Why I’m Boycotting Shea Moisture

Why does it seem like every time there is an issue within the natural hair community it involves white people? Sigh, okay, let’s do this.

So you’ve probably heard the buzz about the new Shea Moisture commercial they were set to air. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at it below.

See anything wrong with it? Well I did, and countless other naturals did as well when they lit up Shea Moistures mentions on twitter and other social media sites.

Let’s start from the beginning, did you see any black women in that commercial? Sure, you had one light skinned woman who had loose curls (that could pass as biracial/ambiguous) but we’ll get to her later. Here is the issue, since the birth of the natural hair community, kinky haired black women have been the roots of it. Still, to truly understand what that means, we have to break down this so called #hairhate.

What is Hair Hate?

Hair hate, as Shea Moisture lovingly calls it, is a by product of racism. In fact, the two are really one. For decades, black women have been told that our hair is ugly, dirty, unkept and unprofessional. Companies only wanted to invest their money in ways that will cover or change black hair. Perms, wigs and weaves were always leading in sales in the black hair market. Black women were forced to comply if they wanted jobs, loans and basic human respect. Anything associated with black skin was seen as unattractive and unpleasant. If you didn’t follow suit, you were deemed poor, ugly and ghetto.

Then came the natural hair movement. Black women were seeing the long term effects of relaxers and unhealthy hair practices. Little by little, black women were swearing off relaxers and embracing their natural naps, kinks, curls and waves. Since no white company would touch it, black women came together and learned all about mixing different butters, oils and various other ingredients to help tackle the unique issues we had with our hair. Before you knew it, hundreds of small time kitchen Mixtresses were thrusted into the spot light and a huge market emerged to cater to natural hair.

Shea Moisture was one of those businesses. With the full support of the black woman’s dollar behind them, they were able to expand to stores around the nation. Having more exposure and reach that many black companies could only dream of. They consistently put out great products geared toward different hair types within the natural hair community and kept their ear close to the ground with their customers’ wants and needs.

Of course, like all good things that come from the black community, white businesses caught scent of all the money and support flowing and scrambled to put their bid in the hat. Juggernaut companies created sub lines focused on getting that black dollar. A lot of them failed to realize that old tricks in the past (putting just any ol’ thing in the product) was not going to fly and so they learned that if they really wanted to reach this new, educated black consumer, they would have to actually put some effort into it.

The true core of the natural hair movement was to combat racial discrimination while also undoing all the damage that was caused by centuries of abuse. Black hair had a complex history and slapping the word “curl” somewhere on the bottle wasn’t going cut it.

In fact, because of the natural hair movement, other beauty campaigns became popular.

Dove and other companies have gotta on the trend of self love/beauty

All was well within the black hair world. We finally had companies, started and owned by black women, and the more established ones were working hand over fist to gain our attention. Black hair had never seen so many options and choices before! Natural hair advocates worked to get black hair respected and pushed for further education of it in salons and in the beauty world.

However, like most things race related, results weren’t seen overnight. In fact, while the natural hair market was booming, more and more ads, commercials and videos features more light skinned and loose curled models.

The very women that created the movement were slowly being erased by words like, “inclusion” and “together”. Suddenly, white woman also wanted in on OUR movement. Fizzy hair Beckies saw their bad hair day on par with natural hair discrimination. In fact, the whole conversation was shifted into the natural hair community being all about just loving who you are! With no link to race, sex or hair history.

What does this white baby have to do with anything?

So when Shea Moisture released this commercial with a white, red head talking about how she was ashamed of her color and just HAD to dye it blonde…well…here we are.

They have it so hard

White women have never faced discrimination with their hair. They were never denied a job, let go from a contract, have been seen as undesirable because of it and offered no options but to change it’s texture if they wanted to be seen as human. There was a story of a black lawyer who spoke at lengths about her appearance in court. She mentioned that she could never show her natural hair because she didn’t want the jury to hold that against her client! She isn’t the only one. A lot of black women in various professions feel like they have to wear weaves and wigs to maintain their job. That pressure is all too real. Hell, even the past First Lady, Michelle Obama, couldn’t wear her natural hair! Black women were and still today are outlawed from showing their hair!

There are generations of black women damn near balding because of lack of knowledge of their hair and the utter shame they feel when they don’t have a wig/weave/protective style to cover their “ugliness”. I won’t touch on all the emotional and mental abuse black women suffer from regarding their hair because we’ll be here all day, but to have Shea Moisture just sum it up as hair hate? To act like it’s on the same level as a red head not thinking she was pretty because she wasn’t blonde? Okay.

What Shea Moisture Forgot

So after the huge backlash online, Shea moisture quickly put out an apology tweet. They let everyone on all their social media sites, know that they heard them loud and clear.

Wow, okay – so guys, listen, we really f-ed this one up. Please know that our intention was not – and would never be – to disrespect our community, and as such, we are pulling this piece immediately because it does not represent what we intended to communicate. You guys know that we have always stood for inclusion in beauty and have always fought for our community and given them credit for not just building our business but for shifting the beauty landscape. So, the feedback we are seeing here brings to light a very important point. While this campaign included several different videos showing different ethnicities and hair types to demonstrate the breadth and depth of each individual’s hair journey, we must absolutely ensure moving forward that our community is well-represented in each one so that the women who have led this movement never feel that their hair journey is minimized in any way. We are keenly aware of the journey that WOC face – and our work will continue to serve as the inspiration for work like the Perception Institute’s Good Hair Study/Implicit Association Test that suggests that a majority of people, regardless of race and gender, hold some bias towards women of color based on their textured or natural hair. So, you’re right. We are different – and we should know better.

Thank you all, as always, for the honest and candid feedback. We hear you. We’re listening. We appreciate you. We count on you. And we’re always here for you. Thank you, #SheaFam, for being there for us, even when we make mistakes. Here’s to growing and building together…

Cute right? Here is my issue with this. Shortly after posting this they liked and retweeted this comment”

Tariqu Nasheed is quick to tear down black women.

I couldn’t believe it. This low life has made a living off of bashing black women. I won’t even have his trash on my site but if you want to take a look at his background, feel free to see for yourself. 

Why would Shea Moisture even give highlight to an asshole like this? Do they really understand how they insulted and betrayed their core customers? Are they really so much in denial they were would grasp for support straws from someone like this? In short, yes.

I’m sick of the word “inclusion” in the black community. I have yet to see any white women (or any WOC) fighting for more diversity in their own companies. Where are the blog posts and support tweets from white women asking brands like Pantene, TRESemme and L’Oreal why there are not more black women in their advertising? But as soon as black women start to shine (and on our own at that) they want to scream, cuss and fight why they are not being featured. Blows my mind. Although the natural hair movement has made wide strides to get us the recognition we deserve; we are still miles away from being seen as one of the big dogs. 

Is there a problem with SM wanting to branch out into a larger market? No, of course not. I want them to get their coin just like everyone else. But the moment you throw your core customer at the back of the bus and forget who made you what you are and still support you to this day as you test out white waters is the moment you could lose it all. SM could have made a side line catering to straight hair if they pleased, but to completely feature visible black woman? Nope.

Judgement: Boycott

After the apology a lot of black women still called for a boycott of the brand. They posted pictures of SM products in the trash and swore how they would never support them again. However, some black women thought that took it too far.

“We shouldn’t boycott a brand just because they did one thing wrong!”

Correction, this is not SM’s first time turning it’s back on the natural hair community. A few years prior there were numerous cases of naturals claiming that SM had changed their formula. Old Faithful hair products were no longer working and they noticed that ingredients that use to be in certain products were no longer present. SM denied any tweaking of the products, of course, but many couldn’t help but wonder if SM was going the route of Carol’s Daughters. After all, 49% of SM is owned by Mitt Romney’s son. Was it possible that they were slowing changing their best products to be more acceptable for straight hair?

They also had major backlash when all their ads, show booths and product models featured light skin and loose curls. People were hard pressed to see any Type 4s on their tours and hair show circuits. This all ties into colorism of course, but again, that’s for another post.

Shea Moisture booth
Not sure why they removed this picture from their site

“Shea Moisture is one of the only major brands that cater to us, we can’t turn our backs on them!”

Wrong. There are hundreds of black brands out there that cater to natural hair. One of the great things about the natural hair movement was how many black entrepreneurs came out of it. Black women are the ones that made SM what it is today and if we don’t feel like they listen to our needs/wants then we are not obligated to buy from them. Our dollar is mighty and just like we supported them up until this point, we have hundreds of other brands we can uplift, feature and support as well. Why do they get to be the only one with some shine?

Here is a list of black owned brands:

Alikay Naturals – http://www.alikaynaturals.com/

Amazing Botanicals – http://amazingbotanicals.bigcartel.com/

Camille Rose Naturals http://www.camillerosenaturals.com

Curls – http://www.curls.biz/

Design Essentials https://designessentials.com

EDEN BodyWorks – http://eden-bodyworks.myshopify.com/

Entwine Couture- http://www.entwinecouture.com

Karen’s Body Beautiful – http://www.karensbodybeautiful.com/

Kinky Curly – http://kinky-curly.com/

Koils By Nature – http://www.koilsbynature.com/

Mielle Organics- http://www.mielleorganics.com

Ms. Jessies- missjessies.com

My Honeychild – http://www.myhoneychild.com/

The Mane Choice themanechoice.com

Tropic Isle Living – http://www.tropicisleliving.com/

Soultanicals – http://www.soultanicals.com/

Sunny Isle JBCO – http://www.sunnyislejamaicanblackcastoroil.com/

Obia Naturals- https://www.obianaturals.com

Oyin Handmade – http://www.oyinhandmade.com/

Qhemet Biologics – http://www.qhemetbiologics.com/

Uncle Funky’s Daughter – http://unclefunkysdaughter.com/

Huetiful – http://www.huetifulsalon.com/

Lawrence Ray Concepts – http://www.lawrencerayconcepts.com/

The Detangle Brush – http://www.detanglebrush.com/detangle-brush.html

WonderCurl – http://www.wondercurl.com/

Naturalicious – http://naturalicious.net

BeeMine Products – http://beemineproducts.com/

TGIN (Thank God I’m Natural) – http://www.thankgodimnatural.com/

Jane Carter Solution – http://www.janecartersolution.com/

Coco Curls – http://cococurls.com/

Lace Natural – http://www.lacenatural.com/

Taliah Waajid –http://www.naturalhair.org

Hydratherma Naturals- http://www.hydrathermanaturals.com

“Black women don’t boycott other businesses that disrespect them! (I.e asian owned beauty supply stores/ nail shops)”

Yeah, no. In order for a boycott to work we need to replace the A with a B. Like I mentioned before, SM is not the only natural hair brand we can give our money too. With the power of the world wide web connecting most of us, it is easy to find affordable products made by and for black hair. There are a lot of options in that regard. The true is not same for our local community beauty and nail shops. You see, that ugly little thing called racism plays a part in this as well. There is a long history of Asians cornering that market. You think it is by chance that every hood in American has Asian owned fast food joints, gas stations, beauty supply stores and nail salons? Nope. Their model minority status gives them access to loans, buildings and even merchants that black people cannot touch.

In fact, there was a big outcry of racism when black women tried to get funding to open and operate beauty supply stores and nail salons in their own communities. They ran into issues with the city, the banks and of course the oversea merchants who didn’t want black people muscling in on their businesses. So if we are to swear off these shops, in some communities the only place black women can have beauty options, we need to tackle what’s stopping black people from owning their own. It’s easy to say, “Boycott all these white businesses that disrespect you!” but then realize that racism has stopped any other race from venturing out in that same. What will happen? You will go right back to them for gas, food, water, power, housing, cars, healthcare…the list goes on.

So it is very doable for black women to boycott this one natural hair brand for no longer meeting their needs. We aren’t chained to them because this might be the one and only shot of us getting products for our hair. Boycotting major brands such as Walmart, Best Buy or even Amazon would work if they had something equally available of access to replace them with.

But hey, it is easier to call black women bitter, lazy and quick to betray their own. Classic.

So that is where we are at now. I doubt this will be the last we hear about this whole thing. There needs to be some massive change within the community to make sure our movement is not turned into so many things that get stolen from us. Black women created this, we support and gave shine to all things in the natural hair movement. We will no longer be bullied, insulted or erased by these brands and companies. Our dollars matter. Our voice matters. Anyone who is not with that can go kick rocks. Seriously.

Are you guys on board with the boycott? Let me hear your thoughts!

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