James Charles, the boy who managed to land a first-of-its-kind contract with cosmetic magnate CoverGirl in 2016, has come under fire for an insensitive Twitter post that mocked the now-dormant Ebola crisis in Africa.
In a now-deleted tweet, the 17-year-old spokesperson expressed his concern about visiting the continent out of fear that he might catch the deadly virus from a native.
“I can’t believe we’re going to Africa today,” Charles stated in conversational-style mockery.
“OMG, what if we get Ebola?”
“James, we’re fine,” came his “response.”
“We could’ve [also] gotten it last year at ‘Chipotle’ last year.”
After several of his followers bombarded him with criticism over the statement and demanded an apology for his ignorance, Charles’ Tweet was removed, but he refused to make amends, instead telling people to “block” him and “move on,” as NewNowNext shared.
Affinity Magazine, one of the first online publications to report on the James Charles tweets, detailed why the young man’s comments were rightly criticized by his social media following.
“It is 2017, and many white people still see Africa as a wide grassland filled with animals and naked people,” Affinity writer Evelyn Atieno explained.
“What many people don’t realize is Africa is more than just Ebola or animals or naked people. Africa has one of the fastest growing economies. Places like Nigeria have become a hub for trade, and places like Kenya are boosting in technology. In fact, Kenya had a technological development that could send money to other people’s phones before Snapchat or Facebook.”
“As a spokesperson for CoverGirl,” Ms. Atieno continued, “[James Charles] has a moral obligation to uphold. By tweeting that, he is continuing to spread the ignorance people have about Africa.”
Additionally, the Ebola outbreak, which claimed a handful of lives in both Africa and America (by way of travelers returning to the country from the continent), was deemed mostly quelled by the World Health Organization in January 2016. When sent this information from his Twitter fans, Charles allegedly began blocking them and for a while, refused to answer any more questions on the controversial matter.
Incidentally, reps for CoverGirl in October of 2016 hoped that Charles, who gained the contract with boosts of approval from a celebrity spokesperson for the brand, entertainer Zendaya Coleman, would be a great fit due to his ability to think outside of the norm.
“All of our CoverGirls are role models and boundary breakers,” CoverGirl remarked, as E! Online notes, “fearlessly expressing themselves, standing up for what they believe, and redefining what it means to be beautiful. James Charles is no exception.”
After several hours of silence on his part, Charles took to Twitter once again to release a blanket apology.
I am extremely sorry. Regardless of my intentions, words have consequences. I take full responsibility and will learn and do better.— James Charles (@jamescharles) February 16, 2017
A lengthier and somewhat explicit message of remorse soon followed.
“I was told what to say and that’s not how apologies should work,” he stated in part.
“I am extremely sorry for my tweet and I feel like s**t for saying it. I look forward to exploring the country and learning much more about the people and culture, because clearly I know very little and a lot to learn.”
In their own statement on the James Charles Tweets, CoverGirl representatives relayed their disapproval of his messages and distanced themselves as much as they could.
“We agree [that] his statements were inappropriate, but appreciate that he has issued an apology,” the company remarked through Twitter.
“James Charles’ tweet does not represent CoverGirl’s perspective.”
No word on how James Charles’ Tweets may affect his future with the makeup brand. Despite his numerous apologies, Love B. Scott relays that many are calling for CoverGirl to terminate Charles’ contract immediately.
[Featured Image by James Charles/Instagram]