Recently American clothing company Gap (or ‘The Gap’ as most people love to call it) has unveiled a new marketing campaign aimed at promoting tolerance and diversity. Suitably named ‘#MakeLove’ the campaign features billboards containing images of models of differing ethnicities, genders and sexualities on display around New York.
Earlier in the week New York based photographer Robert Gerhardt shared a picture on his Instagram which showed one of these billboards in a Bronx subway defaced by racist graffiti. The defaced billboard features famous Sikh Indian-American designer and actor Waris Ahluwalia.
The douchlord defacer changed the caption from “Make Love” to “Make Bombs” and also scribbled, “Please stop driving taxis” on the billboard. Because you know, it’s only logical and educated to assume that every non-white person must be a taxi driver and terrorist #insertsarcasmhere.
Arsalan Iftikhar who is an international human rights lawyer, author, Islamic Monthly senior editor and a friend of Ahluwalia, saw the picture and shared his well-justified disgust on Twitter. Explaining his reason to share the picture Iftikhar stated:
“When I first saw my Facebook friend’s photo of this GAP subway advertisement defaced by vandals with racist messages, I wanted the world to see how millions of brown people are viewed in America today.”
Within hours Gap wanted to find out more about this incident and contacted Iftikhar directly.
Most astonishingly, Gap then immediately changed its Twitter accounts current background picture to the Sikh model.
The Internet has reacted to Gap’s response with praise and news about it is spreading like wildfire. The Sikh community has even started a ‘Thank you, Gap” campaign in recognition of The Gap’s efforts to combat racism and provide the Sikh community with greater exposure.
Gap’s swift response is testament to the company’s well-wished intentions in ensuring that no person is treated differently for who they are. It sets an example to all other companies who encounter discrimination (such as Barney’s).
Hopefully using social media in such ways aids in shifting the consciousness of close minded people through allowing them to see the world outside their comfort zone. There is no other place where people from all over the world are as interconnected as on the Internet. With the world at our fingertips, ignorance cannot be an excuse for discrimination any longer and those who witness racism should not allow it to pass unnoticed. As Iftikhar writes:
“As the year 2014 inches closer to us, I want to live in an America where a fashion model can be a handsome, bearded brown dude in a turban who is considered as beautiful as a busty blonde-haired white girl in see-through lingerie.”