Gary DeWester, Racist Soap, & Black Face Cupcakes

What’s Wrong With Preserving Our Racist Past?

by JuJube (Joanna)

Gary DeWester, the owner of “The General Store” in Noblesville, Indiana, is happy about the controversy caused by the racist labels on soaps sold in his old fashioned store. He believes that the outrage that this product has caused is “free publicity”, and will help bring people into his shop. After all, racism sells, and the almighty dollar is king.

Gary was told by the owner of the building in which he leases his store that he must pull the offensive product from the shelves. He has refused, citing the notion that people are “too politically correct”. He even states (with pride) that “our country was built on racism”. Mr. DeWester is now facing the possibility of losing his lease because of his refusal to stop selling these racist items.

I remember seeing items from the past that used blatant racism as advertising. I was always appalled that people found such things perfectly acceptable, and wondered how anyone can look at such things and not be offended. Today’s racism, though just as insidious, always seemed to be more subtle (for example, the Old Navy commercial I wrote about a few weeks ago) But, obviously some people still believe in good old fashioned, in your face racism.

Sometimes I wonder what is worse, the obvious racism of these soap labels (which I am sure some people will label as “kitschy” or “nostalgic” despite their offensiveness) or the more subtle racist messages in media today. Most people will look at this soap and immediately recognize that it is unacceptable to portray these images. But, sadly, people will look at the Duncan Hines Amazing Glazes commercial (featuring Black face in cupcake form) as just a cute ad for a new product. So, have things really changed all that much?