Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2020. 3:34 pm CST.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
Deborah Mencias McMillan: Let me begin by saying that I do not speak or write on behalf of all Belizeans who identify as Black or on behalf of those of us who are offended by sexism. Instead, I hope that what I have penned will start conversations among those who are not the least bit bothered by the images propagating Black stereotypes and sexism pasted on bottles of rum.
I am uncertain as to the depth of personal prejudice that exists in Belize, but I do know that both racism and sexism exist to varying degrees. Of course, there is also classism, and we know that classism and racism are interrelated. I want to share why the rum bottle label shown below is offensive, sexist, and downright racist.
The image is a familiar caricature of a Black woman. Our features are exaggerated: large red lips and bulging eyes. The sexist image is our oversized breasts, hence the name “big titty”. Also look at the female’s mouth, which is drawn to depict her as flirtatious. The added stereotypical features of this particular image are the African head wrap and the “gangsta rapper” jewelry, which really does not fit but could be explained by the label maker’s over-anxious efforts at perpetuating the stereotype of the Jezebel. The message that Black women are sexually promiscuous is conveyed by innumerable images like this one. The not-so-subtle message is that you drink the rum and you get to “enjoy” her. This is unabashed objectification of women. How dare you!
The question is: How can such multiple layers of stereotypes be anything but intentional?
When you continue to caricature us and portray us as sex symbols, you are perpetuating the negative stereotypes of Black women. The undiluted message and objective of a caricature is that of mocking and belittling. In short, the “Big Titty Rum” label is an offensive, sexist and racist mockery of Black women, and it must be discontinued. Punto final.
Yes, all races have been caricatured, but that does not make your caricature of my race and gender “okay”. This kind of blatant racist and sexist advertising needs to stop. We must not allow it to take root in our tierra querida, Belize. The producer, sellers, and enablers need to stop sending this message that being Black and female is an invitation to devalue us. It is NEVER okay. Take the “Big Titty Rum” off the Belizean market today.
N.B. Deborah Mencias McMillan, has a Doctorate in the field of Education, is an Educator at Galen University in Belize and Ball State University in the United States, is a former Legislator in Belize’s Senate and is a community advocate for San Ignacio Town.
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