Woke Corporate Rhetoric Builds Brands But Ignores Real Problems | Opinion

The liberal strategy of redefining language continues to earn mainstream support. But it accomplishes little more than telegraph an insufferable wokeness that promotes brand building while obfuscating actual issues.

The multi-billion-dollar beauty brand Unilever is giving away grants based on the race of the mothers. But not based on gender. It announced the Black Birth Equity Fund to fulfill a "commitment to help close the gap in care and improve health outcomes." It'd have better results if not for the campaign's overt virtue signaling.

Rather than open up its initiative to females—the only gender with a reproductive system capable of giving birth—Unilever has adopted the gender identity language of fringe Democrats. Its fund is open to black "birthing individuals."

Democratic politicians popularized the bizarre phrase as part of their goal of increasing gender inclusivity. A May 2021 congressional committee hearing on high black maternal mortality rates earned widespread mockery after Rep. Cori Bush referred to "black birthing people" instead of "black mothers."

Unilever wants to address that very issue, noting black mothers suffer higher mortality rates than white, Asian or Latina mothers. Its fund will provide doula services to black moms and "birthing individuals." They will be there to provide "physical, spiritual, and emotional support during the birthing process."

But if Unilever wanted to address health inequities, as it claims, it's doing a poor job of it.

It's hard to take the company seriously. This campaign seems more focused on brand building for Dove soap than on black female health.

Dove appears only to embrace this language when pitching its products and brand to women. The same company that pretends "birthing individuals" is anything more than just a woke bumper sticker also sells gender-specific product lines like Men+Care. In fact, on the very same webpage announcing the Black Birth Equity Fund is a section for products specifically targeting men.

Why isn't the "men's antiperspirants and deodorants" section geared towards "individuals who sweat?" There are men's hair and facial cleansing sections. Beyond the products, the Dove men's line shared a commitment to fathers centered around biological men—"celebrating dads"—but not "individuals."

When pitching its products to men via the Dove brand line, Unilever drops the woke language. It does this, presumably, because its goal is to sell products, and the "gender-inclusive" language doesn't work as well on male consumers. The company could make a bold move and be all-inclusive for all its products and brand language, but that might hurt the bottom line.

Unilever plant
CASALPUSTERLENGO, ITALY - FEBRUARY 23: The main gate of the Unilever plant, where the so called 'Patient 1' used to work, on February 23, 2020 in Casalpusterlengo, south-west Milan, Italy. Casalpusterlengo is one of the ten small towns placed under lockdown earlier this morning as a second death from coronavirus sparked fears throughout the Lombardy region. Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images

Earning social currency for a brand doesn't address the issue of black maternal mortality, does it? That's supposedly what Unilever wants to address.

"Today, the US has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the developing world. Black women are more likely than White, Asian or Latina women to die from pregnancy-related complications, no matter their income or education level," the company writes, suddenly dropping the gender-inclusive language to focus on an issue that's important. "There are so many factors that come into play, but one reason is that a number of Black moms and birthing individuals do not have the same access to or quality of care."

If black mothers die at higher rates regardless of income, it strains credulity to believe they don't all have access to quality care. If a wealthy black mom has a similar outcome to a low-income black mom, then the underlying issue isn't access to health care services, and a free doula wouldn't close the gap.

Is this a roundabout way of claiming that doctors, or the entire health care system, are racist? Or our health institutions are founded on white supremacy? It's a typical smear progressive activists claim whenever there is a disparity they can't or won't explain.

But maybe racism isn't the direct cause at all.

White mothers have a lower mortality rate than black mothers. But they have a higher mortality rate than Hispanic mothers. Does racism account for white women having poorer health outcomes than Hispanic women?

It may be the new trend to blame racism for everything, but you skip over instructive data when you do that.

The CDC notes, for example, that a leading contributor to pregnancy-related death in black moms is cardiomyopathy, a disease that makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood. This and other heart-related disorders appear to affect black people disproportionately.

There's a mountain of this kind of data available to digest and address. But focusing on word policing gender or leaning into an "everything is racist" mentality does neither. How, exactly, would a doula from Unilever address or prevent heart issues during childbirth? Or after—since the CDC defines pregnancy-related death as one that occurs within a full year of birth. If the focus was on anything other than superficial political signaling, there could be some workable solutions.

Jason Rantz is a frequent guest on Fox News and is the host of the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH Seattle, heard weekday afternoons. You can subscribe to his podcast here and follow him on Twitter: @jasonrantz.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.