Breach of Duty: Hallmark Capitulates to the Race Card

Every time an individual or a corporation meekly submits to the demands of  bullies, it harms the rest of society by giving that bully more power and credibility. It doesn’t matter if the bullies are jihad-minded Islamic extremists threatening the creators of “South Park,” an extortion-minded Congresswoman threatening NBC of dire consequences if it doesn’t start meeting her racial quotas, or a schoolyard bully intent on stealing lunch money. Give a bullies what they want, and they will continue to abuse their power until someone else does his or her ethical duty, which is to confront bullying and stop it. I call this “The Duty to Confront,” and it is a responsibility of citizenship and being a member of society. Corporations will hold symposiums and issue bold words about their commitment to good citizenship and corporate responsibility, but when it comes to a citizen’s duty to oppose bullies, they are worse than the meekest. weakest wimp in the school yard. Exhibit A:  the disgraceful example of Hallmark, which has capitulated to the N.A.A.C.P.’s most ridiculous and embarrassing accusation of racism yet, which is quite an accomplishment.

For three years, Hallmark has sold a graduation card featuring the cartoon characters “Hoops” ( a pink cat) and “Yo-Yo” ( a green bunny). It has an outer space theme. On the front of the card, Hoops and Yo-Yo say,  “Hey world, we are officially putting you on notice!”  But the world isn’t enough for this graduate—oh, no! “Watch out, Saturn, this grad is gonna run rings around you!” it continues. When the recipient opens the card, Hoops and Yo-Yo’s printed message expands the new grad’s realm to the “whole universe!”, as an audio chip features the two characters in their helium-voices excitedly speculating on all the wonderful things the new graduate will do:

“You better watch out `cause this graduate here’s kicking rear and takin’ names (laughter). This graduate’s gonna run the world, run the universe, and run everything after that, whatever that is. And you black holes – you’re so ominous (laughter). Congratulations! And you planets – watch your back! Congratulations!”

Some members of the Los Angeles Chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., however, listened to the card and concluded that Hoops and Yo-Yo were really saying “you black whores (or “ho’s”) are so ominous, despite the fact that 1) they obviously aren’t [you can listen to the card here, or here], 2) it would make no sense at all in the context of the outer space card’s theme, and 3) it would be certifiably insane for Hallmark to put such a sentiment in a graduation card. Nevertheless, the organization protested to Hallmark.

“It’s passive intent aggressively stated in a way that makes African-Americans feel insulted,” fumed Olivia Verrett, president of the Carson-Torrance branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“The card is saying that I am below class, and feel as though I can run the universe, but I’m not going to run the universe because I have to watch my back.”


No, Ms. Varrett isn’t going to run the universe because she is either paranoid, ignorant, devoid of principles or all three. She might also be a little deaf. Shockingly, Hallmark dignified this nonsense with a response swearing that Hoops and Yo-Yo were not racially insensitive, and then pulled the card anyway, because they certainly wouldn’t want to get on the bad side of African Americans who never heard of black holes. Then again, I guess there’s a chance that all these years, Stephen Hawking has been fantasizing about black ho’s.

This cowardly surrender was an easy business decision for Hallmark; the card was old anyway, and due to be retired. It had a duty not to legitimize and reward this kind of naked power play, however. It had a duty to loudly and publicly condemn the irresponsible conduct of the N.A.A.C.P., the bigoted and offensive message it sends (“White America hides racist messages and sentiments everywhere!”), the cripplingly narrow perspective it represents, and the intellectual and educational void it demonstrates. Instead it rewarded all of these by doing what the race-bullies wanted, and thus emboldening them for their next attack. To make it worse, many African-Americans, and probably others who are eager to see “proof” of American bigotry, will never learn the facts of this fiasco, and assume that Hallmark was indeed denigrating black women.

Hallmark has already flunked its test of character. Now the national N.A.A.C.P. has a duty to be responsible and to tell its L.A. chapter to stop embarrassing the organization and exacerbating racial distrust. If it has any integrity, the N.A.A.C.P. will apologize to Hallmark.

13 thoughts on “Breach of Duty: Hallmark Capitulates to the Race Card

  1. Jack,
    The card was also insensitive to the plight of black holes who, through no fault of their own, were called out for ridicule by a greeting card. But I guess no one cares about their feelings ..


  2. Pingback: Breach of Duty: Hallmark Capitulates to the Race Card | Γονείς σε Δράση

  3. I think you’ve overlooked a critical connection between this weekend’s Ethics Dunces and the Hallmark situation you rightly bewail. You may not be aware of the latest scientific findings (I am not making this up):

    Black Holes Are “Green,” X-Ray Study Says

    John Roach
    for National Geographic News
    April 24, 2006

    Supermassive black holes are actually “green,” scientists announced today as they described a new study on the energy efficiency of black holes.

    So the crisis is even more acute than you suspected. Either the voters of South Carolina (seeing the “Greene” reference) thought they were voting for “black ho’s”, or the NAACP was really objecting to Hallmark’s disguised political bias towards a “greene” in a crucial regional election.

    Lucky for you I’m such an assiduous reader of National Geographic.

  4. That NAACP woman was just looking for some excuse- however illogical- to, 1) make a media splash for herself, 2) to get the credit for making a major corporation crawl and, 3) test the waters for future extortion ventures… which is what the NAACP is all about these days anyway. Why should Al and Jesse have all the fun… and the money? This is what the Civil Rights Movement has degenerated to ever since the death of Dr. King. When Al Capone did it, it was called a protection racket.

  5. Possibly so… but I doubt it. The term “black hole” is too well known in the popular lexicon. Thanks for reminding me about that pathetic “niggardly” pseudo-scandal. It follows along the same lines as this. Anything these cheap race politicians can do to keep the pot simmering- and people divided- that they will pursue.

    • I remember talking to a Columbia Law School grad and accomplished lawyer who couldn’t place the Civil War within 50 years of the right date. Never underestimate the failures of the American school system. If she wasn’t a Deep Space Nine fan and went to high school before black holes were known, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had never heard of them.

  6. About the “niggardly” scandal, though–I read that Julian Bond was the head of the NAACP at the time, deplored the resignation of the person who uttered the word, and suggested dictionaries be ordered for all staff who needed them. Just a footnote.

Leave a Reply to Tom Fuller Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.