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It May Not Be Racism, But Race Does Matter

Not everything is racism, but some things really are about race.

Today a Facebook “friend” was upset about an article from Right Wing News about nude-colored bras. The gist of the article is that stores stock nude colored bras for white people but not black people. The author of the piece could not “comprehend the stupidity of this.” The Facebook “friend” went on and on about how ridiculous this whole idea was and how everything is not racist. According to this Facebook “friend” if we just “Stop making everything about race and guess what? It won’t be.” I was drawn to respond to her Facebook status.

I wrote this blog article rather than respond to her Facebook status. I believe that things are not about race merely because we are “making everything about race.” Some stuff really is about race and some people can’t see it because of their perspective, position, and privilege. Everything is not racist, but a lot of things are about race and are examples of white privilege that are so pervasive people get a bad attitude if you attempt to address them.


A thing doesn’t have to be part of an evil plan for it to have a racist impact.

I do not think mainstream bra manufacturers are racist or plotting the downfall of the black race by failing to produce bras that or nude for blacks or Latinas or Asian Americans. It is not racist, but it is a race issue.


According to Webster’s Dictionary, racism is:

a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.


This business decision to make nude colored bras that do not match the skin tone of people of color has a disproportionate impact on people of various races. That is a fact. It is not racism, but it is a fact and it has to do with race. No matter how much people hate to make everything about race, some things are about race. However,  just because it is about race, doesn’t mean there is racism. Some things are just about business and money, nothing to do with racism. At the same time, manufacturers are recognizing that nude comes in more than one color. Upscale shoe designer, Christian Louboutin, released a line of nude shoes for a wide variety of skin tones. Clothing designer Nubian Skin has released a line of undergarments and hosiery for a variety of black skin tones.


When black women say they want nude pantyhose, bras, and shoes that represent their shade of nude, it is not racist, it is reasonable.  It sends a message when a person of color walks into a store for pantyhose or bras and the only nude-colored items are not meant for people of their color. Even if people don’t want to admit it or think it is frivolous when your nude color for sale, a message is sent. Manufacturers who understand this and provide it will capture some of the $ 1.1 trillion Consumer Reports African-Americans have in spending power.


As an entrepreneur, you must pay attention to the results of your actions. Appearance matters. Results matter. If your business actions appear to be racist, there may be a negative impact on your bottom line. It is not mere political correctness at play. If you care about your company’s bottom line, you need to care about how people are treated.

So approach things differently the next time you see or hear people of color talking about their desire for nude colored items.  Instead of getting upset, step away from white privileged view and recognize that there is nothing wrong with that desire.


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Tags: race