Benefit Cosmetics Music Video Stars Racist Caricature Named Bon Qui Qui8/27/2014
Benefit Cosmetics is marketing their mascara and eyeliner with a new video that features comedian Anjelah Johnson performing a remix of the...
Benefit Cosmetics is marketing their mascara and eyeliner with a new video that features comedian Anjelah Johnson performing a remix of the 1994 hit "This is How We Do it" as her character Bon Qui Qui.
Bon Qui Qui isn't a new creation. Johnson debuted the character on the sketch comedy show MADtv in 2008 and has gained a pretty huge following on YouTube from her portrayal.
The clip is particularly interesting because I have not known Benefit to be particularly black girl friendly. Their products serve a fairly narrow market. Bon Qui Qui's affected speech and "ghetto" aesthetic are played up for laughs and purposely juxtaposed with to the "typical" Benefit customer.
Anjelah said in an interview that she based the character on a woman who was working a drive-thru at Burger King in Memphis, Tennesee and her brother whom she describes as "ghetto fabulous."
Anjelah is of Mexican and Native American descent, and we often make allowances for people of color to play on stereotypes about their ethnic group. Bon Qui Qui, for example, mentions Chola eyebrows in the song (I suspect Anjelah added it in to cover herself for the controversy that she knew would follow), but even the name Bon Qui Qui is a Black cliche.
The frequency with which this discussion must take place is maddening, and I'm not one to give women of color passes for profiting from anti-blackness and classism because "ghetto" Black and Latina women deserve to be more than a punchline.
Watch the video and share your thoughts
Kimberly Foster is the founder and editor of For Harriet. Email or Follow @KimberlyNFoster