The Clicks retail pharmacy chain sparked a racism row on Friday after posting images on its website describing black hair as “dull” and white hair as “normal”.
Angry South Africans took to social media pillorying Clicks Pharmacy for what they deemed racially insensitive images that categorized black hair as “dry & damaged” and “frizzy & dull” while an image of blonde hair was captioned “normal” and “fine & flat”.
“Not only is this disrespectful to black lives, it is also evidence of an absence of representation and diversity within the organization,” tweeted Zozibini Tunzi, who wears short natural hair and was crowned Miss Universe in December.
“And we are talking about a South Africa with a population of about 80% black people…. No ways,” she wrote.
Radical leftist opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party lawmaker Mbuyiseni Ndlozi tweeted mostly in capital letters: “We are the black majority & should never, ever accept racism in any form. Our hair, our skin & our bodies, in our country & the world, must be respected”.
The pharmacy has pulled down the images and issued “an unequivocal apology”.
“We are strong advocates of natural hair and are deeply sorry we have offended our natural hair community,” it said in a statement on its Twitter account.
“We have made a mistake and sincerely apologise for letting you down,” said the pharmacy group, one of the two largest in the country.
The images sparked hashtags #RacismMustFall and #BlackHairIsNormal — with black women proudly posting their afros.
The EFF member of parliament, who has more than a million followers on Twitter, urged black people to “get their justice” at the pharmacy, which boasts of more than 500 branches across the country.
In 2018, the EFF staged protests, trashing outlets of Swedish clothing giant Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) in Johannesburg over a controversial advertisement of a black child.
A photo on the company’s online website of a black boy wearing a green hoodie with the inscription “coolest monkey in the jungle” had triggered outrage on social media.
H&M and Clicks are not the only major companies to be hit by advertisement scandals in recent years.
Spanish clothing brand Zara in 2014 removed striped pajamas with a yellow star after facing outrage over its resemblance to clothes worn by Jewish prisoners in concentration camps.