There has been a huge uproar over a commercial that Pepsi released featuring reality personality and supermodel Kendall Jenner. The commercial focused on topics of diversity, unity and more importantly, the Black Lives Matter movement. In the commercial people of all races, genders, ethnicities and walks of life stopped what they were doing and joined a large group of people in protest. The commercial showed Jenner, who was in the midst of a photo shoot, stop, take off her make-up, wig and clothes and join the protesters. She then goes and grabs a Pepsi and walks up to an officer in line and hands it to him. Upon his acceptance of the Pepsi, the crowd cheers. Although there is no dialogue or conversation in the commercial, we do hear the Skip Marley song “Lions” playing throughout the commercial.
Many people have had a negative reaction to the commercial, accusing Pepsi of trivializing the Black Lives Matters movement. They also feel that the commercial makes light of the experiences of protesting.
Martin Luther King’s daughter Bernice King, tweeted about the commercial saying, “if only daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.”
People are also throwing blame at Kendall, saying she is not the right person to represent the movement and accusing her of making light of both the movement and the experiences of protesting.
Pepsi has since released an apology stating, “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” the company wrote Wednesday in a statement. “Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”
As a black person, I found nothing wrong with this commercial. I believe people are being very closed-minded and hypocritical and that they don’t understand what Pepsi was trying to do with the commercial nor why things like this commercial can beneficial. First off, we need to acknowledge the fact that Pepsi and Kendall Jenner intentionally put themselves on the line to show their support for a movement that is designed to rectify an issue that is claiming the lives of many African-American people in the United States. This is a big deal because not many, if any, big and established non-black organizations and personalities have come to the aid and support of the Black Lives Matter movement and quite frankly this reaction and backlash shows why. We ask and beg people to support the movement, and then when they do, if it’s not in the way that we would want, we judge, berate and bully them.
It is expected for black people to come out in support of their out own community and quite frankly that’s why there has been limited changes. No one cares! Everyone is going to support their own, but people start caring when more people of different races and walks of life come out to support and take a stand, it gets noticed and that was Pepsi’s main point in the commercial. The Pepsi can that Kendall handed to the officer was supposed to be a symbol of peace like in the case of the ‘flower child,’ where a female protester stuck a flower on a gun barrel during a protest. If everyone unified and came out to take a stand, peacefully, we can’t be ignored and things would have to change. If it wasn’t for the help of President Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr. wouldn’t have gotten the rights for blacks that we have now. In order to succeed we need help from someone else. We can’t do it alone anymore.
A riot is “a noisy, violent public disorder caused by a group or crowd of persons, as by a crowd protesting against another group, a government policy, etc., in the streets.”
A protest is “an expression or declaration of objection, disapproval, or dissent, often in opposition to something a person is powerless to prevent or avoid.”
There have been more riots than protests in a lot of the demonstrations for the Black Lives Matter movement. This by no means warrants the brutal and inhumane actions for the police during these demonstrations, but it does explain the lack of support. If during our demonstrations we are trashing local businesses, harming our own people and behaving like belligerent people, why would anyone help us? If we are hurting our own why would others think we want to help our own?
The protest in the commercial was both organized and impromptu as well. Those who were already march had a planned they stuck to it. They had their signs and chanted their lines, but they never once grew hostile or showed animosity. Instead, the more people that joined the more fun it became. Different people coming together, girls with blue hair and hijabs, boys with braids and Mohawks dancing, chanting, marching, making a difference together. That is what we need more of. We need more people to stand up and come together. As Skip Marley says, “we are the lions, we are the chosen, we gonna shine out the dark, we are the movement, this generation. You better know who we are.” We are one, so let’s stop being so cynical and closed-minded and become one.