People are complaining that the facemasks are racist as they resemble 'blackface'. The issue has been raised after Gucci and Katy Perry were embroiled in the blackface row products.
There's no doubt that racism is a huge issue and needs to be constantly addressed and called out. People across the world are trying to eradicate everyday racism but are unfortunately met with a lot of resistance. This is caused by people from other communities using racist words and phrases as "humor".
It's not okay to call people calling out 'overtly sensitive' because the sensitivity comes from a place of shared trauma. Although it is important to keep what dilutes the conversation in check.
Not that people who are not POCs (people of color) don't give us reason to complain. In 2017, a group of white college girls applied charcoal face masks and spoke about how they are finally "black". A student from the University of South Carolina caused controversy when she uploaded a picture of herself wearing the face mask and making an absolutely racist comment.
The student posted a 'joke' for the Black History Month, which is an important month for POCs who try to amplify voices of black men, women, and transpersons by highlighting the socio-economic struggles they face. The student's "joke" was to sport a charcoal face mask and take a selfie of herself and use the 'Young, Black, & Proud' filter that was created to honor Black History month. An entire month that is dedicated to celebrating the traditions, the culture, the freedom the black people got from racism and slavery, and also remembers all those who fought for equal rights and representation. People are educated about black culture and history. Their traditions are celebrated during this month.
The Snapchat photos were shared on Facebook by another student from the university, with the caption, “THIS is why it’s important and absolutely NECESSARY to celebrate Black History Month. It is a celebration of all of the accomplishments and the struggles we have overcome to better ourselves in this world. However, ignorance is still existent. This girl is an EMBARRASSMENT and I hope the university deals with her accordingly.” Followed by this, students from different universities across the country started to put on the facemask and took pictures with captions such as "feels good to finally be a n----" and another with "black lives matter"
Instances like these are what offend people, and rightfully so. Sometimes, in the rightful outrage, it also causes the anger to shadow anything to do with the offensive incident. For example, there are people now who are claiming that charcoal face masks are racist. While the outrage is understandable, it makes one question if the there's solid reasoning behind the idea. If someone is accused of being 'overly sensitive', you can't blame them. Racism is nothing something people can joke about, it is a serious matter. It has been decades since slavery has ended and since black people have got their freedom but this does not mean they're given the same socio-economic status and non-POCs. It does not give people of other races the freedom to use the n-word even casually or as a joke. They cannot use the facemasks to promote the 'blackface' all over again. This ruins what black history month stands for. This dilutes the culture and tradition. If racism is taken lightly when said as a joke, it will lose its weight and importance and so will the tradition and culture behind it, the struggles behind the freedom against racism will lose importance. It is a sensitive matter cross the world and should remain that way.
Millennials- the forever aggrieved generation! What next?A charcoal face mask is now racist? pic.twitter.com/sdjk8DbFOR— ThotsAloud (@ThawtsAloud) February 18, 2019
The issue resurfaced on Twitter recently when people started to accuse the users of the charcoal face mask racist, however, they did face a lot of backlash for taking things a bit too far. A user said that it looked uncomfortable, similar to 'blackface'. The reason blackface has been condemned so much is that the make-up that was used to stereotype black people and their culture was often portrayed in a very negative light and was inherently racist. People believe that the charcoal face mask is nothing but blackface in disguise. The face mask is a peel-off mask that is black in color but does nothing but removes pores.
USING A FUCKING CHARCOAL FACE MASK ISNT RACIST OMFG. EVERYONE IS TOO DAMN FUCKIN SENSITIVE!— Madz (@0410_maddie) February 19, 2019
According to SioBeauty, the face masks have activated charcoal in them, giving them the black color. The ingredient apparently helps draw "bacteria, toxins, chemicals, dirt, oil, and other micro-particles to the surface of the skin." The ingredient is used in multiple products, from toothpaste to even muffins at times. The whole idea of the face mask being racist shows that people have become overly sensitive and misunderstand every small thing. Try to make these things bigger than what they are by putting them in a negative light.
One person on social media wrote: "Racism is so insidious that you can promote blackface for years under the guise of 'pore mask' and it goes unchecked." Another added, "Aren't we ever going to address how the charcoal mask takes blackface up to 11? You put it on, it looks really racist, then you pull off the black to get flawless skin." However, there are others in support of seeing it for what it really is, a face mask. One of the users commented, "I use this charcoal face mask for men and this is getting bloody ridiculous! How is this racist? Sorry to all you snowflakes out there but we would like clean skin and we won't stop using it!"
People need to know that not everything that is said or done is racist and things are often misunderstood. People need to question things and clarify them before jumping to conclusions. Let products be products, do not read into them. Reading into everything and calling everything that is black, racist, also dilutes the movement in a way. A lot the users who disagreed with charcoal masks being called racist, were POCs. Using the face mask to promote blackface was wrong and something that needs to be dealt with very seriously. However, not everyone using the face mask is trying to be racist. Celebrate the freedom, support what is right an stand up for the injustice (that is usually done openly). Let's stay sensitive. But let us also stay sensible.