There are some generally accepted colors for Halloween, including orange and black. As a way to change things up, Bed Bath & Beyond offered black jack-o’-lanterns as an alternative to the traditional orange ones. However, accusations quickly flew at the chain that they were racially insensitive.
A New York State location has had to pull its entire inventory of black jack-o’-lanterns because of people complaining about the decorations.
The location was selling the black pumpkins for Halloween and throughout the fall season, featuring a black pumpkin with white eyes, nose, and grinning mouth. A spokesperson for the store said that there was no intent to cause offense. However, when they found out that they were being identified as racially insensitive, they quickly removed the item from the sales floor.
In Nyack, New York, a law firm had a display of pumpkins and, as a result of community outcry, they removed their display – and Bed Bath & Beyond were quick to follow suit.
According to the spokesperson for the store, it was unintentional. They recognize that it was a sensitive area and apologized for any offense they may have caused.
Many people who felt that it was insensitive called the pumpkins a form of “blackface.” However, it was simply a black pumpkin with the face in white. Had it been a reverse of a traditional jack-o’-lantern, with the face in orange, it begs the question of whether people would still have taken offense. It was in an orange pumpkin with a black face drawn on it – but people are getting upset over everything these days. Rather than simply not buying it, they wanted it removed from the stores to prevent anyone from buying it.
The law offices in Nyack address the role they played in having the store remove the products. They have identified that they represent people of all faiths and colors and don’t want to do anything that would exclude people from the community.
A regional director for the local NAACP division, Wilbur Aldridge, identify that the pumpkins created an “extreme lack of sensitivity.” He continued by saying “by now,” he felt that everyone would know that blackface is offensive. He felt that it was equally offensive that a retail store would even have such a product within their inventory for people to buy.
According to the NAACP, the pumpkins were identified as blackface, which is where people took offense. The regional director made the assumption that people would automatically establish that the jack-o’-lantern was blackface – and that’s where the confusion begins. How can a jack-o’-lantern be blackface? Black is a generally accepted color of Halloween, yet people want to make it into something more than it needs to be.
Many people have been using pumpkins of all sorts of colors in order to create different displays. Plenty of people use black and orange in a variety of different ways for their fall and hollowing displays because they are the two most accepted colors. Apparently, though, if it’s used in the wrong way, it’s a racial offense. By next year, black may be eliminated from the color scheme entirely just to avoid offending the wrong person.
This happened in New York, where there are plenty of people taking offense at virtually everything. It’s no surprise that this location had to pull their product due to complaints. There have not been reports of other locations having to pull their “blackface” pumpkins.
A quick Internet search can generate hundreds of photos of people who have spray-painted their pumpkins black and then carved them, creating an orange or white face. If anything, the pumpkin’s face is white, so it would be a white face.
However, people are going to get offended no matter what is done. If there is an opportunity for someone to get offended and accept a basic win when they get a major store to pull its inventory, they’re going to take it. It’s simply the world we live in today.
The NAACP will probably get offended when Christmas rolls around, too, when Santa doesn’t have a black face. There’s no way that the stores can win. They put a black face when they shouldn’t and they don’t put one when they should.
If people are going to get so offended at everything, they should really come up with some basic rules so people know how to deal with them. Otherwise, we will be constantly working to correct issues when we struggle to be inclusive and still manage to offend someone.