I would like to think that incidents of blackface are decreasing as people become more educated and aware of the fact that this decades-old practice is racist
Still, every year we learn of some individual or some company who has yet to receive the message.
This year, it’s Korean fashion brand Bad Blood.
Bad Blood thought they would get away with this stunt because they simply digitally altered a Korean model’s skin until she appeared as a Black woman.
The South-Korean company posted the image of the model wearing a camisole and cotton underwear.
They might have skated past the watchful eye of social media had it not been for an observant Black woman, 25-year-old Amaal Abdulkadir.
According to Buzz Feed, Abdulkadir is a school teacher in London but lived in Korea for three years. Abdulkadir noticed the edit because she had been following the brand for some time and recognized that another Korean model and this “Black” one had identical tattoos. They’re not your everyday, run of the mill tattoos either. So the Twitter user immediately spotted the jig.
She decided to DM the company to tell that she was onto their scheme and it was inappropriate. The response from the brand was…shocking, to say the least.
With photographic evidence, Yo What It Is, pointed out that this was the same model with darkened skin. She wrote, “This is very wrong.”
Bad Blood’s response? Double down. They even went so far as to call the real Black woman’s Blackness into question.
They responded, “Actually, she is blacker than black. The feeling is different depending on the picture being taken. Why is this a problem for you?”
Amaal Abdulkadir: Blacker than black? What does that mean?? Is she Korean or is she Black?
Bad Blood: Her skin is much darker than you.
Abdulkadir: The problem is that this is called “blackface she is not black. It doesn’t matter if she darker than me. I am a black woman. So please answer the question, is she black or Korean?? She is Korean yes? Meaning she is not BLACK!”
Bad Blood eventually responded in Korean characters. But sis understood exactly what they were saying. They started accusing her of being rude and saying she should get some manners. They said, “This is not an issue you should be sticking your nose into, it’s just the way the photo was taken.”
As a customer and as someone who knew that respect is important in Korean language, Abdulkadir was shocked that she was being spoken to in this way.
Abdulkadir told BuzzFeed, “How dare they say that this is an issue I shouldn’t be speaking on when I as a Black woman have approached them in a kind manner, when in reality my anger would have been justified in that situation that they were trying to use dark skin, Black skin, my skin, to profit off of, to make money off of, but they’re not giving money to actual Black people. That pissed me off.”
Bad Blood even went so far as to say they’d shown the post to their Black friends and they didn’t have a problem with it.
Seeing that the company wasn’t going to honor her request in its singularity, Abdulkadir started sharing images of the exchange online, on Twitter, in her Instagram stories and more. Eventually, other people started sharing the images as well, tagging Bad Blood, making them aware of their bad business practices and communication.
Other Instagram users who complained received an apology the company copy and pasted several times over or they were blocked entirely.
This is not the first time blackface has caused a controversy in Korea. Abdulkadir reminded Bad Blood of Sam Okyere, a Ghanaian TV personality who lived in Korea as a permanent resident. But he left the industry after speaking out about the issue of blackface.
Abdulkadir said, “He was basically the poster child for foreigners in Korea,” Abdulkadir said. “They loved him, and then they dropped him the moment he spoke up about blackface and how wrong it was.”
Eventually, Bad Blood sent Abdulkadir an apology but eventually deleted that from the Instagram thread.
As the criticisms of their actions gained more and more views online, they issued a lengthier apology, which they shared on their Instagram page.
Since the apology has been posted, the brand has restricted comments on their page.
Because the message sent to Abdulkadir has been deleted from the thread, the company has yet to issue her a personal apology.