WATCH: EFF shuts down Clicks stores in the Western Cape over racist hair advert
Cape Town - Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members in Western Cape have heeded their national leadership’s call to close all Clicks stores in light of "unrepentant and perverse racism".
The protest come after the furore of images on the Clicks website portraying black hair types with captions reading "Dry and Damaged" and "Frizzy and Dull" and white hair types as "Normal" and "Fine and Flat".
Whether this was a case of outrage marketing or shock advertising, a strategy used to deliberately create uproar or offend to garner more focus on the campaign, online users have criticised the store, with some calling for a complete boycott.
On Monday morning, the EFF started their planned week-long occupation of Clicks stores, with members singing and dancing outside of multiple stores in Cape Town.
Yusuf Joseph from the EFF in the Western Cape said: “We are here today after the call was made by all members to support the closure of the different stores. We are here at Goodwood Mall, and we have successfully ensures that this store will be close.”
Economic Freedom Fighters members protesting outside a Clicks store in Goodwood, Cape Town. The health and beauty...Posted by IOL News on Monday, September 7, 2020
A small group of Economic Freedom Fighters members outside the Clicks store inside Protea Glen Mall in Soweto. The...Posted by IOL News on Monday, September 7, 2020
In an interview with 702’s Breakfast with Bongani Bingwa, Clicks CEO, Vikesh Ramsunder spoke about the incident and the threat of closures by the EFF.
“I understand that, but I need the time to resolve this. I cannot take back what has happened. You can see as a company, for over many years we have been transforming, but I have a lot of work to do.
“The only thing we can do now is ensure that train and reinforce, and raise the issue of racial sensitivity and diversity. We have a programme that we have been running, but I’m going to accelerate that.”
On Sunday the EFF said the implications of the images “are that black identity exists as inferior to the identity of white people”.
“It is an assertion that white standards of beauty are to be aspired to and the features of black people represent damage, decay and abnormality. This characterisation is the founding stone of anti-black racism, and the EFF will not tolerate it,” the statement said.
The party said all 880 stores should close from today and reopen on September 12 or EFF would shut down the stores.
Junior Data Scientist Siviwe Boyce said with growing celebration of People of Colour (POC) beauty, it should be expected that a major retailer such as Clicks be aware of the political nature and sensitivity around skin and hair.
“I see history repeat itself through those images and the controversial captions. It's almost like the pencil test has made a return to classify which type of hair is deemed good hair.”
The Movement Trust Managing Director Sandi Ndlovu said that in 2020, retailers could not claim they were unaware of the political nature of POC hair.
“Our hair has always been used as a tool to make us feel inferior. We were conditioned to believe that if it is not straight, we are not as pretty. We were even categorised in race groups because of our hair. Our parents used hot iron combs to straighten our hair so that we can look "decent". It literally took an intentional shifting for us to accept that our hair grows up and out and that it is absolutely gorgeous and does not take away from our value.”
Clicks Group has since removed the images from its website.
“We recognise that we have a role to play in how we represent our diverse customer base in our own and supplier advertising and we sincerely apologise for failing you,” said Clicks chief commercial officer Rachel Wrigglesworth.