#BoycottPepsi and Why I don’t like Kendall Jenner and the Kardashians

I am a 2nd year medical student. I drew up my revision timetable for my exams the other day. I have around 240 lectures of content to go over and 21 chapters of anatomy, however I deemed it necessary to take time out to write this.

I have taken a step back from social media, this Easter, to concentrate on work, but I have made sure to keep an eye on recent happenings. It is 5am as I write this, and what I am going to talk about has bothered my spirit for a long time; I think it is important that people understand the points I am about to make. Here goes — I won’t hold back.

I am not sure if you have seen the recent Pepsi advert, featuring Kendall Jenner — if you haven’t I will give a short description, or you can watch the 30 second advert here with the link below:

The advert begins with Jenner sporting a blonde wig and being photographed, as she looks on as a protest with peace and love signs proceeds. A “protestor” then goes on to nod at her as a cue to join the “protest”, which has people cheering in jubilation.

Now, in front of this “protest” we have a line of police standing, facing the “protestors”. I am sure you will all be familiar with the merciless killings of Black people in America, intensifying in recent years. Or arguably, has not intensified but has just received more social media exposure and coverage — if you aren’t familiar with this then you are probably living under a rock and need to open your eyes to the injustice happening around you. (I told you I wouldn’t hold back).

The first notable killing, which led to creation of the Black Lives Matter movement (by 3 powerful women may I add, 2 of whom are queer!), was that of Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old, 5”11 young Black male who was shot by George Zimmerman as he walked from a convenience store because he looked “suspicious”. Zimmerman harassed Martin, who was unarmed, as he walked home. Martin acted in self-defence when violently man-handled, which led to the fatal shooting. Zimmerman was later acquitted in 2013 of second-degree murder.

Trayvon Martin
George Zimmerman

After this, there was obvious outrage in the Black community with nationwide protests taking place all across the country outside federal buildings in the US. A deep pain and anguish was felt, and still is, in the Black community in the US, and here in the UK. The unjust murder, mistreatment and massacring of Black people in our so called “post-racial” society remains a deep festering wound, which we try to cover up with the fact that America had a Black president. However, if you look at it closely, he was incapable of reducing the number of Black people being murdered in his two terms, yet we choose to continually glorify him and sing his praises.

There are numerous cases like that of Trayvon Martin, which have happened in the US and the UK (I am compiling a list of all these cases in the next few weeks for those who are interested); Michael Brown and Sandra Bland in the US; Christopher Adler and Mzee Mohammed in the UK, to name but a few.

In the US, the situation has been very tense to say the least. During protests. the police — who I refer to as mindless soldiers of the state — were involved in many violent altercations with protestors, using heavy amounts of force and riot gear on unarmed protestors.

This unprecedented police violence led to Black civilians taking action and taking up arms as a symbol of self-defence against a state that slaughters their people and does not hold the murderers accountable. Two police officers were killed at the end of 2014 which led to the “Blue Lives Matter” movement — a direct opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement. An “All Lives Matter” movement was also formed in the wake of events, to show that Black lives do not matter any more than any other life, so we shouldn’t make distinctions, despite the fact that in 2015 in the US, black people were killed at twice the rate of white, Hispanic and native Americans. But hey, all lives matter right?

Returning to the advert, Jenner then walks in front of other “protestors” as she grabs a can of Pepsi. What happens next aggravates me massively, to say the least (not my preferred choice of words). Jenner then walks forward and hands a police officer the said can. Words cannot express my anger and resentment against this action.

In a single 30-second advert video she, and Pepsi, have essentially overlooked and disregarded the countless murders of Black people, symbolically walking forward and shaking hands in agreement and solidarity with those that have these committed abominable crimes. This action by Jenner is, to me, unforgivable and is equivalent to trampling over the graves of these innocent victims. It is insensitive, it is heartless and it is just wrong. It is a handshake of support to the State and to Trump — who is not silent on the issue of Black people protesting against police. Trump has mentioned that police need more protection and support, even going as far as to say “back in the old days they would have been carried off in stretchers” — a reference to the civil rights movement era. Jenner’s action serves as a pat on the back for the police and the State; she is effectively saying “Good Job!”. For those of you who are sceptical about whether or not these claims are warranted and whether Jenner knew what her actions meant, I have this to say: I do not care whether or not she was aware or did it purposely — what is going in the US is no secret and for her to essentially come out to publicly support the actions of the police is disgusting. The writers also knew what they were doing and would have been well aware of the implications of their actions — how could you do this and call yourself a decent person? To add insult to injury, the background song of the advert is “Lions” by Skip Marley; grandson of Bob Marley, who, despite being deceased, is still a prominent Black Caribbean figure.

The rest of the Kardashian family has endorsed the advert, even congratulating Jenner on the “achievement”.

This action again fuels my anger even further — The Kardashians and Jenners are guilty of fetishising Black men. I have no problem with interracial relationships and relations, but my problem comes when these women love black men but don’t integrate into our culture, and don’t speak out or support Black issues. They are content to sleep with us, but when it comes to standing up and speaking out on our rights, they are silent. Yet, we still buy their products, like their pictures and endorse their campaigns.

The Kardashians and Jenners are also guilty of appropriation of Black culture; capitalising from characteristically Black features, appearing as pioneering and creative to the uninitiated, as though they never existed amongst Black people before. Examples of this include, but are not limited to, Kylie Jenner getting her lips filled to make them appear bigger — a feature that has been demonised on Black women for the longest time. Or the Black hairstyles Kylie Jenner has sported, which again were demonised on Black women for the longest time, constantly being told that it looks unprofessional and ugly, yet are now being accepted a fashion statement. The problem is that when these hairstyles have been worn on other Black celebrities, such as Zendaya, they have faced a huge backlash.

Both Khloe and Kim have had bum implants, to emulate another feature that has typically been demonised on Black women for centuries now. However, they are being used as a fashion statement by these white women, now widely accepted in the fashion world, whereas before it was looked at as an ugly disfigurement.

Have you ever heard of Saarjti (Sarah) Baartman? She was a South African slave taken to Europe and shown as a freak of nature at circuses and exhibitions because of her large bum — a natural feature that was widespread in her population. After her death, her body was dissected and kept on display for countless decades.

After she died, the European colonists that took her from her home decided to make clothing inspired by her body type, as it was now considered very fashionable and was worn by most white women of the time — I am sure you are familiar with these dresses.

History is repeating itself. We, the people, need to take action.

Let’s stop endorsing people who don’t appreciate and respect us, our culture, or where we came from.

I encourage you all to use the hashtag #BoycottPepsi to encourage Pepsi to take down their insensitive advert, and as a symbol of respect and remembrance for victims of police violence.

Love and Blessings.

Message me for any details and comments and I will reply when possible.

Twitter @Ayoolatunji96

Insta @ayo0996

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