In a modern tale that keeps occurring, a retailer once again gave in to the demands of a handful of sensitive Sallys and pulled black pumpkins from sale after they were deemed offensive.
Displayed on the porch of a law office in Nyack, New York, a pair of jack-o’-lanterns found themselves in a mini-controversy after someone within the local community complained about them over concerns they looked like blackface. The issue reached the desk of a local chapter of the NAACP where director Wilbur Aldridge replied by saying the pumpkins show an “extreme lack of sensitivity.”
Upon being made aware of the ‘issue,’ the law firm abruptly took them down before then directing blame at their point of purchase, Bed Bath & Beyond. Mary Marzolla, a partner at the firm, told News 12: “If you go into Bed Bath & Beyond you don’t think they’re going to be selling offensive materials.”
Which begs the question. Who deems what to be offensive?
Clearly the law firm thought they were suitable, because during the interview the partners (one of whom has dark skin), expressed how they thought the pumpkins were acceptable decorations. Yet, because someone said so, they now believe they have no place in society and blame the retailer for selling them in the first place.
In a statement given to News 12, the NAACP added: “By now I would believe everyone [would] know that anything in blackface is offensive… Equally as offensive is that a retail store would have such an item in [their] inventory for general purchase.”
The statement is detached from reality as blackface is a very specific thing, and dark pumpkins with white faces drawn on them certainly don’t meet the stereotype presented in traditional blackface. White just happens to be a color that shows up well on dark material; there’s a reason chalk works so well on a blackboard.
Hell, black/white jack-o’-lanterns aren’t even a new thing. It’s been a common Halloween theme for as long as I can remember. Target sells a trick or treating candy bucket done up in the same way. So, suggesting anything with a charcoal color and a face is a no-no is a huge step backwards. It strips all intentional context from the mind.
There’s a big difference between a black pumpkin with no stereotyped features and say… Justin Trudeau roleplaying as a black man.
Yet, as per usual, context doesn’t matter, and now another company has knelt to the demands of a culture of people who find offense in everything.
Dolls were pulled from shelves at a dollar store because of racial accusations, Katy Perry was bombarded with rage over a pair of shoes, and even a chocolate duck found itself in hot water. Perhaps a bad spot for something that can so easily melt.
All examples of things which are in no way actual blackface, and they still got canceled. Though oddly, for Trudeau who just won an election, or Ralph Northam who remains governor of Virginia, our politicians who opt to smear themselves with shoe polish for entertainment when they really should know better, face no consequence at all.
Methinks outrage culture is choosing the wrong targets.
Sophia Narwitz is a writer & game journalist from the US.