Profit from suffering

Let’s talk about Oreo’s trans-inclusive tweet — and why it’s bad

Robin Doyscher, Guest Columnist

Capitalism, one of the most insidious and dehumanizing economic systems ever known to man,has but one social strength — it is absolutely brilliant when it comes to pandering to the acceptable politics of the day.

The instance I’m referring to, and the inspiration for this lovely article, is the Oreo company’s tweet “Trans people exist,” a seemingly uncontroversial statement let loose onto the internet on Feb. 25, 2020, at 8:40 p.m. And, of course, the usual string of “wow, Oreos suddenly got political, why do I have to recognize the humanity of a group I’m not a part of?” tweets were released by many users concerned that an entire group of people existing was too political for them. Hearkening back to the boomer Facebook meme of a man nonchalantly addressing societal problems before brushing them aside by saying “I just wanna grill for God’s sake!”

However, the worst part of this internet encounter was that Oreo, as a brand and as a company, earned woke points for this highly non-committal, obfuscated statement. I saw many retweets praising the Oreo company for this bold stance on protecting the rights of a disenfranchised group. One Twitter user even tweeted about Oreo’s parent company, Mondelez International, which was given a perfect workplace equality score from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

Said user was ignoring the fact that Mondelez International, alongside Hershey, Mars and Nestlé are all being sued by a human rights group called International Rights Advocates, who is filing the suit on behalf of eight Malian men who were victims of child trafficking — forced to harvest cocoa on the Ivory Coast. Now, it could just be pure coincidence that this totally based and redpilled move by Oreo comes at the same time they’re literally being accused of utilizing child slavery, or this could be the latest in a long line of exploitative companies slapping progressive politics on their awful practices the way one slaps a bandaid on a scraped knee.

Do you know what’s in the headlines now? Oreo’s ‘inclusive’ trans tweet. The cool thing that Oreo did, not the fact that Ivory Coast children are being forced to harvest cocoa for multimillion dollar corporations that are using palm oil in their products — the major driver of deforestation of many of our earth’s most biodiverse forests.

As a transwoman, a phrase I always feel conflicted about uttering in moments like this is “no thank you.” I do not want my identity, one born out of a community oppressed by society, to be affirmed by a corporation that will gladly turn around and oppress those who aren’t able to get on social media and make some sort of snarky tweet about how eating Oreos helps human rights somehow.

Inevitably, with all marginalized identities, capitalism finds a way to profit off of the performative allyship afforded to these communities. Simply acknowledging trans people does nothing to advance transgender liberation, and stepping on the backs of a community to elevate corporate interests also at the expense of literal children forced into inhumane conditions is one of the most disgustingly dystopian pictures painted of our modern day society.

But hey, at least Mondelez International is being trans-inclusive towards their child slaves. A true win for intersectionality.