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Barnes and Noble Under Fire for Tone Deaf Black History Month Campaign

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  • Tip Bones

Social responsibility is something that once upon a time was not a concern for big companies. Large companies and corporations were (and don’t be fooled, still are) all about making money, and that was the end of it. There was less concern back in the day over the impact big companies had on the environment or the ways they effected the masses beyond getting them to buy their products.

Nowadays, there are more policies and regulations in place and more people demanding for companies to be held accountable for their social impact. And obviously with more attempts to be socially conscious and  accountable, companies are even more at risk than ever at making a misstep and receiving intense backlash for making decisions in the name of social consciousness that come off socially tone deaf and insensitive.

Recently, Barnes and Noble came under fire in this regard due to a new campaign they launched in honor of Black History Month. The book campaign featured well-known classics with redesigned covers featuring iconic characters as people of color. Although it is crucial that big companies acknowledge and discuss Black History Month, this decision should NOT have made it out of the idea pipeline. Changing the image on the cover of the book cannot change the contexts or descriptions within the pages. The story cannot change, so passing off characters as people of color when they aren’t is insensitive and not “inclusive” like B&N thought they were being. People also fairly expressed that it appeared as though B&N was doing this to celebrate Black History Month in lieu of highlighting Black authors and stories, which is by and far more important with the publishing industry not being as diverse as it should be in 2020.

What can be appreciated despite this egregious lack of judgement, is B&N listened to the backlash and acted quickly and effectively to pull it from the internet and issued an apology for the poorly thought out campaign.

Image from Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash.