This ridiculous detergent ad that ‘washes’ away black skin has plenty of precedents

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Who knew China had a racism problem? While India is trying to assuage relations with African nations after a Congolese man was beaten to deathby a mob, in China black men are being “washed” and made, well, less black.

The commercial above, for a Chinese detergent manufacturer shows some sparks growing between a Black house-painter and a Chinese woman. As things are about to get steamier, she stuffs detergent in his mouth and shoves him into the washing machine. After a thorough rinse, the man emerges transformed – into a fairer Chinese man.

The commercial ends with the slogan: “Change Begins With Qiaobi”.

Qiaobi, has not commented on the outrage that has followed, CNNreported. The ad found attention on the internet after it was posted by an American expat Christopher Powell on his Facebook page.

According to the Shanghaiist, the ad is also not original but a “blatant ripoff” of an Italian advertising campaign of some years ago, where a white man is washed into one of colour. That, though, condemned racism rather than condoning it.

In January this year a Thai commercial for a whitening product, Snowz, had a popular Thai actress Cris Horwang attributing her success to fairer skin. Much like Indian fairness commercials where achievement is equated with radiant white skin.

The ad opens with Horwang saying “In my world there is tough competition. If I don’t take care of myself, everything I have built, the whiteness I have invested in could be gone.”

Then her skin turns almost black, and a young, and very white, rival appears by her side. She looks down in dismay at her dark complexion and muses “if I was white, I would win”.

The advert below was withdrawn after massive outrage on Twitter and other social media. The makers, Seoul Secret, issued a “heartfelt apology”, saying it had not meant to offend, BBC reported.


Washing Black people into white goes back a long way. Reddit userHockeycannon pointed out a similar Swedish commercial purportedly from the 1940s. A Swedish detergent brand then also showed a white woman “washing” a black man after which he became white.

According to the description on the video, the woman says, “If only you weren’t black.” The caption at the end: “The Tomte won another victory by making the negro white”.


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