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GAP Responds to Racist Graffiti With Humane Awesomeness

Having spent nearly 8 years living in New York City, I know a thing or two about spotting unfortunate DIY revisions on the movie posters and advertising campaigns that litter the walls of the city.  You’d be hard pressed to find a subway platform free of hand drawn penises and mustaches and other superfluous commentary.

Often times racist, sexist, and otherwise offensive graffiti goes unnoticed which is why Gap’s recently defaced ad, and the company’s respectful response, is filling the internet with all sorts of holiday cheer.

The controversy features model/ designer Waris Ahluwalia.

Ahluwalia is originally from Punjab India and has found success through his company House of Waris which serves as both a platform to showcase his jewelry designs as well as a means of collaborating with a wide range of designers and companies.

He was recently featured in a Gap ad campaign and had one particular billboard off the Bronx 6 train vandalized by someone who thought it wise to write “stop driving taxis” near his face while also changing the tagline of “make love not war” to “make bombs not war”.

According to The Huffington Post, the image of the vandalized photo was taken by photographer Robert Gerhardt. This was picked up by Arsalan Iftikhar of who received a Twitter response from Gap requesting more information about the incident.

Gap’s subsequent response was subtle but powerful.

Without much fanfare the company gave the pre-vandalized version of the ad prime real estate on their various social media platforms– making it the cover photo on their Facebook page as well as the background of their Twitter page.

To be clear, the Gap has more than its fair share of not awesome things to be held accountable for, but in this instance they did good.

There are no tweets/ shares highlighting the act– they’re  just publicly doubling down on behalf of the person behind the ad in a way that admonishes the hatred sent his way on a sole billboard in the Bronx.

That’s all sorts of awesome.

Ahluwalia then took to Facebook to post a re-enactment of the ad featuring children.

Diversity is the way of the future- ho ho hope vandals far and wide must learn to get comfortable with it.

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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.