I’ve always been a supporter of the NAACP, sort of. I’ve never been a paid member of the organization, nor have I ever joined a campus or local chapter. I haven’t participated in NAACP functions or actions. I mean, I’m a pretty functioning Negro doing my part every day to advance colored people so I think I’ve done something. I’m a supporter in theory because I’ve always believed in the mission of the NAACP and I have great respect for the organization’s historical impact. I’ve even come to the defense of the NAACP’s continued use of the word “colored” in its name (I really don’t think that they should change it at all, but that’s another story). Yesterday, however, I pretty much gave up on the NAACP altogether after reading about the Los Angeles NAACP’s condemnation of a Hallmark greeting card.
A graduation card sold at local stores has been pulled from shelves after a civil rights group raised concerns about the content. The group claims the card’s micro-speaker plays a greeting that’s racist. It is a graduation greeting from Hallmark that says, “Hey world, we are officially putting you on notice.” Members of the Los Angeles NAACP did take notice. As characters known as “Hoops” and “Yoyo” banter on, African American leaders hear offensive language. “And you black holes, you are so ominous. Watch your back,” the card vocalizes.
“That was very demeaning to African American women. When it made reference to African American women as whores and at the end, it says ‘watch your back,’” said Leon Jenkins of the Los Angeles NAACP. – ABC 7 LA
Huh? To really understand how ridiculous LA NAACP’s claim is, you absolutely MUST hear the card’s audio.
*Sigh* “Whores?” “Hos?” Really? When I first heard about this, I thought someone would be making a stink over the fact that the characters are named Hoops and Yo-Yo. Maybe the NAACP thought the characters were being disrespectful to the real Hoops and Yo-Yo? Perhaps the characters are buffoons and the organization thought they were conceived of as Black (see the Jar-Jar Binks shit storm). Anything but a total misunderstanding of enunciation. Isn’t the NAACP supposed to focus on important things like health care, the economy, and our civil rights? Instead, they’ve got chapters full of old, deaf people playing the race card (no pun intended). Accuse me of being ageist but I don’t care. The majority of people I know who go around confusing the word “holes” for “whores” or “hos” are old Black folks with loose dentures. Isn’t it time for the NAACP to inject some fresh, new blood into America’s oldest civil rights organization? As Jasmyne Cannick wrote in 2007,
The NAACP is 98 years old [101 at present] and at times, I feel like it’s being run by 98 year olds. Which is in no way to slight my elders, but to say that at some point, you have to make real room for new and younger leaders to take the helm of our organizations and causes or they are going to die with you. And no matter how much you think you’re running things now, there isn’t much you can do from the grave. All of the youth board and coalitions in the world don’t mean anything if you don’t eventually allow its members to move up the ladder of leadership, which at the end of the day is really the goal right?
I echo Jasmyne’s sentiment when she goes on to say,
I am of the belief that the NAACP is needed but we need to bring the organization into the 21st century, literally. The NAACP is the organization that is flocked to when something bad is said or done to Blacks, when they speak, America listens. No one wants to piss off the NAACP. It’s the one organization that corporation’s fall all over each to sponsor to show that they like Black people. It is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and it is in a state of crisis, to say the least, and by the definition of our race, so are we. It’s time to explore new ways of thinking and to invite new people to the table. If we don’t it’s very likely that the NAACP will cease to be relevant to entire generations of young Blacks and eventually disappear all together.
Oh wait, looks like the NAACP IS trying to move in a younger direction with the percentage of members in their 20s – 40s having increased nearly 25% in the last decade. It remains to be seen what comes of the organization’s new move of appointing non-black chapter presidents and taking on civil rights issues that pertain to communities identifying as other than just black.
If broader issues and younger membership are priorities for the national NAACP, they ought to send a memo to Los Angeles. I want to know what the folks at headquarters think about this nonsense. I cannot stand when people of color are accused of playing the race card whenever we have a legitimate gripe, but our most visible representatives aren’t helping when they cry wolf about things that do not matter WHATSOEVER. It’s discrediting and turns an important institution into a joke. I sure as hell laughed out loud at my desk when I heard about this yesterday.
What’s more, I HATE that Hallmark capitulated to LA NAACP’s pressure. Sure, it’s great that Hallmark is listening to the concerns of consumers, especially those who feel wronged or disrespected by the company. But for Hallmark to pull the totally inoffensive card from store shelves because some old people can’t hear… well that’s just plain shameful. “In any situation where there is a circumstance that we need to be sensitive to, we try to learn from that experience,” said Hallmark spokesman Steve Doyal. Well, for my part, Hallmark seems to really want to please their diverse customers as illustrated by their variety of multicultural cards and their willingness to react to this malarkey. Let osterizer tell it,
This kind of knee-jerk manufactured outrage is nonsense; it should embarrass Los Angelenos. The fact that Hallmark gave in to this outrage and pulled the card only encourages this kind of overreaction. How long until Leon Jenkins’s mob calls upon Victoria’s Secret to pull “black hose” from the shelf?
I’m disappointed by the Los Angeles NAACP for their erroneous rush to judgment, but more disappointed by Hallmark for their utter spinelessness.
Update: How odd. I learned that Jasmyne Cannick, who I quoted above, ALSO hates the Hallmark card. In fact, she and the Respect Me Coalition (the group that once protested Interscope Records for their misogynistic lyrics) organized a press conference yesterday to announce their demand for an apology from Hallmark. A public apology?