Burger King has joined in the trend of chain restaurants offering their non-food-related opinions, adding to their menu a burger called “The Proud Whopper.” USA Today reports that the burger, clad in a rainbow wrapper, was sold for just under one week at one Burger King restaurant in San Francisco for their 44th annual Pride Celebration & Parade. The flag-inspired wrapper read, “We are all the same inside.” On the surface, this campaign seems completely harmless, right? I’m not so sure.
First off — Burger King is literally a burger joint chain. So far in my research of Burger King’s pride campaign, I have seen no evidence that any proceeds from the burger are being used to actually benefit the LGBTQIA+ community. To me, that — and the fact that the Burger King in question just happened to be at the center of one of the nation’s largest Pride Celebrations — reads as more of a business move than an actual support.
More importantly: We are not “all the same.” No two people come from the same background, hold the same beliefs, have the same dreams and aspirations, define success the same way, et cetera, et cetera — we are all conglomerates of our own life experiences, and that’s what makes us individuals and actually ties us together as humans. As 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner and social rights activist Desmond Tutu says:
“We should celebrate our diversity; we should exult in our differences as making not for separation and alienation and hostility but for their glorious opposites.”
People who identify as cisgender and heterosexual, or cishets, are certainly more privileged in today’s society than the LGBTQIA+ community — which includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer-identified, intersex, and asexual people, as well as others who do not identify as cishet people. While LGBTQIA+ discrimination continues to decrease on the widerscale, it still exists. Takepart reports a recent study showed that those who included history of LGBTQIA+ activism on their resumes were less favored by employers than those who didn’t.
Now, I truly doubt Burger King has some sort master-mind evil plan to eliminate diversity. I don’t see the burger as any attack on my identity. I’m sure that there were no ill intents, and I truly commend the King for trying to support the LGBTQIA+ community! I mean, Burger King has proudly been telling us, “Have it your way” for how long? However, there are serious implications behind Burger King claiming all people are “the same.”
As a white biological male who identifies within the LGBTQIA+ community, I would not say I am “the same inside” as a non-white immigrant, for instance. As an American-born white person, I hold an unfortunate amount of privilege over that person. (For those who have yet to fully grasp the concept of privilege — it’s okay, it isn’t very well-explained! — the best definition I’ve ever heard is David Gaider’s: “Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because it’s not a problem to your personally.)” The afore-described person and I have almost certainly undergone difference discrimination based on our identities. Essentially by claiming that we are “the same inside,” I blow off the privilege I hold over them.
The problem with Burger King’s sameness motto essentially follows the same course as “racial colorblindness,” which is truly a form of racism in and of itself. “We are the same,” equates to saying “I don’t even see you as…,” which equates in turn to, “I am choosing to ignore any uniqueness or difference about you because I am uncomfortable attempting to relate to humans who do not identify exactly as I do.”
Is there not a difference between equality and sameness? After all, no group of people will ever be the same as another group of people, and no person will ever be the same as another person. And isn’t that something to be recognized, embraced, and celebrated?
If your opinion on the Burger King pride campaign differs from mine, I’d love to hear how you interpret this campaign.
[Image via DailyNews]