Is This Toilet Paper Company Guilty Of Cultural Appropriation?

They promoted a new line of paper with the slogan "black is beautiful."

Well this was dumb. Image Santher

A toilet paper company has been forced to stop using the slogan “black is beautiful” to promote a new line of toilet paper after being accused of “cultural appropriation.”

The new all-black range of loo rolls was initially launched by Brazilian firm Santher alongside the familiar slogan. To make matters worse, the company also employed a white model, Marina Ruy Barbosa, to promote the new Personal VIP Black toilet paper range. 

It didn’t take long for racial equality activists to hit out at the claim, with writer Anderson França raising a series of pertinent points in a lengthy Facebook post:

“People died so that this expression could be revered until today. People continue dying and this expression is more important and vital than never before … But in Brazil if you key in #blackisbeautiful you are going to find ass paper.”

The Santher advert.

Santher has since moved to scrap the campaign and use of the slogan.

At this point, it’s probably worth revisiting the context behind the term “black is beautiful”.

The phrase was first coined by campaigner Steve Biko, a man who fought against South African anti-apartheid right up until his death, at the hands of state security officers, in 1977.

The phrase continued to be used by activists in the years since, making the appropriation of it in this particular context all the more galling.

The Santher advert.

The firm’s marketing manager Lúcia Rezende defending the campaign to G1 in a statement: “Black is beautiful. The colour has always been considered an icon of style and refinement.”

Despite your stance on the matter, the use of the phrase in this particular context does come off as tacky – imagine if they had an advert with Martin Luther King declaring he “had a dream” and it involved bog roll.

More to the point, the idea of black toilet roll sounds painfully misguided – how on earth are you supposed to know when you have finished?

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