There are certain racial stereotypes that’ve been bestowed onto our community in ways that can still be hurtful to many. From our purported universal love for fried chicken to a penchant for the purple fizziness of grape soda, and even more nefarious generalizations like an inherited sense of laziness, overall it’s best to just not make assumptions about anything in order to avoid, as they say, being an ass.
One of the most common racially-motivated stereotypes is the connection between Black people and watermelon, which music mogul Diddy is claiming to be a focal point in his current discrimination lawsuit against Diageo.
Although things were business as usual on social media earlier this week while promoting the Diddy Direct program (seen above), it appears his time as a brand ambassador for DeLeon and more notably Ciroc will soon be coming to an end. According to AP News, the two opposing sides are in court over Diageo’s failure to treat DeLeon tequila “at least as favorably” as its more than 200 other brands in the roster, including Guinness beer and Tanqueray gin. Diddy believes the purchase and eventual popularity of Don Julio in 2014 and Casamigos in 2017 distracted Diageo and convinced them to market DeLeon as an “inferior urban brand” with limited distribution.
More details on the legal issues at hand below, via AP News:
“Diageo has denied Combs’ accusations. In late June, it asked the court to compel arbitration or dismiss the suit. It is also in the process of terminating a partnership between Combs and Ciroc vodka, a brand he had promoted since 2007.
The newly public documents detail what Combs says was Diageo’s repeated disinvestment in DeLeon. As of last year, DeLeon was distributed in 3% of possible outlets, for example, while Don Julio was in 36%. DeLeon has been listed as ‘out of stock’ in major markets at least ten times in the past year, the lawsuit says.
In 2021, Combs said he was informed that all of Diageo’s agave plants were allocated to other brands, forcing DeLeon to scramble to find suppliers in the more expensive spot market. Combs says Diageo also made unilateral decisions that harmed the brand, including discontinuing popular 375-millileter ‘half bottles’ and launching a redesigned bottle with no marketing support.
Combs claims Diageo’s decisions were often tinged with racism. He said he was adamant that DeLeon not offer flavored versions until customers had more time to learn about the brand. But Diageo went ahead and developed a watermelon flavor, even though Combs had previously warned the company to be careful about the racist history of watermelon in a brand aimed at Black consumers.”
Watermelons, as delectable as they are, historically were synonymous with poverty dating back to Egypt in the early 1800s. In a 2014 essay for The Atlantic, Rice University historian William R. Black found that watermelons were seen as “a poor Arab’s feast” that were oftentimes eaten “ravenously” by street patrons. Black people, as per usual, turned the stigma around and made watermelon a thing of enjoyment, leisure and nourishment after a day of working in the field. Once Emancipation came around, white people saw how watermelon was being used to grow and sell by Black people, and thus began denouncing the fruit as nothing more than a symbol for the Black man’s “laziness.”
Diageo fired back at Diddy’s original claims by bringing up the fact that he saw no issue in promoting the Ciroc Summer Watermelon campaign a few years back, stating in court documents, “His attempt to recast follow-up discussions regarding innovations for DeLeon is, as is his entire suit, disingenuous and self-serving.” The Bad Boy Records head honcho responded by making it clear that he only participated in the Summer Watermelon rollout after, in his words, “educating the company about watermelon and getting assurances from Diageo that it would be sensitive to any negative connotations.”
So, Diddy is claiming that Diageo is being neglectful and Diageo says Diddy is resorting to “false and reckless” allegations in pursuit of monetary damages. Which side is more in the right though, or better yet, can both be true at once?
Let us know what you think of the “Watermelongate” happening between Diddy and Diageo, and take a look below at what others are saying about it on social media:
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1. Surprises for me: I never thought of Ciroc as a African American brand; Diddy didn’t want his tequila marketed as an urban brand but wanted to keep selling pints; Diddy worried about selling watermelon flavored alcohol it may offend ADOS; it’s clear Diageo wants to let Diddy go
2. Playing the black minority card again? Ridiculous
3. Look I am no Diddy fan, but we all know in Amerikkka and around the world. Just because you have a billion dollars or close your black doesn’t make you any better than all the other black men. They all still see you as the same. So I can believe they said this to him.
4. When in doubt, it is always the others who are to blame.
5. So the Deleon shortage of last year and the surge of Don Julio and Casamigos was a plan concocted by the man!?!?! 👨
6. Diageo dropped Diddy WTF!!!
7. King Finesse 😭
8. Sean “Diddy” Combs made R18.8 billion from Ciroc in 15 years. He is about to lose the deal with Diageo. Sad.
9. @Diddy was the only reason I even bought @Ciroc high key 🔑 😬 @Diageo_NA Js 😑 #Diddy
10. Damn Diageo say they tired of Diddy BS 🤣 man times have changed