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Hospitality House Disavows Ad; Picture Was Outrageous; Thanks, Mrs. Earley


Hospitality House Disavows Ad

On Oct. 27, the Hospital Hospitality House held its first annual Halloween Ball in a Haunted Hall. The house greatly appreciated Style Weekly's decision to serve as the print media sponsor for the event. As a part of its advertising of the ball, Style created a contest to select the best reader's costume for Halloween. The agreement was that HHH would provide two admissions for the contest winner, as selected by Style.

Unfortunately, the entry selected by Style Weekly was a stereotypic "Aunt Jemima" that is offensive to HHH and many of its constituencies. Neither HHH nor any of the ball sponsors had any part in review of the submitted entries or in the selection process.

HHH's management and board greatly regret the unfortunate choice by Style Weekly. This selection showed a lack of sensitivity and understanding of the diverse nature of the Richmond community, and is in direct conflict with the principles and values of the Hospitality House, its staff, its board of directors and the sponsors of this event. We appreciate Style for being up front in taking full responsibility for this selection and in working with the HHH to correct any negative image that may have been created by this unintended offense.

Babs Jackson
Hospital Hospitality House

John Daly
Chairman, Board of Directors, HHH

Dr. Robert Higgins
Chairman, Halloween Ball Committee & Board Member, HHH

Picture Was Outrageous

It seems that Style fails to recognize the fact that the Aunt Jemima figure, an image loaded with iconographic complexity, is impossible to parody without connoting the baggage of its racist meanings. How can Style choose this costume, of all costumes, as the winner of its Halloween costume contest?

The figure of Aunt Jemima is problematic because it validates perceptions of the South as a culture of white leisure and black labor/slavery. While the Quaker Oats Co. has changed Aunt Jemima's image from an outmoded representation of a black "mammy" to a younger, more upbeat stereotype, she is still recognizably Aunt Jemima. Aunt Jemima, in all of her reincarnations, has never symbolically valued the humanity of black women. Instead, she has signified the commodification of racial and gender inequality in America.

Unfortunately, one does not free a racist stereotype from its complexity by naively re-appropriating it as Halloween costume.

Melissa Dopp

Editor's Note: We at Style regret that we published a photograph that offended many members of the community. The photograph was part of a Style Weekly promotional effort aimed at raising money for a Richmond nonprofit organization, which meant that it fell completely outside of the magazine's editorial department and the typical procedures for evaluating all photos and text that make up the editorial content. The nonprofit, Hospital Hospitality House, had no prior knowledge of the image in question, and we regret any difficulty we have caused them.

Style works with many nonprofit organizations to help promote events for raising money to benefit the community. Because each of these events is distinct, with usually very different themes and goals, there is no set procedure for evaluating material related to such promotions.

As a result of this experience and the points made by Ms. Dopp and others, we are putting procedures in place to ensure that, in the future, all material related to promotions is evaluated with the same attention and standards given to our editorial content.

Thanks, Mrs. Earley

Your article about Cynthia Earley's experience as a marrow donor was a powerful reminder to the thousands of willing people hoping to be a lifesaving match for a patient: Your time may come.

It had been years since Mrs. Earley registered as a marrow donor. But when the call came, she was ready. We salute her.

As Mrs. Earley's story reveals, donating marrow is neither painful nor time-consuming. And it offers life, in many cases to children suffering from leukemia and other life-threatening blood diseases.

Because minorities are so seriously underrepresented in the National Marrow Donor Program's national registry, funding is always available that allows minorities to be tested and join the registry at no charge. Currently, funding is also available that reduces the testing cost to $21 for Caucasians wishing to join the registry, about $50 less than typical.

Robert Carden

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