Monday Musings: Unpacking the 84 Lumber Commercial


Monday was supposed to be a light and fluffy day where I told you about the books we have under our belt with this awesomesauce reading challenge. But then the Superbowl happened and I stayed up half the night finding new boxes that held fragmented feelings that I then tried to put together like one big puzzle piece. This is about the 84 Lumber commercial.

At First Glance

The scene opens with a little girl waking up at the crack of dawn. It reminds you of what your child might do on a particular morning when something momentous is about to happen.

The mom and daughter dress, pack a few things including pictures and go on their way.They say goodbye to an old gentlemen that I can only imagine is the grandpa.

As they go on their journey, the little girl collects pieces of paper, plastic, etc. They jump on a train, they run from a rainstorm. Music plays and you feel yourself tied to these two. Or maybe it's just me.

The full ad is not shown on TV. Instead, the viewer was directed to "see the conclusion at". The site crashed with over 300k views in the first minute after the commercial aired (load testing, anyone?).

The Feels

When the commercial aired, there was nothing to tell us who put this up or what it was. In fact, 84 Lumber is, well, a lumber company. And herein begins the proverbial fuckshit.

Epilogue of feels: the reason I had the feels was because I've read so many stories of people that have made that journey. It's not as clean and glamorous as it was portrayed in the ad but, I could see the child that was afraid of being killed in her neighborhood taking that journey. The mom who had already lost 2 of her children wanting to save her last.

The Ending

As they make their journey, perfectly safe and sometimes laughing, - let me stop here to say: after taking time to process, it occurred to me that people in the U.S. - mostly white people - seem to think that you wake up one day in another country and think that you'll go on and cross the border in this beautiful, carefree kind of way. This shit is problematic. - they make it to the border.

Prior to them making it there, though. We see construction taking place. If you were like me, you had a feeling it was the Wall that the Burnt Sienna Satan has promised to be build.

Thoughts and observations as I watched: is that her husband? Is that the little girl's father? Is he meeting them? What's the main idea here? What company is this?!?

They make it to the border only to find this big wall. The mother, stares at it and realizes that there's no getting through it. 

Thoughts and observations: have you ever been despondent as you realize you have to backtrack in your journey when you are not the only one on it? How many people have had to turn back from their journey due to the sheer brutality of it with or without a wall?

Just then, the little girl pulls out an American flag that she has created from all the tattered pieces of paper that she has collected along the way. As the mom stares at it, she begins to cry and hugs her child.

But she hears the howling wind. Cut away to the white man driving away with lumber in his truck feeling good about himself. The mom and daughter run around the side of the wall and find...


Thoughts and observations as I was watching: BOOM. Yes! A wall isn't going to keep people away! #ThugTears

Again, my experiences are such that I readily identify with standing in front of these walls even though I came here on an airplane at age 4. I saw the proverbial doors of opportunity, in spite of the general feelings of the current times.

At the end of the commercial, the words on the screen said this: The will to succeed is always welcome here.

*Insert uneasy "what is this really, really, really about" feeling.


I told you I've been unpacking. Here's why. Twitter lost its mind. Folks were swearing up and down that they'd NEVER buy lumber from 84 Lumber! Side note: I gotta do better because I don't know the name of the lumber I got when doing my reno projects.

I was going to Storify some of them for you but the way Storify is acting right now, I put it on time out until further  notice.

It's been interesting to see: 1. people that are wholeheartedly against this "obvious" condoning of illegal immigration and b. people that are so willing to go buy lumber now because this story uplifts immigrants.

It's hard to unpack this. Except that I'm really pissed off that my brother is in my head right now with his whole "brands show you good but still do bad" perspective.

I dropped the link to the video on the fan page and followed it up with a link to the Wall Street Journal's article.

You see, in that article, I read this:

"Even President Trump has said there should be a 'big beautiful door in the wall so that people can come into this country legally.' It's not about the wall. It's about the door in the wall. If people are willing to work hard and make this country better, that door should be open to them."

Those words were uttered by 84 Lumber's president and owner, Maggie Hardy Magerko who, by other accounts, is a Trump supporter.

A total of $5 million were spent on that ad. The ad that made my eyes teary. The one that glamorized the journey that so many have never made it through alive. The ad that showcased a benevolent white man building a door for the poor Mexicans trying to come to this country. An ad by a company that supports the wall but at the same time, is rumored to want to hire immigrants because they can pay them a lower wage (hey, that $5 million has to come from somewhere, right?). Check out Dan's comment on the 84 Lumber's video share.

And early Monday morning, I'm left with a bad taste in my mouth. Kinda like when you've had Bourbon and cigars the night before and can still taste it on your palate the next morning.

  • Using the narrative that you wake up one day, pack and walk across the border is wrong.
  • The benevolent subconscious fuckshit of the white man building us a door that we can use to enter is wrong.
  • The idea that a lumber company can try and tell someone that the will to succeed is welcomed here when every damn day the powers that be (see: patriarchy. see: white supremacy) tries to break the will to succeed of the people that are already wrong.
  • The fact that I now have to research lumber for the next reno (LUMBER, Y'ALL!) is wrong.

Pause: after that last point, my spirit needs to drop a petty meme.

I'm still unpacking and processing. About this ad, about the return of the Coca Cola ad, about the Air B&B ad. Hell, even the Hyundai ad that I argued with my brother about at the end of the Superbowl. Because DAMMIT! Can't we just be happy for the soldiers that got surprised and had a chance to watch the game from halfway around the world with their families and NOT think about the fact that Hyundai could've just done this without saying a word? But don't we want to know when companies do good? How do we juggle the end game, the intent?

Surprise! This post is mostly about questions. I don't have a lot of answers. Except maybe this: I loved watching those military families enjoy that little moment with their soldiers. I took it in and imagined how they must've felt. I didn't want to take in the intent behind it because some days, it's about the people and not the politics or purchases.

What's the balance? I'm still mulling it over. But for now, this particular commercial made me feel like I just took a long relaxing bath with lavender and incense burning in the background only to step out of the clawfoot tub to realize that someone had been watching me through a crack in the window all along.