Bed, Bath & Beyond found itself in hot water after blackface complaints arose against its since-removed black jack-o-lantern product.
Complaints were lodged by Wilbur Aldridge, the regional director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in New York, after he saw two black pumpkins set up outside a local law firm, News 12 reports.
The popular housewares store has since taken the black pumpkins off its website.
“This is a sensitive area and, though unintentional, we apologize for any offence caused. We immediately removed the item from sale,” the company said in a statement shared with media.
Global News reached out to Bed, Bath & Beyond for comment but did not hear back by time of publication.
Aldridge told local broadcast station News 12 the retailer should have known the item was offensive.
“By now I would believe everyone [would] know that anything in blackface is offensive,” he said. “Equally as offensive is that a retail store would have such an item in [their] inventory for general purchase.
“It wasn’t about the pumpkin itself, but what was done to the pumpkin.
“When you proceed to put the white eyes and the white mouth, now you have crossed the line because it then goes into having blackface.”
The two black pumpkins were part of a Halloween display in front of the Feerick, Nugent, MacCartney Law Offices in the village of Nyack, N.Y.
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The firm removed the pumpkins less than 48 hours after putting them out.
“We understand that someone complained about them and so once we got word of that we immediately took them down,” Mary Marzolla, a partner at the law firm, told News 12.
“We represent people of all colours and faiths, and we would never do anything to exclude anyone from any community.”
Marzolla’s colleague, Alak Shah, said they took immediate action once they heard of the complaints.
“It’s just nothing I take offence to personally, but since it did offend someone we took proactive steps to take it down,” he said.
Aldridge voiced to the station appreciation for how quickly the firm responded to his complaint.
“This is not a huge incident, however if you don’t respond, small things have a way of becoming large things,” he said. “So you need to respond and make it where people are aware of what they are doing.”
While the pumpkins in question have ceased being sold, the store still sells black pumpkins on their website, just not with faces.
The Westchester-based news station notes that Bed, Bath & Beyond didn’t share if they’d received additional complaints.
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