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Case of the Ex: Chris Brown Edition

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Like a lot of people, , approved I’m guilty of waking up and checking my socials.

Today was no different; however the topic on everybody’s mind was Pepsi – namely their brand new ad staring celebrity model Kendall Jenner. 

The ad starts with the second youngest of the Kardashian/Jenner clan doing her thing – modelling. Whilst the photo shoot fans are blowing on high and the photographers flash is going crazy we see a rainbow of protesters walking by – black, white, female, gay, Muslim…. every demographic that springs to mind was covered. 

Now as this rainbow army marches by, the star of the ad, Kendall comes to a realisation whipping off her blonde wig- purposely smearing her lipstick off in the process and in essence frees the realness to join the protestors. landscape-1491310986-screen-shot-2017-04-04-at-85853-am-copy (1)

Like all good commercials everybody was laughing, joking and feeling the photoshopped love and Kendall was straight in on the action. Up until this point I was neither wowed nor offended by Pepsi’s efforts to create awareness of their drink but things quickly go down from there. 

Initially, I wasn’t too sure what comical, tear jerking or legendary moment Pepsi were going to try to recreate to further propel their brand and so I leaned in to try and anticipate what comes next.

Unfortunately, like the drink… it wasn’t to my taste.

Shockingly, Pepsi had elected to use the current narrative of police brutality as a gimmick for pushing their drink.

The Ad ends with Kendall offering the icy beverage to an officer in the line-up, magically diffusing the tension between protester and police once the officer takes a sip of the drink.

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Out of context, this advert is not offensive or insensitive. However, taking into consideration the excruciatingly well documented cases of police brutality, rioting and protesting surrounding discrimination- and in particular racism- over the last few years, it’s no secret that a can of Pepsi is not capable of amending the injustice felt by millions of people of colour from those that are meant to ‘protect and serve’.

I have no personal issue with Kendall Jenner, unfortunately she elected to be the face of a tone-deaf ad, that makes light of the struggles that minorities in the US and Europe face on a daily basis.

America’s history of police brutality is no secret. From the Selma to Montgomery Marches in 1965 through to the riots of Charlotte in 2016, people of colour have always used protest as a powerful tool to showcase and amplify those suffering at the hands of the law.

Taking a platform which is used to highlight the plight of an entire people and reducing it to a marketing strategy laughs in the face of those whose only hope of true liberty  is born of having a unified voice and a right  to an opinion through protest.

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On behalf of those of us that don’t get to make light of the pain and suffering experienced, and that are STILL facing discrimination over their culture, ethnicity, struggle, sexual orientation, gender, class or religion I only have one thing to say to PepsiCo and its in house creative team, and it’s this:

DO NOT USE MY STRUGGLE AS A MARKETING STRATEGY. IF YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT POLICE BRUTALITY, DO SO IN A WAY THAT MOVES THE CONVERSATION FORWARD AND NOT WATERS DOWN OR BELITTLE THE EFFORTS OF GENERATIONS DEDICATED TO PROGRESSION.

Written by Natasha Kamanga

*Trigger warning ; discussion surrounding abuse and graphic images

Nobody out rightly says they are for abuse. In fact, order Women are told “if you’re in an abusive relationship GET OUT DON’T LOOK BACK JUST GO. You are worth so much more” Yet, they’re called stupid when it takes longer than one time to sever all ties to that person with little if any acknowledgement  of the reductive environment created within an abusive relationship which contributes to the struggle involved in detaching ones-self from the situation.

Now let’s put this into the context of familiar names and beautiful faces. Chris Brown and Karrueche Tran’s turbulent break up to makeup relationship that spanned over 2 years has lead to a restraining order against Chris (not his first).

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Ms Karrueche Tran has filed for a restraining order against Christopher Maurice Brown , on accounts of him stalking her and imposing physical threats and harm to her friends and family …. there had also been claims that she had been punched in the stomach and man handled by Chris Brown … I’d like you to cast your mind back to the scene from which many a meme had been created. Where Mr Brown had been waiting for Ms Karrueche outside a nightclub and pleaded for her attention and even went as far as attempting to enter her car… weeks later he released a song which mentioned wanting a love interest back in his life, screaming Ms Trans name in the track. People laughed, some swooned over Mr Brown’s attempts of getting Ms Tran back in his good books.

Time passed and people constantly have Ms Trans name on their tongues, attributing her success as a result of being associated with Chris Brown, a come up move as some would say.  In January Chris Brown had argued with Soulja boy in reference to Karrueche and when she chimed in, again she was met with jeers of ” she loves the attention” “she’s probably leading Chris on ”  ” why’s she involving herself if she’s over him” there has been constant hostility surrounding Ms Tran, constantly shut down when she attempts to defend herself …. and yet victim shaming is something that seems so alien to people? How?rihanna-chris-brown-secret-meetings-pp

Now beloved can I ask you to cast our minds back to 2009. The year Chris Brown and Rihanna parted ways.

Now what’s Rihanna got to do with this I hear you ask? Why does all of this matter? Well , while I’ve watched people rant and rave and ridicule Karrueche over the years , I’ve paid a closer eye on the behaviour of the ever so charismatic and carefree Mr Brown. He has been a heartthrob and idol to many, dabbling between a sweetheart and bad boy when needs be. Acclaimed for his  ability to ‘bounce back’ after his attack on Rihanna… He has been as apologetic as he needed to be to bounce back to his normal life, he rightfully shared that this behaviour he exhibits , mirrors  behaviour he has witnessed himself , with his mother as the victim and his stepfather as the abuser. I have sat on the sidelines , completely dumbfounded as to why people are adamant that we MUST treat his behaviours and his relationships as Isolated instances. When this is the EXACT REASON why abuse remains the notorious instigator of deaths, suicides, drug addictions, mental health conditions, cognitive disorders, traumatised children, parentless children, killer of character and a destroyer of souls. The apathy that negates society’s willingness to accept that abuse is just a random instance, a one off, not a result of behavioural traits and efforts to diminish a person’s agency and self worth. This is the issue at hand.

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This man happens to be talented, this man happens to be attractive, this man happens to have started his career as a tender teen ad has been babied throughout his whole career as a result of this.

“He did his time .. what more should he suffer” what picking up trash cans & clearing graffiti? And 5 years probation for smashing his girlfriends (Rihanna Fenny) face repeatedly & abandoning her as she called for help?  I am not an appointed judge, I have a limited concept of the way the law works, but it’s shocking to me that abuse has shorter sentences and conviction rates than fraud. I’ve laid all of this out not as an attack of Chris Brown and his celebrity privilege but as a gateway of questioning society’s understanding towards abusive relationships. Whether it be physical , emotional or sexual.

The institution that is built to serve and protect harmony within society, via the rehabilitation of  dangerous members of our society are more concerned about stolen money than the years shaved off the life of an abuse victim be it male or female.

Abuse isn’t just a one off occurrence, it’s not a black and white subject, majority of the time it’s visible to family and friends earlier than the victim at hand. Abusers are masters of creating environments that feel so safe to the victim then snatching it away in a split second, leaving room for the victim to blame themselves, society follows suit. Making standing on your own and get away , for good, a lonely and frightening feat.  Chris Brown felt no discomfort in stating in Instagram videos that he is a stalker , and will rundown anybody that he loves till he gets them back. He made clear that he ” built” Karrueche… all reductive and threatening statements, all signals of emotional abuse. Domestic abuse is not solely reserved for marital spouses, it doesn’t discriminate in age ,religion or according to relationship status. So don’t assume any relationship is exempt from this form of abuse.

If this at all sounds familiar to you , if you feel like there is an unhealthy imbalance in your relationship that is dismissed by your partner or even those around  you, please reach out to charities or help lines that can empower you . Regardless of the forms of abuse you may have faced you need to remember that you had a life before you met this person and you must take the steps to safeguard the life you can have after them. You are not theirs.

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Uk Domestic violence helpline: 08082000247

https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/helpline/

Written by Nunya Aku Gemegah

Twitter: @TBHer_

Blog: www.thothsbyher.wordpress.com

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Nunya Gemegah

Nunya is a food loving, duvet snuggling Social Anthropologist in the making. Having drawn her strengths from her lowest moments, she hopes to ask the questions we dance around concerning gender, race and mental health.

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