If there are two colors that you associate with Halloween, they’re orange and black. Given this, you would think that a black jack-o’-lantern wouldn’t spark that much controversy.
However, Bed, Bath & Beyond has taken black decorative pumpkins off of its shelves after two of them sparked a controversy in Nyack, New York.
According to News 12, the pumpkins — which have white lips, eyes and noses — first became an issue when they were put out on the front porch of a law firm in the New York village.
The pumpkins had the names of the partners in the law firm on them. Here they are (well, were) at the law offices of Feerick Nugent MacCartney:
The store says it took action after News 12 reached out but would not say if it had received any other complaints – https://t.co/Lg8rSYwcbH
— News12WC (@News12WC) October 21, 2019
The law firm began to receive complaints that the pumpkins looked like they were in blackface. Not only that, but the local NAACP chapter got involved, too.
Displaying the pumpkins “shows an extreme lack of sensitivity,” according to NAACP regional director Wilbur Aldridge.
“By now I would believe everyone [would] know that anything in Black face is offensive,” Aldridge said.
“Equally as offensive is that a retail store would have such an item in [their] inventory for general purchase.”
Well, no longer — Bed, Bath & Beyond has taken them off of its shelves.
In a statement, the store said that they had removed the jack-o’-lanterns from their inventory once they were contacted by News 12.
“We have immediately removed the item from sale,” the company said via a statement.
“This is a sensitive area and, though unintentional, we apologize for any offense caused.”
The store added that it had meant no offense by the product — obviously, considering they had stocked it as part of their Halloween merchandise — although they neglected to say whether they had received any other complaints.
The law firm is also apologizing.
“We understand that someone complained about them and so once we got word of that we immediately took them down,” Mary Marzolla, a partner at Feerick Nugent MacCartney law offices, said.
“We represent people of all colors and faiths, and we would never do anything to exclude anyone from any community.”
Alak Shah, Marzolla’s associate, said the thought of the pumpkins being racist hadn’t even crossed his mind.
“It’s just nothing I take offense to personally, but since it did offend someone we took proactive steps to take it down,” Shah said.
Except nobody needed to do this.
This is certainly not the first year a black pumpkin has been displayed during the Halloween season — though nothing seems to be safe from accusations of racism anymore.
Again, black is one of the colors everyone thinks of when they think of Halloween. That’s clearly the reason behind this — not blackface. None of the exaggerated features of blackface are here. None of the offensive context is present.
Furthermore, no reasonable person looks at a jack-o’-lantern — yes, even one with a black hue — and sees a blackface caricature. However, they’re also so conditioned to jump at any accusation of racism like a dog who’s just heard fireworks that we end up with something like this.
All this does is cede control of cultural mores to the perpetually aggrieved.
Enough is enough. Pumpkins aren’t racist, and it’s time we stood up to ridiculousness like this.
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