#PoeticLicence: How dare the sun rise for such a campaign to see the light of day? #clicksadvert
By Rabbie Serumula
The racist TRESemmé advert reminded me of the second time I was with Activist Zulaikha Patel at a youth day event.
It was in 2018 at Eyethu lifestyle center in Mofolo, Soweto.
I was introduced to other members of Kids of Biko, a youth organisation Patel is an ambassador of.
There I met young lions with voices of power. I could feel heat oozing from their chests.
Too young to be burning, but steam sprayed out of their nostrils when they breathed out.
When they spoke, flames of consciousness warmed the room.
Eyethu lifestyle center is two streets away from my grandmother’s place in Mofolo.
I was surrounded by home, that smell of dust in the air in the township. Surrounded by home, by poetry, by conscious, beautiful, Black, young minds.
I worry about the weight these young minds carry on their shoulders.
The dead weight of internet trolls who made light of this racist advert.
Like it was about hair in general. Like it was not about racial injustice.
Like it was not depicting black women’s hair as damaged, dry, dull and frizzy, while describing white women’s hair as normal, fine and flat.
How dare the sun rise for such a campaign to see the light of day?
When did mother nature adhere that her children's shoulders aren't broad enough to carry the burden of their natural hair?
They shame it. Do they DREAD how it LOCKS, how it puffs and withstands the elements?
There is no answer to how many eyes went through the advert before it reached the public's eye.
Not only was TRESemmé advert racist. It was too unnecessary.
We have just come from the controversial advertising firm McCann and its client, technology company Microsoft, who asked New York based visual artist, Shantell Martin, to paint a Black Lives Matter mural “while the protests were still relevant”.
We can see the trend. We are aware. We are conscious.
But it was too unnecessary.
And the trolls put further unnecessary pressure;, like when you are a child, leaning on a shack. And they would tell you ‘don't, it could fall over’.
But it withstands winds. It is only susceptible to water, to fires,to family feuds, to graves under beds. The weight of your frail body is unnecessary pressure to a sturdy shack.
How dare TRESemmé try to make us forget that our hair is the galaxy.
That an afro comb is a comet, trail blazing upwards, sparking static?
To the trolls; were we not all celebrating Hair Love?
The 2019 Oscar-winning animated short film by Matthew A. Cherry, that tells the story of an African American father learning to do his daughter’s hair for the first time?
Were we not saying this was a vivid, impactful SYMBOL OF BLACKNESS?
The first time I was with Patel was at the book launch of the Black Consciousness Reader.
She was featured in the book and came for discussion.
With her towering mane, and fighting spirit, I remember thinking she reminded me of American activist and author, Angela Davis. Not only because of the hair.
But also because of that MAJESTIC HAIR.