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Valentine's cards include black SpongeBob; printing error blamed
Kansas City Star ^ | Feb. 12, 2004 | JIM SCHAEFER

Posted on 02/13/2004 10:40:00 AM PST by Larry Lucido

Valentine's cards include black SpongeBob; printing error blamed




Knight Ridder Newspapers

(KRT) - American Greetings Corp. calls it a regrettable printing error.

Somehow, boxes of SpongeBob SquarePants Valentine's Day cards are popping up in Detroit Wal-Mart stores - but the popular cartoon character found inside isn't his traditional yellow color.

He's black. And with his trademark big teeth and wide eyes, this SpongeBob seems similar to offensive images of African-Americans portrayed in minstrel shows decades ago.

American Greetings officials said Thursday they were surprised and puzzled when the Detroit Free Press made them aware of a complaint about the product.

"We absolutely fell out of our chairs when we saw it," said Carol Miller, director of business development for the Cleveland-based company. "We're obviously going to be talking to Wal-Mart as well as Nickelodeon ... to offer our sincere apologies for this product making it to market."

Miller said the cards, which were printed and packaged in China, are mistakes, but she and other officials said they were trying to determine how that happened.

David Blinderman, director of global product development for the company, said the printing facility is one of the company's most reliable.

"Culturally, the guys on press in China wouldn't have the faintest idea of who a SpongeBob was or who a black SpongeBob was," Blinderman said.

Jemeka Garcia of Flint Township, Mich., was skeptical of a mistake, in part because the cards appear to be well made. Garcia and her husband, Scott, complained to the Detroit Free Press earlier this week after their 6-year-old daughter discovered the different SpongeBob. The family purchased the cards at a Wal-Mart near their home so the girl could hand them out to her first-grade classmates.

"I want to know why the person did it," Jemeka Garcia said Thursday. "That's kind of a horrible prank. And what if some kid gets it" as a valentine?

A Wal-Mart official said customers who want refunds can have them, but there were no plans to take the boxes off shelves. "It was a very popular item and there aren't very many left out there," said corporate spokeswoman Danette Thompson. She said the company had received no other complaints.

The cards - branded as "Nickelodeon 34 Foil Valentines" and selling for $2.74 - are exclusive to Wal-Mart. Officials said they were widely distributed across the country, but they would not say how many had been produced. The Free Press checked a Wal-Mart in Roseville, Mich., and found the cards. There are 68 Wal-Mart stores in the state.

SpongeBob stars on the Nickelodeon cable channel. The show chronicles the cluelessly optimistic meanderings of a bright-eyed sponge, who lives in a pineapple in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom.

Jemeka Garcia said she's already gone out and replaced the offensive SpongeBobs for her daughter.

"I went and bought her some Scooby-Doos."

---

© 2004, Detroit Free Press.

Visit the Freep, the World Wide Web site of the Detroit Free Press, at http://www.freep.com.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: cartoons; diversity; oops; spongebob
It's about time the residents of Bikini Bottom got some diversity!
1 posted on 02/13/2004 10:40:00 AM PST by Larry Lucido
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To: Larry Lucido
From the Detroit Free Press story


2 posted on 02/13/2004 10:42:24 AM PST by Larry Lucido
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To: Larry Lucido
Ouch!!
3 posted on 02/13/2004 10:45:23 AM PST by mass55th
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To: Larry Lucido
HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I think it's kinda funny.
4 posted on 02/13/2004 10:46:32 AM PST by MudPuppy (don't lose your sense of humor.........)
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To: Larry Lucido
I thought SpongeBob was ASIAN!
5 posted on 02/13/2004 10:47:06 AM PST by kaktuskid
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To: Hillary's Lovely Legs; MotleyGirl70
Some real news for a change.
6 posted on 02/13/2004 10:47:18 AM PST by Larry Lucido
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To: Howlin; Ed_NYC; MonroeDNA; widgysoft; Springman; Timesink; dubyaismypresident; Grani; coug97; ...
Just damn.

If you want on the list, FReepmail me. This IS a high-volume PING list...

7 posted on 02/13/2004 10:47:18 AM PST by mhking
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To: Larry Lucido
"I want to know why the person did it," Jemeka Garcia said Thursday. "That's kind of a horrible prank. And what if some kid gets it" as a valentine?

I don't know. The world will end, maybe?

8 posted on 02/13/2004 10:48:01 AM PST by far sider
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To: Larry Lucido
He's black. And with his trademark big teeth and wide eyes, this SpongeBob seems similar to offensive images of African-Americans portrayed in minstrel shows decades ago.

Maybe this is a special Minstrel SpongeBob in honor of Black History Month.

9 posted on 02/13/2004 10:48:07 AM PST by Kenton ("Life is tough, and it's really tough when you're stupid" - Damon Runyon)
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To: Larry Lucido
I'll bet Plankton was behind this.
10 posted on 02/13/2004 10:49:11 AM PST by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: Larry Lucido
Celebrate Diversity...
11 posted on 02/13/2004 10:49:51 AM PST by TSgt (I am proudly featured on U.S. Rep Rob Portman's homepage: http://www.house.gov/portman/)
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To: Larry Lucido
Oh my.
12 posted on 02/13/2004 10:50:23 AM PST by DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet ("Lashing out" at Democrats since 1990.)
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To: Kenton
It's Spongebob's friend. Spongejones Groovypants.
13 posted on 02/13/2004 10:50:31 AM PST by far sider
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To: Larry Lucido
but...Bob's eyes are blue

Not many black Americans have blue eyes.

14 posted on 02/13/2004 10:51:33 AM PST by xrp
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To: Larry Lucido

15 posted on 02/13/2004 10:52:00 AM PST by RckyRaCoCo
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To: Eaker; TheMom
Spongie ping.
16 posted on 02/13/2004 10:53:21 AM PST by humblegunner
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Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

To: far sider
"I don't know. The world will end, maybe?"

LOL! Or the kid will slash his wrists. These people are pathetic aren't they?

18 posted on 02/13/2004 10:54:12 AM PST by mass55th
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To: RckyRaCoCo
LOL!
19 posted on 02/13/2004 10:56:12 AM PST by SquirrelKing (A vote for John Kerry is a vote for Jane Fonda.)
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To: Larry Lucido
Oh, oh another lawsuit in the pipelines against Wal-mart.

You watch.
20 posted on 02/13/2004 10:56:44 AM PST by The South Texan (The Democrat Party and the leftist (ABCCBSNBCCNN NYLATIMES)media are a criminal enterprise!)
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To: Larry Lucido
Looking good!!! LOLOL. That picture is too funny.
21 posted on 02/13/2004 10:58:19 AM PST by Cboldt
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To: Larry Lucido
Looks like Barbie's got a new main squeeze...


22 posted on 02/13/2004 11:02:37 AM PST by socal_parrot (Hug a Mod today!)
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To: Larry Lucido; mhking
How about this: A Black Barbie with an Asian (Yellow Sponge Bob with only two teeth on her T-shirt. Also, she has a yellow pet Sponge Bob minature. Now Asians who feel hurt by this evil act, can complain and call the ACLU and the Nation Lawyers Union.

Seriously, this is an official Barbie and Sponge Bob doll that is for sale.

23 posted on 02/13/2004 11:03:03 AM PST by Grampa Dave (John F' Kerry may be closer to being a John F' Kennedy than we thought.)
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To: Larry Lucido
Jemeka Garcia of Flint Township, Mich., was skeptical of a mistake, in part because the cards appear to be well made

____

LMAO--JAMEKA is skeptical that is was just a mistake. That's right Jameka, any little mistake is automatically racism. PATHETIC! I wonder when she'll sue for "damages"?
24 posted on 02/13/2004 11:03:35 AM PST by cupcakes
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To: Larry Lucido
Sponge Bro'???
25 posted on 02/13/2004 11:04:16 AM PST by wireman
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To: Larry Lucido
"I want to know why the person did it," Jemeka Garcia said Thursday. "That's kind of a horrible prank. And what if some kid gets it" as a valentine?"

I can smell the lawsuit from here. LOL, this individual needs to lighten up.

26 posted on 02/13/2004 11:07:50 AM PST by dougherty (I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. -Michelangelo)
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To: Solitary Traveler
I haven't felt right about this stuff since "The Wiz"! I'll give you "black Barbie", but black Dorthy is just wrong on so many levels.
27 posted on 02/13/2004 11:08:52 AM PST by 50sDad (OK, I give in. Visit my website! http://my.oh.voyager.net/~abartmes)
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To: socal_parrot
Barbie left Ken for Sponge Bob?!!!

Well, I guess it's off to San Francisco for the two of them.

tsk. tsk.
28 posted on 02/13/2004 11:10:06 AM PST by demnomo
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To: Larry Lucido
bump
29 posted on 02/13/2004 11:14:50 AM PST by RippleFire
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To: demnomo
Barbie left Ken for Sponge Bob?!!!

Ken wasn't sponge-worthy.

SD

30 posted on 02/13/2004 11:17:04 AM PST by SoothingDave
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To: netmilsmom
Mommy ping. Know anyone whose kid likes SpongeThingie?
31 posted on 02/13/2004 11:18:06 AM PST by 4mycountry (If new people are newbies.... does that make me an oldbie?)
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To: Larry Lucido
I fugured for Valentine's Day they would come out with a Contraceptive Sponge Bob...
32 posted on 02/13/2004 11:18:26 AM PST by LN2Campy
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To: Larry Lucido
And the world gets weirder and weirder....
33 posted on 02/13/2004 11:18:37 AM PST by FourPeas (!)
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To: socal_parrot
Yes, word is that ken got the boot.
34 posted on 02/13/2004 11:20:04 AM PST by alexandria
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To: far sider
You better put some ketchup on that
35 posted on 02/13/2004 11:26:13 AM PST by Contra
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To: Larry Lucido
Cool, I finally have an image to use for Black History Month..

What gets me is the way that the story was written.. Boxes in stores, when they only got one complaint about one box bought from one WalMart.

Ahh, good old Knight Ridder journalism in action yet again.
36 posted on 02/13/2004 11:41:07 AM PST by kingu (Freepmail me if you want to be added or removed from the Survivor ping list.)
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To: humblegunner; TheMom

37 posted on 02/13/2004 12:04:43 PM PST by Eaker (Place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark. - Lazarus Long)
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To: 4mycountry
My nephew, his wife and their two year old are crazy nuts for the show.
I have watched it there and it's funny but the girls are not impressed at all.

Have you been exposed to it??
38 posted on 02/13/2004 1:41:09 PM PST by netmilsmom (Don't put a question mark where God put a period.)
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To: Larry Lucido
My son gave out SpongeBob valentines...didn't see any of this.
39 posted on 02/13/2004 1:44:46 PM PST by I'm ALL Right!
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To: netmilsmom
My niece loves SpongeBob. I got my first introduction when she visited us for the weekend.

I swear unto you, it will be a cold day in hell before I ever willingly watch that show again.
40 posted on 02/13/2004 3:21:27 PM PST by 4mycountry (If new people are newbies.... does that make me an oldbie?)
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To: 50sDad
HEY! "The Wiz" was a fun movie. :)
41 posted on 02/13/2004 3:36:01 PM PST by PureSolace (I love freedom.)
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To: Larry Lucido
This shows a total lack on sensitivity by American Greetings Corporation towards the plight of Sponge-Americans.
42 posted on 02/13/2004 3:44:48 PM PST by GreenHornet
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To: Larry Lucido
"A Wal-Mart official said customers who want refunds can have them...

If they were so darned offended why did they buy the card? When I see something that offends me I don't buy it.

"There were no plans to take the boxes off shelves."

I don't see why they would. And this story certainly would get the product sold and sold fast. That's how you move product if it's defective, you make it a collector's item.

43 posted on 02/13/2004 5:30:52 PM PST by perfect stranger (No tag line text found. ERROR 7c240000-10e36. This application will be terminated.)
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