In 2019 I feel there are certain conversations we shouldn’t be having but here we are, having them. It seems we as a society might be going backwards in our collective evolution and development and it also seems, white people just might be suffering the brunt of this regression because in 2019 we have a sect of white people who are outrightly against vaccinating their children and wards leading to a resurgence of life-threatening childhood illnesses. We also have white people who we still have to explain the basics of racism, how it works and how their actions perpetuate this racism. We also have to explain to (some) white people why posting videos of themselves traveling to an African country for a retreat and using Africans as props for fancy Instagram shoots is racist.
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Ummm…happy International Women’s Day? Russell Bateman ( @russellsbc ), the white male mastermind behind the invite-only fitness collective SBC (Skinny Bitch Collective), took a gang of seemingly cloned, pony-tailed white women on a retreat in Kenya. Among the sisterhood-fostering activities like hot air balloon rides, chef-prepared organic meals (that chia berry jam!), and dancing ‘round a tree of life, they also managed to use the local Maasai people not only as a backdrop, but as literal props in their fitness routines. Some videos have already been deleted, but screenshots appear to show the girls writhing around the locals like an obstacle course. Booty twisting on Maasai cloth chick deserves special mention…real classy lol. It’s 2019 and apparently people still haven’t learned that POC/ethnic groups don’t exist to embellish already privileged lives. The Colonial mindset is alive and well I guess… • #internationalwomensday #womensday #sbc #skinnybitchcollective #russellbateman #kenya #africa #poc #maasai #maasaitribe #tribe #health #fitness #retreat #smh #wtf #colonialism #chiaberryjam #lame #maasaishuka
On Friday, Diet Prada (@diet_prada) an Instagram account dedicated to fashion criticism posted a carousel featuring videos from a retreat organized by Russell Bateman, who owns lifestyle brand Skinny B*tch Collective. In it Maasai men and women were used as props and exercise equipment and the retreat’s guests ran around them and performed exercises using the locals as obstacles.
It is truly baffling that in 2019, people need to call out big brands for their blatant racism – be it in their perpetuating black (read as racist) stereotypes, commodification of racist tropes like blackface or saying racists things (hello, HM) or how they exclude black people from their products and services. It is even more baffling that people still have to call out/explain to brands and people like Russell Bateman why creating and making videos like this, that obviously look and are very racist is problematic.
I genuinely find it hard to believe people are this dumb or is this just outrage marketing at work? If yes, then to what end?
Vincent Desmond is a writer and journalist who mostly covers fashion, identity and pop culture.
He can be found on Instagram @vincentdesmond_