Target has become ensnared in the “Annie” white or black controversy. In Target’s recent ad campaign promoting a new children’s line of clothing based on the reprised film, they show a very smiley, and very white brunette girl modeling a $30 red dress on signage that reads: “Annie – in theaters December 19.” The trouble for Target? Annie is played by young actress Quvenzhané Wallis, who is black.
Writes CNN on Dec. 30: “Thousands of people have signed a Change.org petition asking Target to replace its in-store ads for ‘Annie’ apparel. The Change.org petitioners are asking Target to remove the ads and apologize to Wallis.”
Consumers are upset that Target is predominately using young white girls as models of the new clothing line inspired by the movie / theater remake. In response to the mounting criticisms, Target representative Jessica Carlson said that they had “conversations with [Quvenzhane Wallis’] team about being in the campaign, but ultimately it did not come to fruition.”
The petition, written up by motivational speaker L’Sean Rinique Shelton, calls on the big box retailer to remove their “disrespectful” in-store display ads and personally issue an apology in writing to the black actress.
In the current stench of racism and division amongst Americans, why would Target singlehandedly disrespect Quvenzhané Wallis and add more pain to injury as it relates to race relations? Being African American is not ugly, it is not bad and we are sellable! Despite most beliefs, African Americans are capable of portraying more than drug dealers, pimps, and other bastardized portrayals of our culture. Quvenzhané Wallis earned that role and we demand your respect. – Change.org petition
The petition concedes that Target has chosen to use “one token black girl in random Annie gear.”
According to CNN, prior to the movie being released earlier this month, “Target partnered with Renée Ehrlich Kalfus, the costume designer for the new ‘Annie’ movie,” who designed a line of clothes that went on sale in November.
Target spokesman Joshua Thomas said their “Annie” ads, like all Target ads, feature girls of “various ethnic backgrounds,” and the in-store posters and online ads are meant to draw attention to the clothes, not one actor or race over another. “Girls from a variety of backgrounds were featured within the campaign, reflecting that anyone can embody the spirit and character of Annie,” Thomas said.
When an African American actress was chosen to play the white, red-haired, freckled Annie, some got unduly rankled. Now Target is getting blown away by individuals claiming the retailer is racist. Do turgid, overblown discussions like this ever reach an end point? What are your thoughts on Target’s Annie ads?