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Make it Black campaign
Courtesy of Make It Black

Beauty brands are changing their packaging to address anti-Black bias

TextAlex Peters

The ‘Make it Black’ campaign aims to redefine the connotations of the word Black

Uoma founder Sharon Chuter wants to change the way people think about the word ‘Black’ and she’s enlisted all your favourite beauty brands to help. 

First launched last February, the ‘Make it Black’ campaign aims to shift perceptions around what it means to be Black by rejecting negative connotations and celebrating the beauty of Blackness. To raise awareness and create meaningful conversations, the campaign partners with different beauty brands to create limited edition, all-black packaging for some of the industry’s most well known products. All profits go to the Pull Up for Change Impact Fund, which provides funding to emerging Black founders.

Following a successful first incarnation which raised $400,000, this year the campaign has partnered with brands including MAC Cosmetics, Morphe, Mented, E.l.f. Cosmetics, Uoma, and Flower Beauty. MAC is also contributing an additional $150,000 donation to the Pull Up For Change Impact Fund.

“A lot of people just felt these were always the connotations of ‘Black’: that it’s always been bad, it’s always been evil,” Chuter told WWD. “When it comes to something as fundamental as language, people are less likely to think that something is broken.”

Make it Black is part of Chuter’s wider initiative Pull Up For Change, launched in 2020, which challenges companies to disclose the number of Black employees at the corporate and executive levels with the aim of holding these brands accountable for their social media solidarity posts.

While working on Pull Up For Change, Chuter discovered that many Black employees at these companies didn’t want to be identified as Black. “This is something that, if I’m honest, has been bothering me for years in terms of language, and for a while now, I’ve been obsessed with racial linguistics, as it’s called, and the impact of language on race because that’s really what shapes our minds,” she said in an interview with Forbes. Alongside the first campaign, Chuter also launched a petition calling on dictionaries to update their definitions of “black” to remove associations with negativity.

“A lot of the issues that Black people face at work are not a result of conscious bias but are a result of unconscious bias, and unconscious bias is driven by systemic racism,” she explains. “And the only way to offset unconscious bias is to do the opposite and to make a conscious effort to counter it.” 

A beauty veteran, who worked with some of the biggest companies in the industry including at LVMH as head of corporations for Benefit, Chuter has seen first hand the lack of diversity within the industry. It was the dissatisfaction of working to build brands that didn’t care for or cater to her as a Black woman that led her to found her own brand, Uoma in 2018. “I was working with companies and I couldn't use 85 per cent of the products,” she previously told Dazed Beauty. “I understood the impact that has on people. Even for me sitting there, it’s only a while before you think something is wrong with you. Why can’t I use those products?”

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