Pepsi’s controversial commercial with Kendall Jenner still has people talking and it made its round on Thursday’s The View episode. Speaking on the topic, the ladies agreed that the ad missed the mark.
“One of the biggest things that’s uniting the country right now, is that everyone and their momma hated that Pepsi ad,” Whoopi Goldberg started off the segment. But it was her follow-up comment about Black women somehow appropriating culture by wearing weave that set off a Twitter firestorm.
“I think they [Pepsi] thought they were deeper than they were with the messaging,” Whoopi said. “I think they thought that this would be enough. And if you’re 19 or 21 you think it’s a great, cause you think it’s doing something… I know lots of 21-year-olds… and if it’s not here [mimicking a cell phone], they don’t know history.”
Sunny Hostin then noted that Kendall — a member of a family often accused of cultural appropriation — should have known better.
“This is a family that has made millions of dollars based on being just famous,” she begins. “And so when you have been in this business for ten years…and in 2015 she already got called out, short of reprimanded for, cultural appropriation because she wore cornrows…She already had a taste of controversy. She already had a taste of what people think when you appropriate these movements. I think she should have known better.”
But Whoopi clearly disagrees with the ‘cultural appropriation,’ saying the term makes her “crazy.”
“If we’re going to go with cultural appropriation, wear natural hair. Cause if we’re wearing white lady hair, then isn’t that appropriation? Listen, there are times where you can say, ‘You need to be more sensitive.’ But this aint one of them! This is [just] a bad commercial that didn’t work.”
Having been in the business for decades, it’s surprising that Whoopi — a Black woman— would be frustrated by a term that so accurately explains what happened in this Pepsi ad. By definition “appropriation” means to take something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission, for financial gain.
If we break this down, Pepsi used the concept of civil protest without consent from actual activists or protestors, to sell beverages.
Appropriation is actually the perfect word for what happened.
Where appropriation cannot be used is to explain Black women — who have historically been disenfranchised— wearing their hair straight, with sewn-ins or wigs. Put aside our diversity of hair textures, Black women would have had to be the oppressor in the equation to actually appropriate white women. You know, like a Kardashian wearing cornrows on an Instagram account they make money from.
If Whoopi should be going “crazy” over anything, it should be having to constantly explain our agency as Black women in a world that willfully steals from us time and time again.