Looks like Bed, Bath & Beyond have officially entered the realm of the “Beyond”; well, at least beyond belief from a reactionary standpoint.

The contents of this story may cause a chuckle (or dare I say “cackle” in light of the Halloween spirit), but it’s dead-serious to some folks. This story all starts in the small village of Nyack, New York.

Bed Bath & Beyond has recently pulled from their online stores a black jack-o’-lantern, due to recent complaints alleging that the faux pumpkins are somehow another form of blackface. The home goods store stopped selling the product following the outrage over a Halloween display outside of a law firm that were using the pumpkins in Nyack, New York.

The local law firm in question, Feerick Nugent MacCartney, had a small display outside of their firm in-tune with the season where they’d placed two of the all-black pumpkins adorned with white eyes, nose and mouth on a bale of hay.  But they had taken them down merely two days after setting up the display after community members complained, according to reports.

The regional director at the NAACP, Wilbur Aldridge, made a recent statement that the pumpkin design: “shows an extreme lack of sensitivity.”

Aldridge continued by stating:

“By now I would believe everyone [would] know that anything in Black face is offensive… Equally as offensive is that a retail store would have such an item in [their] inventory for general purchase.”

The partners at the law firm where the controversy all began stated that they did not mean to offend anyone by displaying the jack-o’-lanterns on the front porch of the law office. Mary Marzolla, one of the partners from the firm, spoke to local news crews and stated:

“We understand that someone complained about them and so once we got word of that we immediately took them down.”

Marzolla then added:

“We represent people of all colors and faiths, and we would never do anything to exclude anyone from any community.” Her associate at the law firm, Alak Shah, also carried similar sentiments regarding the disdain for their display: “It’s just nothing I take offense to personally, but since it did offend someone we took proactive steps to take it down.”

When the local News 12 reached out to Bed Bath & Beyond regarding the controversial pumpkins, a spokeswoman for the company apologized and noted:

“We have immediately removed the item from sale. This is a sensitive area and, though unintentional, we apologize for any offense caused.”

This is not the first-time blackface has stirred up controversy this year. While this one instance was almost laughable with regard to the odd outrage of a black pumpkin with white-eyes, community members from Baton Rouge, Louisiana were outraged this year in February.  

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That was when they realized, via a leaked photo from a police yearbook, that an undercover narcotics sting from back in 1993 enlisted two officers that posed as African Americans in order to conceal their identity in the pursuit of getting harmful drugs off the street.

Now 26 years after the sting occurred, the Baton Rouge Police Department is apologizing for the tactics after a police yearbook photo of the two disguised officers made their way online.

Police Chief Murphy Paul confirmed that the photo of the officers that cropped up online were indeed used in what was described as a “department-approved operation”. The Police Chief delved deeper into his opinions on the matter, stating:

“Blackface photographs are inappropriate and offensive. They were inappropriate then and are inappropriate today. The Baton Rouge Police Department would like to apologize to our citizens and to anyone who may have been offended by the photographs.”

Now while I can understand people getting generally uneasy or offended by depictions of black face that are meant to demean an entire race in their execution, what the outrage community was not paying more attention to was the context of why the officers were disguised as such.

Back in the early 90’s, the crack epidemic was disproportionately present within the African American community in the forms of consumers-turned-addicts and also in the form of street level distribution. It’s clear that this, then department-approved, tactic was a means to not only conceal the officer’s identities, but also to frankly lend more credibility in the execution of the sting itself and lead to a potential success of the operation.

Considering a city that has an African American population of 54%, and that 88% of all convictions related to crack cocaine in the U.S. at the time were African American, two Caucasians selling crack in Baton Rouge would likely arouse suspicion from those engaged in nefarious activities.  

While people may be offended from a successful operation 26 years ago, whomever made the call at the time knew what they were tackling and didn’t care about the political correctness associated with it. When it comes to protecting an officer’s life, political correctness can go right out the window.

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