VIDEO: QVC In Hot Water After “Racial Mocking”

Case of bad timing.


Left, the model. Right, the hosts. (And shiny bag.) | Screenshots from YouTube.

QVC, the empire of perpetual televised consumerism inexplicably plopped in the middle of sleepy West Chester, is battling backlash after a host made a live, on-air comment about bad hairstyles at the same exact time a camera panned to an African-American model sporting natural hair.

Poor timing, or a thinly veiled dig at natural African-American hair? Some bloggers were quick to decide:

Bougie Black Girl“Two White QVC hosts mock a Black Woman’s natural hair and humiliate her on TV.”

Bossip: “Race Matters: White QVC Host Apologizes For ‘Making Fun’ Of Beautiful Black Model’s Natural Hair Live On The Air.” 

Misee Harris: “Is QVC Racist? White Host Mocks Black Model’s Natural Hair.”

A blogger on Bougie Black Girl, the first site to post a reaction to the clip, wrote this (questionable capitalization hers):

“Apparently the White women hosts on QVC felt like it was OK to insult a Black woman who has natural hair. If you don’t know what QVC is, they are the folks who sell products on live TV. Check out the models reaction. It says it all.  I am heartbroken for her. In 2015, I am not surprised that it is still happening. What surprised me was how their hosts felt entitled to judge and humiliate a Black woman on TV.”

Here we go.

Shoppist is no stranger to calling out issues of potential racial or social discrimination, some obviously crossing the line (the “bloody” Kent State sweatshirt for sale at Urban Outfitters) and others up for debate (the Urban Outfitters holiday party, which most of you agreed was not at all cultural appropriation or offensive).

But, while on paper, the whole thing sounds rather racist, or at least very rude, the actual video clip shows that it’s more like a case of unfortunate timing:

I’ve been on QVC, and those women can talk. And talk. And talk. That’s their job. To talk about a product for a very, very long time, so that Dolores in Indiana has enough time to get her shit together and order that Isaac Mizrahi denim-style jacket before all quantities are sold out. Their energy levels are inhuman. They are like smooth-talking robots hopped up on Red Bull. It’s all very exhausting.

This makes it not at all surprising that a host who has been made to talk about a fugly Dooney & Bourke bag (blast from the past!) for hours on end somehow ends up pissing people off. For her part, the host, Sandra Bennett, has apologized on Facebook:

“Hi everyone. I want to apologize to anyone I offended during a recent Dooney & Bourke show. I made a comment along of the lines of when you carry a Dooney, you look good even if you don’t do your hair. It was meant to be lighthearted, but in the middle of my comment, the camera cut to Michelle, an African American model. I want to be clear that I was in no way talking about her. It was just terrible timing. In fact, despite how it may have appeared, I didn’t even realize this had happened until today when I saw some comments on Facebook and received a phone call. I have since called Michelle to apologize and thankfully, she didn’t remember the comment or even know any of this had happened. I’m confident that anyone who knows me personally understands I would never even think to make such a connection. Still, in our business perception is reality and I’m mortified that I gave that impression. So again, I’m very sorry to our viewers who felt hurt or angered by my comments.”

Of course, QVC is no stranger to racial upset. In 1999, the network was sued by two former employees who claimed that they were fired due to racial discrimination. But this doesn’t feel intentional in the slightest. (Nor did the model seem to react at all.)

Perhaps we’re all just a bit too sensitive, too inclined to look for slights. Maybe that Urban holiday party wasn’t all that bad. (The Kent State sweatshirt? That is gross any way you slice it.) But we’re all missing the real issue here: Who the heck is buying that hideous bag?