I’ve quietly watched a company called Baby K’Tan work to dig itself out of a public relation social media nightmare because of this photo. There are two pretty glaring differences between the product on the left and the photo on the right. Can you catch it?
The first pretty obvious difference shows a black mother carrying a black child without the father in sight. The other product shows a white woman, her baby, and ostensibly the child’s father on the front package. The second and harder to stop difference is the price. While both products look the same except for the color, the package on the left with the black mother is $30 and the package on the right with the white mother is five dollars more.
This has set off a consumer firestorm that I can guarantee you the in-house public relations person is wishing he or she had a flask of whiskey on hand. The company has been scrambling all day and has issued a public statement regarding this clusterfuck:
It has come to our attention that there is a misleading photo circulating around the internet. Our company takes these matters very seriously and wishes to address them without any further delay.
The photo in question shows two Baby K’tan Baby Carriers on the shelf at an unidentified retailer. One Baby K’tan product features an African American woman holding her baby, and the other Baby K’tan product features a Caucasian couple with their baby. This portrayal has left many of our loyal patrons concerned that this is an unfair representation of African American families. Furthermore, the box bearing the African American woman was inaccurately priced lower than the box with the Caucasian couple. Let’s address these pressing matters head on:
1) We have a total of 5 different products, each featuring a different image on the front of the packaging. One box has the Caucasian couple on the front, and the other four boxes have individual mothers with their babies on the front (including African American and Caucasian women).
2) The Baby K’tan product featuring the African American woman is from our organic line which should actually be priced higher than the other product displayed.
3) The couple considered to be Caucasian is actually in fact an international couple, featuring a Caucasian mom and a Hispanic dad.
Our company was built and has prospered because of our focus on diversity and inclusion. We wholeheartedly reject any false, unfounded and baseless claims of discrimination as depicted in the above misrepresentation. We here at Baby K’tan fully support exposing any unfair and inaccurate stereotypes, racism and/or discrimination wherever it may exist.
We plan to continue including diverse parents, both individually and as couples, throughout our images. In fact, we are proud to have such wholesome and loving caregivers as the faces of our company.
Take a look at the sentence, “This portrayal has left many of our loyal patrons concerned that this is an unfair representation of African American families.”
Well, whether people are concerned of not, embarrassed or not, feeling unfairly represented or not, the TRUTH of the matter is that this is a pretty fair representation of African American families. Back in 2010, Yours Truly was featured in an Associated Press news story titled, “Blacks Struggle with 72% Out-of-Wedlock Rate,” because I am the founder and organizer of a social media campaign to force the discussion called No Wedding, No Womb. Much of the push back I got from my critics was not because anyone was arguing the numbers, but the debate fell upon whether or not 72% of black kids being born in fractured families was an actual problem. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. Anyone with eyes can see what damage the vast majority of black children born without a home-field advantage of two parents, and if you think marketers don’t notice that black women are largely raising their children alone, then you’d better think again. The photo depiction of the black mother is an expression of that, and based on the facts, this is a fair representation–just not one most black folks want to face or want others outside the black collective to notice. Trust and believe, they notice. That’s why Hallmark has a line of Father’s Day cards written for single black mothers in their Mahogany line.
The unfortunate flip side of these visuals sends a subliminal message that black mothers aren’t worthy of husbands and present fathers for their children, or that the fathers of black mothers are expendable and nonessential, unlike white mothers and white fathers. And while the OOW rate among whites is rising to about 30%, it’s still much, much less that 72% and upward of 80 and 90% in some communities. My stance with #NWNW is that I want every black woman to know that just like white mothers, she has the right feel worthy of marriage with a partner committed to providing and protecting the family. With generations of black female heads of households, it doesn’t even occur to many black girls and women that marriage is an actual option for them, and actually believe marriage is for white people.
But what I think scared the GAT-DL (Guardian of All Things Dark and Lovely) the most was not that I was a former single mother speaking out on issues in which I was intimately familiar, but that said spokesperson moved on to find a non-black spouse who shared the same value system regarding family and child rearing and had the nerve to write a book the teach other black women how to do the same. Trust me when I tell you there are forces in the black community who don’t want black women to look elsewhere to find men willing to be husbands and fathers, and would rather you stay alone as a struggling black mother. They might celebrate the 28% of black babies born in wedlock, but he MUST be black, and if you gotta fight, scheme, compromise, share, and wait and wait and wait and wait and pray and pray and pray and pray until your ovaries dry up and fall out, then so be it. The GAT-DL correctly detected that I had an agenda with No Wedding No Womb–to show black women they had wider dating and marriage options than they realized. These are truths people committed to black women’s oppression don’t want you to know. Some of my biggest critics have gone on to have out-of-wedlock babies and are living predictable lives of heartbreak and struggle. I take no pleasure in knowing this; black women have been viciously brainwashed into believing they are supposed to have hard lives with little to no support.
Bottom line, what you see being played out in the photo depiction is a fruits of our dirty laundry on display. Just because some of us want to ignore the problem doesn’t mean that the marketers on Madison Avenue aren’t looking at the stats. They are; and they know.