrorists and then treated badly when we travel just cause of a silly movie?

It’s not about being woke, it’s about being educated.

As a Kuwaiti, Leena, I don’t believe I would get offended. Actually, I’ve been giving ghitra and egal as souvenir gifts to foreign acquaintances. At best they’ll have the ghitra around their necks when its cold. Most likely it will be part of Halloween custom!

Well 3azeez, when you become GLOBALLY marginalized & exploited and in turn are labeled as ‘lower class’ because you were purposely put there… only for you to become media’s favorite a few years later and then to have people use your cultural identity because it’s “cool” now by the SAME people that abused you… then come talk about having even an inch of the same experience. Being black is nothing like being Kuwaiti or Arab.

People here sure lack empathy huh?
I feel like most of the people defending this ad have their heads buried in sand. Who cares if blackface isn’t an offensive thing in Kuwait? If it’s a fucked up issue people are dealing with in the US (or anywhere else), then we should be supportive of them because they’re fighting for their right as humans to live in a world and not be judged by the color of their skin.

That’s a very wrong way of thinking. Do you realize how many hundreds of millions of Hindu Indians are very deeply offended that you eat cow meat. Do you want to stop doing that to be supportive? How about the millions of PETA/vegans that think eating any animal products is akin to murder. How about the lgbt crew that think calling a man a he and a woman a she is wrong. How about the millions of Jews that think using the name of god (Allah in Arabic) is deeply offensive. How about even right here at home the millions of wahabis that think pictures or drawings of any animate thing are sacrilegious. Wanna accommodate them too?

Are you seriously comparing Racism with people’s beliefs? Like, I get that you want to seem edgy and anti-woke or whatever, but your logic is so completely flawed I don’t even know where to start. The history behind what black people have endured (and let’s be honest, still dealing with) in North America, Africa and Europe speaks for itself. Not to even mention how they’re treated like caricatures in places like Japan. If you can’t find it in yourself to feel empathy for what other people have dealt with and you want to come up with more inane arguments than I don’t know what more I can say.

“People here sure lack empathy huh? I feel like most of the people defending this ad have their heads buried in sand.”

You’re the one lacking empathy! People are not defending the ad. People are explaining that what is offensive in other cultures is not necessarily offensive in this culture.

Blackface is not something relevant to our culture or past or present and is not interpreted the same way someone from western culture would interpret it.

However, making fun of a person because of their skin color is something people here can understand and feel offended about.

The blog post is not about “hey look he’s making fun of black people”. The blog post was “look, he’s doing black face”.

Get it?

To those who are defending from different points of view.

1. Bad publicity is good marketing. This means that your marketing team lacks the creativity to do actual marketing. Disregarding ethics for the sake of money is not acceptable in 2021 where brands are now trying to go ethical and this is the direction you are going for? Says a lot about your personal ethics and work ethics.

2. So what it didn’t offend anyone? You are probably from a different ethnicity saying this. If there was an ad that is targeting your ethnicity you probably won’t say the same. It’s the same when the west portrays Arabs as terrorists and we all know the effects of that, but on a larger scale.

3. Racism is everywhere. Well, it’s everywhere because people refuse to educate and change and still goes with that “everyone is racist”. And if you think that way says a lot about you and how you see other people. Change has to start within you don’t you think?

At the end, you justifying racism says a lot about you. And then when you travel and people are racist towards you, you come back complaining and crying about your rights to be respected. It’s not about being woke, it’s about not being an ignorant individual and start changing your behavior instead of hiding behind your ego.

Is wrong. Attempting to conflate a simple picture of a black dude holding a black ice cream with a terrorist stereotype. SMH.

@Chip, you completely missed the point of Leena’s comment. They were talking about how harmful images of racial stereotypes can be!

Thank you all for speaking on our behalf, but you are mostly wrong. I am African from Kenya and I lived in Kuwait for 12 years. That advertisement is not offensive to me or any black person I know. A few years ago there was an icecream advertisment here that showed a kenyan woman turn into a blond blue eyed woman after eating a local brand of icecream. So please stop speaking on our behalf, that is much more offensive than this good natured advertisement.

So true it’s really normal this whole offensive thing is only offensive in an American culture.

Thank you for sharing your good words.

So now we are letting american decide what is offensive and follow them like sheep. In Hinduism, cow is sacred, does that mean we can’t show pictures of dead cows?

You always disappointing me when you post feminist or American wokeism bs.

As a cow I find this comment very disturbing.Moooo

Seriously though, damn the feminist views , send them all back to the kitchen /s

Thank you Mark for posting about this. This guy, talented as he may be, does not listen to people. Every year on Feb 25 he makes photos of himself being part of the Kuwaiti resistance and o always comment on how wrong and honestly disrespect it is to use a day like this for his advertisement. Because it not art. I have family members who died in that war.

And even with black face I comment and posted but he still doesn’t listen. He’s very self-centered.

Meh, as an American myself, I don’t see why the entire world needs to adhere to western social norms. Blackface is offensive in the west because it was used in old movies to mock and misrepresent black people – in a movie industry where black people were not even allowed to work in. That dark stain on American history has nothing to do Kuwait or Kuwaiti social norms. Furthermore there is no indication that this ad was trying to mock black people. So why the outrage?

As an African American person seeing this in Kuwait, I find this highly offensive. That should be enough. It simply means others are mocking black people still. The pain is still there even if you don’t feel it. Thanks Mark for recognizing the hate.

“Thanks Mark for recognizing the hate.”

Is it though? Is the guy in the ad doing this out of hatred?
Mind you, I don’t like this photographer guy at all. I fucking hate seeing his stupid looking mug photoshopped on ads everywhere, but that’s a different subject.

This isn’t surprising. Most people who open up “coffee shops” today are just unoriginal morons.

The first thing that came to mind, is how does using blackface reinforce their promotional message for the black icecream? What do it add to the selling point? It looks pointless.

Before I say my opinion, I just want to say that Racism is wrong in all forms.

Now, I had zero knowledge regarding what is blackface and the history of that word before reading up this post.

So before reading about blackface, I seriously thought that there was nothing wrong with this adv. and it felt like a genuine adv.

After reading this post and reading about blackface, I doubt that this was a marketing stunt, and whoever was behind this adv seriously does not know about blackface like me who didnt know until I read this post.

that being said, If they think that their post was racist then they did the right thing by taking it down.

what come to my mind is, is there any legal view on such controversial post that might or might not be racist?

Racism is wrong. I’d be offended by a non-Arab wearing a Dishdasha and acting on stereotypes; however, a foreigner wearing local outfits as genuine cultural participation is very much welcomed. The same can be said of sculptures of Africans – they can show beauty or be representations of racist forms. Where racism is obvious it is completely unacceptable.

If the subject of the photo had used prosthetics to exaggerate African features – that would be racist. It goes without saying that skin tones have a broad spectrum and I would hope that celebrating that shouldn’t be thought of as unequivocally racist. A tan is not a racist provocation of brown people nor should any color be thought of as an inherent act of racism.

If the ultimate mark of tolerance is not seeing color then why are we so quick to point something as silly as makeup? Justice should not peak from under her blindfolds.

Sorry, but to those of you suggesting that this is not a problem in Arab culture, this is an US problem!!! ARE YOU KIDDING?

This is SO very an Arab problem! Saying otherwise exemplifies the silencing of Black Arab voices and goes to heart of why racism is such a problem.

“Why would Kuwaitis care about the issues Black Americans find offensive? We are Kuwaitis, they are Americans.”

That is the premise of your argument. Your understanding of Arab culture, and what hurts and offends Arabs, what matters to Arabs; is limited to how you see Arabs – and that doesn’t include Black Arabs.
They exist, remember?

And their welfare , and thoughts, and beliefs, and culture, is ALL of a part of Arab culture. If it matters to them, it matters to Kuwait. It is an Arab problem.

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