Magnet Manufacturer Pulls 'Incorrect' Black History Month Products, Offers Refunds

In the wake of widespread criticism, a company has decided to pull several "incorrect" products from the market and offer refunds to customers. The company, Bendon Publishing, based in Carson, California, had marketed several magnets and accompanying cards for Black History Month that featured prominent African American figures, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, and Carter G. Woodson.

Unfortunately, as many people quickly noticed, the products appeared to misidentify the figures. For instance, a magnet labeling DuBois showed a picture of Booker T. Washington, while a card labeled Washington depicted Woodson.

On February 9, Ms. Espy posted a photo of the products to her Twitter account, commenting on the errors and highlighting what she saw as the company's insensitivity to these important Black figures. Her post gained significant traction online, with many people re-sharing and commenting on the offensive nature of the misidentified images.

Yesterday, Bendon Publishing issued a statement announcing that it would remove the products from stores and offer refunds to customers who had purchased them.

"We are saddened that our Black History Month Magnets have caused concern and offense and shone a negative light on these notable figures. We deeply and sincerely apologize for any pain caused overnight to the affected individuals and communities. We have immediately stopped the shipment of the product and are working with our retailers to show our respect and commitment to honoring these historical black leaders and rectify the situation."

Despite the statement, many people online are continuing to criticize the company for the misidentification and the lack of care in producing these products.

Ms. Espy told NYTimes that the company had reached out to her via direct message on Twitter, hoping to rectify the situation.

"I get it, mistakes happen," Ms. Espy told the publication. "But these were actual pioneers in their field and they deserve better. I'm not interested in accepting a free replacement product or reimbursement at this point. The damage is done."

This scandal surfaces against the backdrop of an ongoing struggle for African Americans to achieve equity in cultural representation, especially in fields like education. Many have engaged in a dialogue about how to best honor the contributions of Black historians and educators, making the stakes of accurate representation especially high.

Regardless of the company's intentions, the inaccuracies could hardly be deemed insignificant, especially for someone like Ms. Espy, who spends her days educating students about Black history and African American achievement.

"These people mattered. They changed the world. And because of them, I have a better world to live in today. They deserve more than a cardboard cutout."

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