Brazilian toilet paper brand apologises for using black empowerment slogan

woman draped in toilet roll Image copyright Santher
Image caption The advert featured the words 'Black Is Beautiful' which have since been removed.

A toilet paper manufacturer in Brazil has dropped the slogan "Black Is Beautiful" from its black-coloured brand.

It is not so much the colour of the toilet roll, but the advert for it, which has attracted the most criticism.

Personal VIP Black toilet paper was launched on Monday by Sao Paulo manufacturers Santher.

It showed white actress Marina Ruy Barbosa draped in the black paper alongside the words 'Black Is Beautiful.'

The words have been removed following criticism by racial equality campaigners for the misappropriation of a slogan synonymous with a historic cultural movement intended to empower black communities.

Paulino Cardoso, a professor at Universidade de Estado de Santa Catarina and an organiser of black Latin American academics, railed against what he called a "band of damned racists."

He posted: "It is good to boycott and denounce all this propaganda".

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Image copyright AFP
Image caption Campaigner Steve Biko used the term 'Black Is Beautiful' as part of the Black Consciousness Movement

The term "Black Is Beautiful" emerged in the 1960s from African-American communities fighting for civil rights. It later become more prominent in the writings of the Black Conciousness Movement of Steve Biko during the anti-apartheid era.

The term was intended to promote black features such as skin colour and hair textures as equal to white beauty standards.

Rio de Janeiro-based writer Anderson Franca articulated why the term was offensive in a Facebook post.

"If you search 'Black Is Beautiful' anywhere in the world you'll find references to Angela Davis, Malcolm X, The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, Fela Kuti, James Baldwin, and Nina Simone, but not in Brazil," he posted.

"People died for this expression to be revered to this day. People are still dying and this expression is more important and vital than ever before.

"But in Brazil, if you type #blackisbeautiful you will find toilet paper."

Franca's post has been shared almost 3,000 times since being published on Monday evening with the discussion spreading across social media.

"In Brazil #blackisbeautiful is not a cause, it is toilet paper. Where do black lives matter?" agreed one Twitter user.

Others were less critical, suggesting the campaign was more ill-judged than racist.

While another Twitter user said he was not offended by the advert at all: "Mate, I'm black and I wasn't offended by this. Black is the colour of the paper, it doesn't refer to race. Crazy people need to stop trying to make a problem out of everything".

Manufacturer Santher withdrew the slogan and issued a statement on its website and the Facebook page of its Familia Personal brand.

"We would like to clarify that we have never had any intention of provoking a racial discussion through the launch of our Personal VIP Black Toilet Paper," read the statement.

The company also apologised for "the possible mistaken association of the phrase adopted by the black movement, which we respect and admire so much," and added "it's always time to learn."

Barbosa, who featured in the advert, has also apologised on her Twitter page for any offence caused.

Additional reporting by Pascal Fletcher, BBC Monitoring

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