01 Jun 2010 Crying Wolf Over a “Racist” Cat and Rabbit, by Bob Parks
Crying Wolf Over a “Racist” Cat and Rabbit
by Bob Parks (bio)
It is said that you can’t debate the insane. That must have been Hallmark’s strategy.
After three years on the market, the greeting card giant Hallmark quickly pulled a graduation card after half-baked claims were made by the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP that the card is racist.
Starring the Hallmark-designed characters Hoops and Yoyo, the controversial card contains a small speaker from which the cartoon cat and rabbit exclaim: “This graduate is going to run the world, run the universe and run everything after that. Yeah, whatever that is. And you black holes? You’re so ominous.” A few seconds later, they add: “And you planets? Watch your back.”
Apart from the audio, the card reads: “You’re graduating? Well then, it’s time to let the world know what’s coming. But not only the world. NOOOO! We’re talking the entire Solar System.” It additionally boasts: “Watch out, Saturn, this grad is going to run rings around you.”
Despite all the astronomical references, the NAACP members insist Hoops and Yoyo are advocating violence against “black whores,” not “black holes.” That’s what they claim the card says.
The logic of Leon Jenkins, the president of the NAACP’s Los Angeles chapter, certainly seems airtight. In a video posted on YouTube by community activist Jasmyne Cannick, Jenkins points out that something that is “ominous” is evil. Something that is evil must have a “body” or “conscious thought.” That fits a black woman — not a collapsed star, he says. And then, he adds, there’s the card’s “watch your back” threat.
Pay no mind that the “watch your back” taunt is made toward planets and not to whatever one might think that one particular word is. But Jenkins has that covered. As he explains in the Cannick-posted video, “if reasonable people can listen to this and interpret it the way I did, you need to pull it.”
Whether or not reasonable people can debate the legitimacy of cartoon animals personifying celestial objects is debatable all by itself. Whether this is a sinister conspiracy to incite children’s anger against a specific race and gender through a throwaway greeting card is yet another.
Both are silly, and Jenkins and his pals don’t have an intellectual leg to stand on.
It might have also been to the group’s benefit if everyone was on the same page. In a local news segment, NAACP member Minnie Hartley claimed the card says “black whores” and insisted “the r is in there.” Cannick transcribes it on her video as “black hos.” Jenkins seems to hear both, as he alternates in interviews.
Has there been an unexplained, up to now, surge in assaults on African-American prostitutes by recent grade-school graduates over the past three years? That might lend some credibility to wild-eyed claims of corporate conspiracy.
But why should logic prevail? Hallmark couldn’t rush to pull the card fast enough. Before the activists even had their press conference, Hallmark called to announce the card was being pulled.
Drug stores chains such as CVS and Walgreens also called Leon Jenkins to apologize for having it in stock. Jenkins says he is going to have a sit-down with CVS to “look at how they can do some… things for the black community.”
Do some things? It sounds like Jenkins might have tipped his hand.
Two things come to mind as a motivation for this greeting card controversy: a cry for attention or set-up for a shakedown.
For every inspired modern NAACP crusade such as their funeral for the “n-word,” there are many more complaints about too few black actors on television, Confederate flags or this greeting card. There’s a failure to realize that flailing for relevance demeans the NAACP’s successful and storied history.
If this is the more sinister of the two — that racism is being cried to solicit money or influence — it’s a much more serious and possibly criminal situation.
What’s worse, a racist rabbit or a corrupt civil rights group?