By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid
From the same store that stays sold out of Princess Tiana dolls (especially the green-gowned ones), from the same store that stays sold out of the latest Black Barbies (I was lucky I got this one, button not included)….
I saw this display for some Target “Spook-tastic Savings”….
Which is fine–I still watch and collect DVDs, even though they’re becoming an obsolete medium–so I’d purchase some…until I saw exactly what was on sale.
If my photo’s too blurry or the print too small, my deepest apologies. I tried surreptitiously to take the photo. What’s on the shelf:
The Brothers, The Color Purple, Diary of a Tired Black Man, Eve’s Bayou, The Five Heartbeats, Gifted Hands, Good Hair, Purple Rain, Menance II Society, School Daze…
…to name a few.
To those who may not know: “spook” is a racial slur for Black people.
To answer the question of where I saw this, the display was in a Target in downtown Brooklyn, NY, where a large number of its on-floor staffers are Black and has a very racially and ethnically diverse customer flow.
Of course, we can talk about intentions–the usual variations of “they probably didn’t mean it” that I heard from a couple of customers–but the impact is the continued perpetuation of an single old stereotype, even with a display of new(er) and varied representations of Blackness.
Just in time for the holiday.
I called over a sales associate, a very sweet young Black man.
“‘Spook’ is an offensive term referring to Black people. Having ‘spook-tastic’ and Black films together can be considered offensive.”
He looked at the display with surprise and apologized. “Oh really? I’m so sorry. I’m not in charge of the display.” He looked at it again, the “aha” moment spreading across his face.
“Is there a manager? If you want to let the person know…maybe I can speak to him or her?”
“Sure.” He found a manager in the next aisle. He discussed the situation with her and came back to me.
I said to the sales associate, “Maybe you can find some horror films to put up on the display, which would be more appropriate. But “spook” and Black films…just nah.” When I finished what I said, the manager peeked her head around the corner.
I walked away to try out my iPod on a display stereo to see if music was coming out of one speaker just on my speakers or if it was just jainking up on other equipment.
When I left the store, the associate, the manager, and a security guard gathered around the display, discussing it.
ETA: The sign was changed to something about their “low price promise.” And I purchased a green-gowned Princess Tiana doll.
Photo credits: Andrea (AJ) Plaid