Last Wednesday, the owner of Unbroken Designs, Jennifer Rando, a fitness gear and apparel manufacturer, posted a racial slur in an Instagram story igniting a firestorm of angry reactions from those associated with the brand as well as members of the fitness community and beyond. The slur “Wetback Wednesday” and a stylized Mexican man holding a sombrero were posted along with an image of Rando’s two kids eating tacos.
- When one Instagram user brought it to Rando’s attention that “wetback is a derogatory term,” she responded: “Yes i am aware of what wetback means.”
- Rando deleted the post Wednesday evening and reposted the picture of her children with a different caption.
The initial fallout was swift. By Thursday morning, reactions to the situation intensified, as some followers had screenshotted and circulated the post. The post made it’s way onto the CrossFit subreddit under the title, “Get to know the brands you’re buying from…owner of Unbroken Designs knowingly made derogatory remark in her story.” The Reddit post has since garnered nearly 200 mostly negative comments.
- By Thursday afternoon, Rando had issued a video apology, which was deleted after being blasted as disingenuous in the comments.
- In the video, she says: “Yesterday I posted a photo of my kids eating tacos that included a derogatory comment, while I knew that the comment had negative connotations, I didn’t realize how offensive it was, which I learned very quickly.”
- She continued, “I’m sorry. I’m a white girl. I don’t know what oppression is…I didn’t mean anything by posting that comment, and yeah, I’m a product of white privilege.”
- “This is not a reflection on Unbroken Designs, it’s not a reflection on my kids, it’s not a reflection on how I’m raising my kids…this is a reflection on me and a really bad judgment call,” she said.
What they’re saying: “For a public figure and owner of a well-known CrossFit brand, she should be a better role model or get out of the business that promotes ‘community,” wrote Riki Tyminski, a third-generation Mexican-American athlete who has worked with Unbroken Designs in the past as a model/brand ambassador and as recently as March 30, was hired by the company to write a blog post about quarantine nutrition.
- Tyminski also said: “That she says she is aware (that it is a racial slur) and still used that term is very disappointing; for that, I am 100% no longer going to be doing business with her. And, I regret doing a recent blog for her website. I’m telling you right here, right now, that I am no longer associating myself with Jen Rando and Unbroken Designs.”
- Amanda Marie (@simplymander on Instagram), an athlete/influencer who worked with Unbroken Designs previously, posted “I DO NOT AGREE WITH WHAT SHE SAID IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM…Please do not associate me with her ridiculous statements and racist comments. I will not stand for that…and I will not support her or the brand from here on out.”
- On Sunday, fitness vlogger, ObesetoBeast posted a video discussing the entire issue.
The big picture: The Unbroken Designs brand is now in a potential free fall with anyone formerly associated with Unbroken seeking to distance themselves from a toxic company. Both Facebook and Instagram accounts are still up but commenting has been disabled on Instagram.
Damage control: Unbroken Designs is going to donate 10% of its net profits to the ACLU for the next six months. The Morning Chalk Up asked Jennifer Rando for a response to why she posted the remark in the first place:
- “I know there is nothing that I can say or do that will rectify what I did. I really messed up bad. I deserved to be called out, so thank you to those who shined a light on my ignorance. I obviously have a lot of work to do. I hope people can understand that I had no intention of projecting hate in my post. At the time, I did not realize that the term was as offense [sic] as it is for many people. People from the community have taken the time to educate me on what the weight of the word carries and what it means to the Mexican community. I can tell you that I will never make this mistake again.”
- “I have personal and professional relationships with people of all cultures, and the last thing I would want to do is insult them. I am sincerely sorry to the Mexican community, the Mexican American community, and anyone else that I have offended. As a formal apology, Unbroken Designs will be donating 10% of its net profits to the ACLU for the next six months. Again, I am truly very sorry.”
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