A populace already weary of receiving COVID-19 “we’re all in this together” messages from literally every company to which we’ve ever given our emails must now face a new annoyance: “woke” emails from companies whose brick-and-mortar facilities, coincidentally, were not burned down by rioters following the death of George Floyd.
What’s annoying about the political antics of companies like Gillette (who previously took the bold marketing stance of telling their customer base how awful they are as men, demanding that they all stop beating their wives and girlfriends when they weren’t sexually harassing strangers) and now, Dollar Shave Club, is that razor companies don’t get to have opinions. They exist to sell consumer products. A razor or a pack of butt-wipes has no political value; its marketing should not and need not involve any kind of political polarization.
Nonetheless, Dollar Shave Club — from whom I have been buying the razors I use to shave my head for many months now — felt it necessary to send the following email from CEO Michael Dubin. I canceled my membership before I even got out of bed; that’s how annoyed I was to be condescended to by a company that sells me overpriced depilatory appliances. I’ll respond to each portion of the email here.
There’s been no shortage of voices in the chorus. After a week of important and raw conversations and reflection here @ DSC, we want to add ours.
There’s your first clue that this email was both unnecessary and ill-advised. There has been no shortage of discussion on these issues (and rioting and looting and burning about these issues). Therefore, nothing is gained by “adding your voice” to the “chorus.”
First, we unequivocally, loudly and vehemently condemn all forms of racist thought and action, from the deliberate and reprehensible to the unconscious but insidious. To us, there is no distinction.
Decent people condemn racism. However, when we start condemning “unconscious but insidious” racism, we’re now in the “microaggressions” territory. People started condemning “microaggressions” and “subconscious” racism because they wanted to accuse people who weren’t racists, and who weren’t behaving as racists, of still somehow being racists.
There IS a distinction between overt and “unconscious” racism. DSC is telling us they’re the same thing, and in so doing, are proclaiming their hostility to anyone who isn’t black, smearing them all as racists with the same broad brush.
By definition, a subconscious (or “unconscious”) thought process is one not in your conscious control. Other than flogging yourself daily with feelings of guilt over innate programming you cannot control, and beating yourself about the head and neck with guilt for the original sin society has somehow instilled with you, what are you to do about these thoughts you cannot access?
Accusations of subconscious racism are thus nothing but a weapon, a means of attacking people who have given no offense because they were born with the wrong skin color. (I’m old enough to remember when accusations of this type were considered racism.)
Second, we are horrified and enraged by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery as well as by the race-driven deaths of countless other black men & women in the United States. And while we are heartened by the scenes of people voicing protest and by the flood of public messages from both individuals and organizations we are equally disheartened that it takes a string of tragedies, on the heels of centuries of injustice, to spur appropriate action on racism in America. We believe what matters is what we do when events like these are not front and center.
So during these “centuries of injustice,” there was no “appropriate action”? There was no change in civil rights law? There was no Civil War?
Third, we recognize that our record is not perfect. We recognize that choices we make every day in our operations — where & with whom we choose to advertise, who we choose as suppliers or vendors, among others — matter. They are each an opportunity to demonstrate our values, and we haven’t always gotten it right. That changes now.
What manner of offense could a razor company have possibly committed? Was DSC purchasing component materials from the Klan? Was it farming out production of its butt wipes to sweatshops in China employing a racially pure workforce?
Or are we to believe DSC is simply squealing “mea culpa” because it might once have employed a Vendor not fully inducted in the Church of Wokeness?
DSC understands its responsibility to take action, and we will be part of the change. The everyday change. The change that no doubt will take time, but that will begin immediately and continue relentlessly.
DSC has certainly been part of the change wherein I’m no longer subscribing to shipments of their overpriced merchandise.
Here’s where we’re starting:
– We will be conducting an audit of our relationships with suppliers, vendors and media & advertising partners to ensure that we are not doing business with anyone who falls on the wrong side of this issue.
Again, by what rationale will DSC be choosing to condemn suppliers, vendors, and advertising partners? The advertising partners at least make a little more sense; if DSC chooses to withdraw its ads from popular conservative radio and Internet markets that DSC considers insufficiently progressive, that’s fine. The resulting drop in sales is no less than the company deserves, after all.
– We believe in a diverse workforce and will ensure we are all equipped with appropriate strategies to combat racism of any kind in our workplace and beyond. These have always been core values, but we will redouble our efforts — from hiring practices to team training & education to pay equality.
There is literally no workplace in America where racism in the workplace is not already illegal. There is no company in the United States that may discriminate in hiring, training, or pay without breaking the law. There is no pay gap in the United States, either — again, by law. Any company breaking any of these laws faces severe penalties. What, then, is Dollar Shave Club vowing to change?
– Action matters and conversation matters, but financial support matters too. Alongside each of our Unilever sister brands, DSC will contribute $100,000 to Black Lives Matter. Additionally, for every dollar that our employees collectively donate to this cause, DSC’s leadership team will personally match those dollars, up to $25,000.
This was the point at which I chose to cancel my subscription. I will not give money to a company that in turn is giving thousands of dollars to an organization whose demands include disbanding police and dissolving the traditional family. (Don’t believe me? Look it up. BLM is a decidedly Marxist organization in terms of its political tenets.)
However, imagine being an employee of DSC. Maybe these issues have never come up before. Then, one day, your boss announces that the company will match donations to a politically charged organization who, by its central tenets, considers you a racist if you’re white.
Oh, and your CEO has just informed you that everyone is “unconsciously” racist (and that there’s no difference between this invisible, intangible, subconscious racism and overt acts of racial prejudice). In how hostile a workplace do you now toil?
Until then, we stand in solidarity with those impacted by systemic racism and violence, and those fighting against it. We hear you, we see you, we are with you.
Michael Dubin, CEO
You don’t hear me, Michael; I had to fight through layers of phone tree and then a text chat just to get a human employee to acknowledge my cancellation.
You don’t see me, Michael; you’ve accused me of imperceptible racism based on the color of my skin.
You aren’t with me, Michael; I am not now, nor will I ever again be, your customer.
My razor company doesn’t get to have political opinions if it wants to keep getting my money.