A national homewares chain removed all “black-o-lanterns” from its shelves after complaints to a New York law firm about the fake painted pumpkins sparked a TV news investigation.
The Nyack, New York law firm of Feerick, Nugent and MacCartney decorated its porch with a few regular pumpkins and two painted black with white faces for the Halloween season, and the black pumpkins apparently offended someone.
News 12 offered no details about who complained, when, or where the alleged complaints were directed, but Mary Marzolla, a partner at the firm, said the racist pumpkins are now gone and apologized for inadvertently offending the anonymous complainant.
“We understand that someone complained about them and so once we got word of that we immediately took them down,” she said. “We represent people of all colors and faiths, and we would ever do anything to exclude anyone from any community.”
Alak Shah, a minority associate at the law firm, said he wasn’t offended, but backed the decision to remove the decorations nonetheless.
“It’s just nothing I took offense to personally, but since it did offend someone we took proactive steps to take it down,” he said.
News 12 also contacted the local NAACP to weigh in on the controversy, and Director Wilbur Aldridge confirmed that the black-o-lanterns were indeed racist.
Aldridge said the face painted on the fake gourds “shows an extreme lack of sensitivity” and he chided the law firm and Bed, Bath & Beyond, the store where they were purchased, for propagating racism.
“By now I would believe everyone (would) know that anything in Black face is offensive,” Aldridge wrote in a prepared statement. “Equally as offensive is that a retail store would have such an item in (their) inventory for general purchase.”
Now the black-o-lanterns are gone from Bed, Bath & Beyond, as well.
“This is a sensitive area and, though unintentional, we apologize for any offense caused,” company spokeswoman Jessica Joyce said in a prepared statement. “We have immediately removed the item from sale.”
Some local residents clearly think the whole “controversy” is ridiculous.
“They are pumpkins, black pumpkins, idiots!” one black woman told News 12. “That’s all there is.”
Others online were equally offended by the knee-jerk reaction to an anonymous complaint.
“Happy now, News 12? Muslims are held captive in camps in China, the world is teeming with conflicts, our system of government is under siege, and your priority is black pumpkins?” commenter Sad Democrat posted. “It takes no skill to incite the outrage community.”
“You people are out of your minds,” Matthew O’Neil added. “Journalism is long dead.”
“Imagine being so inept of a colored people’s rights organization that the naacp literally declared pumpkins racist,” Josh Hernandez posted. “What kind of clown world is this?”