Makeup guru Jackie Aina is under fire for using a slogan linked to Nigeria’s anti-police brutality movement as “aesthetic” in her new candle collection.
Aina, 35, started out as a beauty YouTuber and is known for campaigning for inclusion for people of color in the makeup industry. After calling out the brand Too Faced about their limited color palette, Aina collaborated with the brand to expand their foundation collection to include darker skin tones.
On Thursday, Aina’s homewares brand FORVR Mood announced four new candle fragrances, one of which was called ‘Sòro Sókè’. The phrase, which means “speak up” in Yoruba, was a rallying cry used during demonstrations against police brutality in Nigeria.
Nigerian social media users have slammed the candle scent’s name as insensitive and have criticized Aina for being slow to use her platform to spur the movement at the height of the protests. Aina’s name was trending on Twitter on Friday.
Representatives from Aina and FORVR Mood did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
From Friday afternoon, the quotation for the “Sòro Sókè” candle will no longer appear FORVR Mood website. The product is shown as “unavailable”. Sephora. A YouTube video Advertising for the product remains.
However, the backlash against Aina continues online.
Aina has been criticized for her silence on the #EndSARS movement, a youth-led campaign to dismantle Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The police force conducted a “horrific reign of impunity,” Amnesty International noted in a Report June 2020. The organization said it documented at least 82 cases of “torture, ill-treatment and extrajudicial execution” between January 2017 and May 2020.
Activists have been calling for SARS to be resolved for years. A video circulating in early October 2020, apparently showing SARS officers fatally shooting a man, sparked anti-police unit protests across Nigeria. The police force was disbanded on October 11, 2020 following global pressure, but demonstrations calling for law enforcement reform continued throughout the year.
The phrase “Sòro Sókè” was used as a rallying cry during the demonstrations and came to represent Nigeria’s movement against police brutality and corruption.
Aina has been criticized for not publicly supporting the movement until after SARS was resolved. Following mounting pressure to address #EndSARS from followers, Aina posted a thread of infographics in October 2020 calling for police reform in Nigeria and justice for victims of SARS-related violence. She also expressed her support in one Instagram post five days later.
Some of Aina’s followers weren’t happy with her posts. Writer Taire Tamarah answered“I tagged you in a tweet in the heat of things as a Nigerian who other Nigerians in the makeup and beauty industry look up to, it’s sad it’s taken so long for you to speak out. ”
The release of the “Sòro Sókè” candle sparked a new wave of criticism against Aina. in one YouTube video About the name, Aina described the sandalwood and cardamom-scented candle as “bold” and said she wanted to “give it a name that somehow fits the energy of the scent.”
Twitter users compared the meaning of the phrase to those of other social movements. Anthropology researcher Princess Banda described called the fragrance name “immoral,” writing, “This is the equivalent of a brand calling a product ‘#BLM’, ‘Say Her Name,’ or ‘Free Palestine.'”
Others have accused her of only accepting her inheritance when it suits them. Twitter user Imoteda, who also runs an online candle shop, said that Aina’s “Nigerian cosplay” was “above disrespectful” to the victims of police brutality and the slain protesters. Twitter user Uchenna_ap criticized Aina for “playing a Nigerian dress up party and trying to capitalize on the phrase commemorating the unjust death and suffering of innocent Nigerians”.
Aina also received fresh backlash for her October 2020 Instagram post, which included a picture of a perfume bottle with the words “END SARS” and “EAU DE PROTESTS.”
“Young people were dying in Nigeria and this is what Jackie Aina posted in support of the movement because ‘aesthetics must be aesthetics’,” Twitter user TheOluwabukunmi said. “She wants to make money with the same movement now??? No, it doesn’t happen. How can we please remember these candles?”
The controversy surrounding the candles, as well as Aina’s approach to social causes, also sparked discussion online about the ethics of influencer culture. Writer Zuva Seven tweeted that the industry “depends on the marketing and sale of products”.
“So yes, aestheticizing your culture to sell candles makes sense in that regard,” Seven wrote in one thread. “No hatred of influencers either! People have to do what they have to do. However, it is very important to realize that not everything needs to be seen (or created) as brand potential or content. Discernment is key, especially in industries like this.”
Neither Aina nor FORVR Mood have publicly addressed the criticism of the new product.
https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/viral/jackie-aina-soro-soke-candle-nigeria-police-brutality-protest-backlash-rcna41789 YouTuber Jackie Aina is under fire for naming a candle after a Nigerian protest slogan