At what point does racial sensitivity become another form of racism?
I recently sent an email blast to our subscribers at Baker Book House to let them know about the upcoming Salvation Army Concert with Ralston Bowles and Bennett. The following image was featured at the top of the email:
One of the bookstore’s employees saw the image and contacted our management, concerned that portrays some racist imagery. And I can see that, to a point. I mean, the white hand gives and the dark hand takes. It’s a bit stereotypical.
But before we flip out over the fact that The Salvation Army is racist, you have to know that I got three different images from the charity that I could have used. I think I chose this one because I was cold at the time and gloves sounded nice.
This is one of the other images that they sent:
In order to avoid the appearance of racism, I decided to use this image in creating the event notification for the store’s Facebook page. With a dark hand giving and a white child’s hand taking, it can’t be racist, can it?
I even printed out a new version of the flyer that we’re handing out in the store to use this image instead of the first one. But as I was taking the flyer to the originals file from which copies are made, I thought, “Did I just create something that is separate but equal?” And the fix seemed just as racist as the original.
And then there is the third image that was sent:
So where does it end? If I worry about how my message will be received by specific racial communities, does that mean that I’m afraid of the potential backlash? And isn’t that fear really based on racism?
On the flip side, if I don’t consider the message, am I being racially ignorant? That’s racist too. When will it be good enough to know that I didn’t have an agenda in creating an email that featured the top picture?
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them.