|Watermelon soda can|
This past weekend, I visited a popular supermarket chain and found cases of Watermelon soda cans stacked up by the register. The light green cans featured a gap tooth, freckle-face, cartoon boy clutching a gigantic slice of watermelon. I laughed because I thought the the cans were a joke. I was seriously waiting for someone to say that it was a joke. I knew April Fools Day had passed though (side-eye). I figured there was no way that the soda manufacturer could be serious about releasing a product that was blatantly racist. Not only are you going to give us a can with a stereotype on the front, but you're going to sell it in an African-American community? I really shouldn't be surprised.
In addition, I did some research and found that the Watermelon soda cans sold in Target in 2009, but it featured a little Black girl. After receiving backlash from the African-American community, the manufacturers removed the image of the Black girl and used the little boy with fair skin. The image of Black people happily eating watermelon dates back to slavery times in the 1800s. During that time, whites would perform minstrel shows (often in black face) that portrayed Black people as dumb and easily satisfied by watermelon and/or chicken. Images like the one on the can below, became common images associated with Black people. Merriam-Webster.com defines coon as "USUALLY OFFENSIVE: BLACK." Also, the Urban Dictionary defines coon as "An insulting name for a Black person. Similar to "Nigger." The word "coon" was the name used to identify the Black characters that were played by racist white performers in their shows. The degradation of their characters was more fuel to the fire of the stereotype.
|Black girl on watermelon soda can (photo courtesy of Flickr- Justin Cozart (jczart)|
Now, let's fast forward to 2013... We have a Black man in the White House, but still a watermelon stereotype on a soda can? Hmmm. The Watermelon soda can and many other incidences shows that we still have a long way to go as people. I guess everyone just has to take things one can at a time. SMH.
What do you think about the new Watermelon soda can?