A short letter to my fellow well-intended White people: please stop posting pictures of yourself wearing a ‘cleansing mask.’

Dear well-intended White people,

I’m writing to you today to make a simple ask: please stop posting pictures of yourself wearing a face mask. I know that for most folks the intent is simply to promote a product that has brought you joy, or that it feels silly to post a picture where you’re looking ‘a mess.’ The intent for most folks is not to exacerbate racial stereotypes or to perpetuate practices that tokenize people and cultures. However, we need to be careful and cognizant of the ways in which our actions as White people can cause emotional and psychological harm on communities of color, even when that is not our intent.

Just recently we have seen fashion conglomerates, such as Gucci, Burberry, Zara, H&M, and Prada promote products featuring images that make light of the horrors experienced by oppressed people. All of them have responded with apologetic and ‘we didn’t realize…’ narratives. Give. Me. A. Break. You’re telling me that no one along the way raised an eyebrow about a model walking a runway with a noose around her neck?

Ignoring our part [White people] in granting permission for the continued caricature of entire cultures by making excuses for ignorance is just plain wrong. While I am not suggesting that there is a social agenda attached to the exfoliation of facial pores, in most cases, I am suggesting that we need to do better. We need to recognize that while it might feel like just a silly picture posted to a social media account, it may likely be felt as a trigger and disrespect by lots of folks looking at that picture.  It’s not cute, White people; please stop.

Blackface has long been used as a tool to oppress Black and Brown folks.

To be clear, I love [love] my charcoal face mask product from Benevolence Farm, here in Alamance County (by the way, you can support second chances by purchasing items in their body-care line!). However, the difference between me wearing it at home as a body-care strategy and posting a picture of me wearing the mask is that the former is for self-care while the latter selfishly dismisses the harm and oppression experienced by an entire culture.

Click here to learn more about the history of blackface through the National Museum of African American History & Culture’s website.

❤ Jenn