Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hallmark & Honkies


I am a fan of righteous indignation, and on occasion, even outrage. There comes a time when the citizens of this great nation must gather in solidarity to expose injustice, prevent genocide, or even boycott new David Haselhoff albums. So when a friend of mine told me about a recent NAACP press conference that was organized to express anger over blatant racism and prejudice, I applauded the sentiment. Indeed the time has come for humanity to shed its petty ethnic divisions in favor of a brave new future devoid of such rudimentary classifications. Unfortunately, it appears that in this particular instance the NAACP was simply bored.
The focal point of the group’s outrage is a talking graduation card sold by Hallmark that features the antics of a pink cat and green bunny rabbit better known as Hoops & YoYo. The pair has graced the covers of hundreds of cards (of both the e-mail and paper variety) and continues to be one of the company’s most lucrative creations. This particular graduation card carries a cosmic theme that compliments the tongue-in-cheek audio banter that states:
Hey world, we are officially putting you on notice
You better watch out because this graduate here is kicking rear and taking names
This graduate is going to run the world, run the universe, and run everything after that
Whatever that is…maybe black holes…you’re so ominous
Congratulations!! Good luck taking over the world!
And you planets watch your backs!

Hallmark explained that the card’s theme was to playfully flaunt that the cognitive abilities of the card’s recipient were so impressive that even mysteries as complex and enigmatic as a black hole would be no match for the graduate’s newly-acquired intellectual prowess. The Los Angeles NAACP, however, feels that the card’s audio actually says:
“Black whores, you’re so ominous…… watch your backs!”
They claim that the card is racist, offensive, and seeks to threaten African-America women. The group maintains that the word “whores” is clearly audible during the card’s playback and that the entire planetary theme is a thinly-veiled racist jab.  
Although Hallmark insists that the card does not mention the word “whores” and is simply a cosmic themed encouragement card, they have voluntarily removed the card from store shelves despite the fact that it was introduced over three years ago.
Interestingly enough, the outrage over black holes and racism dates back to 2008 and when a Dallas County Commissioner named John Wiley Price accused fellow commissioner Kenneth Mayfield of racism when he referred to the town’s central collections agency as a “Black Hole.” Although Mayfield claims he was simply referring to the agencies lack of transparency, Price demanded an apology as he felt that Mayfield’s use of the term was malicious and motivated by prejudice. Price later lamented that blatant racism could also be seen in the cake and pastry market since angel food cake was always white and devil’s food cake was always black. Duncan Hines has yet to comment….
   While I fully support the eradication of racism in all of its forms, I am not convinced that Hoops & Yoyo are secretly leading a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Generally speaking, corporations are motivated by the promise of revenue, and when you are the world’s largest greeting card company and have a dedicated line of cards specifically marketed to the African-American community; it is not in your best interest to sell a graduation card that references “black whores.”
If there should be outrage over anything, it is that Hallmark’s talking cards now cost almost $6.00. I don’t know about you, but if I shell out six dollars for a graduation card it better come with a career. Let’s be honest, a graduation card is simply a temporary disposable wallet in which to store checks or paper currency. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if the cover of my graduation card had the words “Honkey Lips” outlined in glitter and called me a “Trifling Cracker” when I opened it.


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