Pepsi commercial undermines real justice by trivializing rioting and protests

In Opinion
(Cathryn Edwards / Daily Titan)

Once again, Kendall Jenner has cashed in on the struggles of black American culture and other minorities by performing in a recent Pepsi commercial which made light of protests against police brutality.

This commercial shows Jenner participating in a photo shoot then suddenly shifting her attention to a nonspecific protest.

Though the commercial featured many people from different cultural backgrounds, Jenner received backlash for her performance which resembled a famous photo of Ieshia Evans, a Black Lives Matter member from Baton Rouge who protested against many armed police for the death of Alton Sterling.

The photo is similar to the scene that shows Jenner handing the pepsi can to the police officer, but in Evans’ photo she stands stoically as officers carry her away.

While some might argue that the resemblance is just the media reaching for a story, the problems are much deeper than inept copying.

“People freaking out about the new Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner are actually reaching for something to complain about. I see nothing wrong,” said Zach Kaplan? (@zkaplan04) in a tweet.

What this Twitter user, and others on his side, clearly don’t understand is that by downplaying the seriousness of the situation, there can never be a serious conversation about why people of color are constantly fighting for their basic human rights.

Although Pepsi did issue an apology last week for the miscommunication, it still doesn’t remedy the statement already made. Further, the apology was extended to Jenner for the anger that has been subsequently projected on to her.

But apologizing to Jenner shows the company doesn’t understand the problems that the commercial had.

By promoting this commercial, Pepsi is undermining citizens who are part of minority cultures by placing Jenner, of all celebrities, in the lead position to fight for social justice.

What is most interesting is that during such crucial times as the Ferguson riots or the shooting of Sterling, Jenner never publicly spoke against the violence against black people and other minority groups.

Even worse, is the message that all it takes is offering a Pepsi to solve all of the social injustices that occur constantly within this country, like police brutality against black people. This is infuriating because black people and other minority groups have protested peacefully for equality and have been sprayed by water hoses and attacked by dogs in return.

“If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.” said @BerniceKing, the daughter of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., in a tweet.

There are multiple reasons why using Jenner as an advocate for racial equality is problematic.

Not only does she not speak up about police brutality and the violence people of color experience, she is also a rich white woman benefiting from white privilege. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think her experience of oppression is far less than those who are actually protesting.

There are other celebrities–like Alicia Keys or Rosario Dawson–that Pepsi could’ve used in order to promote their slogan of “Live For Now Moments Anthem.”

Alicia Keys publicly protests against injustices that minority groups face. She even started a no-makeup campaign to celebrate women and their natural features, something that Jenner can hardly be seen doing for young women within her modeling career.

Dawson is widely known for being heavily involved in politics, notably supporting Bernie Sanders for president in 2016 and getting arrested for protesting in 2010 and 2016.

Jenner’s appearance in this ad shows what companies like Pepsi really think about movements against racial inequality. The Civil Rights Movement did not happen in the ‘60s for companies and citizens to profit off of bigotry.

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