For the coming holiday season, the clothing store Gap has unveiled an advertising campaign called “Make Love,” bent on spreading love and warmth through the cold winter months. One ad featured a Sikh model posing with a white woman, with the slogan embossed next to them. It is highly unusual for a company like Gap to circulate the image of someone in a minority group, particularly a Sikh man, in its advertisements.
Unfortunately, shortly after Gap displayed the images across the country, someone defaced the image on an advertisement in the Bronx. Changing the slogan from “Make Love” to “Make Bombs” and adding the disparaging line “Please stop driving taxis,” this person attempted to sow seeds of hate. These seeds were promptly dug up before they could grow and fester.
The vandalized image caused outrage on Twitter, going viral after hundreds of favorites and retweets. Once Gap found out about the graffiti, it promised to replace the billboard as quickly as possible. But the clothing giant didn’t stop there. It completely threw its support behind the Sikh model by making the picture its default photo on Twitter. By doing this, Gap vowed that it would not let anyone stand in the way of supporting true love.
Some people will shake their heads, dismissing it as just another hateful act of discrimination that proves that racism is still alive and well. I see it differently. Although racists commit reprehensible crimes against minority groups every day, both physical and nonphysical, Gap’s initiative is a very positive development. And with the popularity of social media and the Internet, activists and Internet surfers alike echo the message that they will not tolerate racism.
We certainly haven’t won the “war on intolerance” yet. Stereotyping occurs every day. Racial profiling remains an acceptable police tactic in many areas. Power-hungry, misguided politicians still encourage the masses to believe that minorities are the source of their problems.
But our generation, the one belittled for its apathy and obsession with the trivial, is more accepting and welcoming than others. In general, we don’t hate, judge or discriminate based on race, religion or sexual orientation. We’re not perfect; at times we can be judgmental and even quite uninformed, myself included. As a whole, though, we’re making a lot of progress. By continuing to follow Gap’s lead, we can create an integrated society that pushes us to find love based on personal qualities, not identities, a society that gives all of us equal opportunities and a society that honors all lifestyles. Through the fostering and protection of true love, they’ve proven themselves to be ardent defenders of what the world ought to look like.
So once again, good going Gap! You’re encouraging a society in which interracial couples don’t receive stares from passersby, people who wear traditional attire receive respect from those who support secularism and immigrants can integrate, not assimilate. That’s what love is, and that’s what the holidays are supposed to celebrate.