The internet had much to say about a recently released ad for Ellen DeGeneres' Gap Kids collaboration line, GapKids x ED. On Monday, the company tweeted images from its ad campaign, captioned "meet the kids who are proving that girls can do anything." One of the pictures featured a white girl with her arm propped up on a smaller black girl's head.
@GapKids so basically little black girls can be arm rest!!! smh this is disgusting
The tweet grabbed immediate attention. White girls, it seemed to say, could apparently do anything — they could even use black girls as armrests. But as BET reported, actress Brooke Smith, the girl's mother, just chimed in with some crucial information the internet missed.
"They are sisters!" she said in one tweet.
they are sisters!https://twitter.com/MatthewACherry/status/716636540584140800 ...
"Girl with arm resting on her shoulder is her sister," she said in another tweet. "She didn't talk in [the] video because she was too shy. Everyone needs to calm down."
@TheRoot girl with arm resting on her shoulder is her sister She didn't talk in video because she was 2 shy. everyone needs to calm down.
Not everyone is satisfied with Smith's explanation. Sisters or not, the positioning of these two girls only reinforces an all-too-common portrayal of black people in American society, some said.
@Iam_BrookeSmith @GapKids Only a small fraction of the people who will see this as will ever learn this context.
@Iam_BrookeSmith @GapKids and even *with* the context, this is still off-putting. It really is.
@slb79 @GapKids This picture was said to be published "completely out of context". Is it art, @Iam_BrookeSmith?pic.twitter.com/vWm7JFApRV
Smith agrees that it might be a good idea for Gap to go with the other photos that came out of the shoot, and would like to have a frank discussion about "race in America" — offline. Because even if this is a big-sister-little-sister thing, it's also easy to see how it reads as casual racism, a reflection of troubling attitudes baked into American culture. According to BET, Gap has dropped the shot from its campaign.
@therealpeela I totally hear you. This is one of many photos that was taken. Perhaps they should just use the others then.
@Ojoyd I'm all for an open + honest discussion of race in America. Difficult to do in twitter land but open dialogue is always a good idea.