We recently discussed the situation with Costco and its "interesting" decision to put "Lil Monkey" on the forehead of a black baby doll. Of course, most people of color understand that using the word monkey to describe a black baby is one of the most dangerous things a company can do.
I've gotten some interesting e-mails from readers on the topic, as well as comments from those who saw our discussion of the issue on CNN.
One of the members of Your Black World Coalition wrote to the company to express discontent, and this is the reply he received:
Thank you for your e-mail to Costco Wholesale.
We appreciate your comments regarding the Cuddle Baby Doll. After stocking the item, which was available either with a Caucasian or an African American doll, we learned from our members that some of them found the item offensive. There was certainly never any intention of offending anyone. On the contrary, we were happy that members were given the option of buying a doll showing different nationalities, which too often is not available. However, once we learned that it was offensive to some members, we decided to discontinue the item. We apologize to anyone who may have taken offense by our carrying the item.
Costco Wholesale Corporation
I have no comment on the Costco response. I just wanted Black Voices readers to see what the company had to say. The only question left to be asked is whether Costco has actually chosen to incorporate meaningful diversity in its management structure, or if it simply decided to stop selling dolls to black people? Hopefully, the conclusion is not the latter, but given the conservative nature of corporate America, nothing would surprise me. Yes, for Costco, this was a true "teachable moment." Measured by the decline in the company's stock price, this lesson cost about half a billion in tuition.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a finance professor at Syracuse University and author of 'What if George Bush Were a Black Man?' To have Dr. Boyce's commentary delivered directly to your e-mail, please click here.