Saturday, September 06, 2008

To be fair...

The other day I posted about some of the covert racism I noticed at the DNC. As I mentioned, I wrote the guy who created the Obama action figure because I was concerned that the brand name was "Jailbreak Toys."

To his credit, he did write me back and explain. Though I buy his explanation, I still think it is important to be sensitive. Perception, whether real or perceived, needs to be valued. What is the message being sent to so many kids and adults (of all ethnicities) who don't write in and find out the real meaning behind the brand name of his toys?

I believe the name should be changed.

You can read his explanation below. If you are still concerned, though, I would highly recommend writing a letter to the creator of the Obama figure to encourage him to change the name.

Evidently, he's already gotten several calls/emails before. If he gets a bunch more expressing concern, he may be more likely to think about it a little more and possibly change the name.

This is the opportunity to show off our "community organizing" skills and come out in numbers to (hopefully) influence him.

Hi Janet,

I've received this question many times since starting the Obama project. Below, I've pasted the answer that was given to Essence magazine when they inquired. I hope this dispels any doubts you may have about the name:

It's funny because it's gotten more notice than I ever intended or thought it would but here's the story of the name, in a nutshell;

I started the company when I was 27 years old working as a waiter at Harry's Burritos on W. 3rd. At that point I'd spent five years working various jobs; as a teacher, a temp, a hospital worker, a waiter, and a film crew member, among other things. The name of the company came from a pact I'd made with myself in writing. I promised to free myself from that situation of working long hard hours at tough jobs for low pay... all so someone else could get richer. At 27, I determined that if I didn't break myself out of that "jail" through patience, hard work and a smart plan, I'd have no one but myself to blame if I stayed down there forever. And thus, Jailbreak was born. So, as you can see it's very symbolic but purely on a personal level. It reminds where I came from and where I'm trying to get to.

Hope that clears things up.


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