Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Empathy, Prejudice and Baby Carriers or Lessons from Baby K'tan on Appearing to Care

This blog post about the Baby K'tan carrier "Is Baby-Sling Photo a Slight to Black Women?" has had my attention all day. If you don't have time to read the post, basically there's a twitter backlash over these two boxes.  One depicting a seemingly White couple and the other a Black mother with no partner.  I didn't notice until I read the company's reply that that box was also priced lower as well.

I won't rehash the twitter rants because it's nothing new to the usual bitter tone of discussions around race and culture in our country these days.  You know the, 'yeah you're offended but who cares because of crime and unwed mothers BS'.

What struck me is the tone of the response from Baby K'tan.  For a company that sells baby carriers, which are usually associated with nice 'crunchy' folks, there sure was plenty of intolerance and lack of empathy I'd associate with big out of touch corporations.  
"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."
Damn those are strong words. Wholeheartedly reject???  Can you reject another person's feelings?  That's a little insensitive don't you think?  I thought that was basic communication 101. Wow, how about acknowledging that your marketing may have offended a segment of your customers then apologize and do better in the future?!! I just love how they are so final in their response as if the defendant is judge and jury.  Well I guess if deep down you believe in your superiority and another group doesn't have a right to an opinion, you can do that.  What racist person/company has ever policed themselves and said 'Oh that was racist let me reevaluate,' without pressure from an outside source?
Big lesson to Black consumers:  Yet another company that doesn't give a what about your feelings.  Take your money elsewhere.  End of story.
Stop going back and forth trying to prove a point on comment sections, just stop buying.  People that refuse to hear you don't want to understand.  Guess what, there are plenty of people that do care, why worry about the few who are so committed to their ignorance?  
Denial of racism is racism
The problem is not that this may have been a 'misrepresentation' as they put it, but they did not even bother to try and empathize.  Baby K'tan maybe you do think you're inclusive, diverse and supportive of exposing stereotypes (what does that even mean?) but that requires that when you're the one perpetuating a stereotype and said group points it out; you might need to take a step back before blasting out an ill-prepared defense.  A crisis PR company  probably could have helped.  I doubt a professional crafted that statement.  
And another thing! Someone with dark skin is not necessarily African-American, especially in a diverse area like south Florida.  They may be West Indian, Brazilian, French...any number of nationalities. Hispanic people can be White or Black also. So methinks you doth protest too much. Get some cultural sensitivity training.  Take a minute to climb off your liberal faux colorblind horse and try to understand WHY all of this started instead of being so quick to dismiss.
We can never fix this if we can't have free discussions.  I firmly believe one day the dream will be realized, but I don't feel we have to shut up to achieve it.

Side note:
I got one of the carriers free back when my little munchkin was in an ad, and I NEVER used it.  There are just too many choices to sweat one product that just pays lip service to being inclusive.

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