Black Public Scholars

August 17, 2009

Why Racism is not good for Business

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

I received a call from CNN today about a major corporate mistake. We talk about such marketing issues in our Finance and Business Management classes at Syracuse University, and this was surely one that will be analyzed in many case studies for years to come.

In an apparent slip of intellect, someone with the Costco Corporation decided that it might be a good idea to put out black dolls with the words “Lil Monkey” on the top of the doll’s forehead. Alrighty then, that makes sense.

I don’t think that any executive with the Costco Corporation woke up this morning saying, “How do I offend as many black people as possible today?” But this does not excuse the fact that this move will be interpreted as a racist one, as it should be. The world is no longer plagued as much by good old fashioned racism, where a klan member shows up on your porch and calls you the n-word. We now have corporations and other institutions with white male dominated power structures that have not embraced diversity of ethnicity, thought or perspective. Racial ignorance remains acceptable and economic imperialism over people of color becomes the rule of the day. The point is simple: Someone should have caught this error before those dolls left the door, but no one cared enough to try.

Click to read.


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