About this Blog

The title of this blog, "I'm About to do My Thing," was inspired by Jill Scott's introduction to her poem "The Thickness" from her live album Experience: Jill Scott 826+. In this intro, she warns that the content to follow is "real" and proceeds to deliver a beautiful message about self-esteem in young black girls, what can influence and damage that self-esteem, and the entire village's responsibility--"it takes a village"--to elevate its children.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kroger, Please Do Better: My Letter to the Grocer

I've been reflecting on the fact that just about any holiday or (not so) special event--I still don't understand why we observe a holiday for a man who was trying to get to India and ended up in the Bahamas--can indeed be turned into an opportunity to make money. It's just the world we live in: MLK Day sales, President's Day sales, Columbus Day sales, New Year's greeting cards, etc.

A cover of the mailer alongside coupons
I was put off to learn that my grocery store of choice, Kroger, has joined the retailer masses in a pretty insulting way: "celebrating" Black History Month by advertising sales on chicken and ribs, among other things. This "celebration" prompted me to write a letter to the chain, presented in its entirety below:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a faithful Kroger customer, and I have always enjoyed the environment, savings, and service that I receive at my local Kroger. However, I was disconcerted to learn that the Black History Month issue of your MyMagazine™* relied on stereotypes and caricatures of blacks in order to attract consumers. I hope that you will reconsider this line of advertising as ill-advised and ill-received in the future.

To be more specific, you include coupons for chicken, ribs, Aunt Jemima® pancakes, hot sauce, and hair relaxer in this pamphlet—items which have historically negative associations with black Americans. There is nothing wrong with these items in and of themselves, of course. I know that plenty of black people use all of these things. What I take issue with, though, is the presumption that these stereotypically-conceived coupons are somehow related to a celebration of black history and achievement.

Please do not get me wrong: I think it’s commendable that you have acknowledged in this pamphlet the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by highlighting the unveiling of his memorial in Washington, D.C. I also like your interview with the very talented and inspirational Patti LaBelle regarding the memorial, important health issues, and her cooking experiences as a diabetic (along with a couple of her tasty-looking recipes!).

Still, if your goal is truly to “[reflect] on the African-American story and [honor] the men and women who helped to write it,” then I hope that you can appreciate the offensive nature of the images you have conjured up. Such images represent a very negative part of that story and certainly should not be directly or indirectly propagated in attempts to make profits. Please know that you can attract black clientele, like my family and me, without depending on such unenlightened associations with “blackness.” 


Moka B.
A Kroger shopper and proud black American

It would be awesome if the company took heed, but we'll just have to see what happens. In any case, I'll let you know.

*MyMagazine is the mailer of exclusive savings sent to Kroger's "best customers."

1 comment:

  1. Amazing that we are still so steeped and reliant on stereotypes. Disappointing. Great letter, Mo. I hope you get a response - and if you do, please share with us! :)