It's always astounding to see a product hit shelves that is so obviously daft, it's almost physically impossible to understand the mindset of the workers across multiple stages of production who never once thought to say, "Uh ... anyone else think this might be a bit problematic?"
American Greetings released a series of cards in honor of Father's Day, and the company's sole card
featuring a couple of color was embellished with an elegant foil imprint saying, "Baby Daddy."
Today, American Greetings is eating crow and has issued an apology for the problematic mess moonlighting as a celebratory greeting card.
While it is true that some people use the phrase "baby daddy" as a term of endearment, historically, the phrase is used to describe the father of a child, whom the mother did not marry, and with whom they are not currently involved. "Baby Daddy" is also deeply rooted
in African-American culture and until recently, was almost exclusively used by people of color.
"This particular card was created for, and addressed to, a loving husband — which the inside copy makes clear," American Greetings said in a statement
. "However, we now see that the front page, taken out of context, can communicate an unintentional meaning that we are strongly against perpetuating and is not consistent with our company purpose and values. We should do better in the future, and we will. We have notified our store merchandisers to remove the card from the shelves and apologize for any offense we’ve caused."
If the card is created and addressed to a loving husband, why did American Greetings choose to use a term that is reserved for fathers that are not still romantically linked with mothers?
The phrase "Baby Daddy" is "not sweet or nice," wrote Dallas-based Facebook user Takeisha Saunders
, one of the first customers to complain about the card. "It’s a term used to describe a deadbeat or absent parent. Yeah it’s sweet on the inside, but whomever created this card doesn’t know what it means."
Target has since announced that they will be removing the card from their shelves, but it appears that the damage has already been done. This gross oversight on the part of American Greetings continues to perpetuate the dangerous narrative
of absent black fathers.
American Greetings should be ashamed that it took backlash on social media for them to realize the error of their ways, and hopefully there will be some serious sensitivity training in the company's near future.
When it comes to representation, intention does not matter. Perception reigns supreme.