Takeisha Saunders was browsing the greeting cards aisle at a Dallas-area Target and began scanning the “Husbands” section.
In the run-up to Father’s Day, the shelves offered plenty of choice: cards with photos, cards without photos.
Cards with white couples on the cover.
And one card featuring a black couple: Over a silhouette of a black couple kissing were scripted pink letters reading: “Baby Daddy.”
Her posts have since gone viral and raised broader questions about the derogatory nature of terms such as “baby daddy” and “baby mama” to describe unwed black parents. Target and the card’s designer, American Greetings, have since apologized and pulled the card from circulation.
“When I grew up, being a ‘baby mama’ or a ‘baby daddy’ was a negative thing. It wasn’t something you wanted to be,” Saunders told The Washington Post. “I still hold that to be true. … I don’t see my husband that way.”
American Greetings and people responding to Saunders’s posts pointed out that the inside of the card doesn’t only speak to “baby daddies.” Instead it read: “You’re a wonderful husband and father — and I’m so grateful to have you as my partner, my friend, and my baby daddy! Happy Father’s Day.”
Still, the shock factor of the cover stood out. Saunders’s Instagram post about the card was tweeted by another woman who wrote that “baby daddy” was not a term of endearment but, rather, “an insult to black fathers and a slap in the face to the African-American community as a whole.” There are plenty of black men who aren’t just “baby daddies” but excellent fathers, too, she wrote.
The card was available in 900 Target stores and is now being manually removed from the shelves. Target’s greeting card department has thousands of cards in rotation. And while the stocking of those cards is handled by card vendors, Target gives the final approval.
Last week, the big-box store learned of Saunders’s social media posts. That’s when the company started working with American Greetings to pull the card from its shelves.
“We appreciate the feedback and apologize,” Target spokesman Joshua Thomas said in a statement. “It’s never our intent to offend any of our guests with the products we sell.”
Patrice Molnar, a spokeswoman for American Greetings, said the card was created for and addressed to husbands, as shown by the inside message.
“However, we now see that the front page, taken out of context, can communicate an unintentional meaning that we are strongly against perpetuating and is not consistent with our company purpose and values,” Molnar said.
The card was sold in roughly 5,300 “mass, drug and grocery stores” nationwide, Molnar said, adding that retailers besides Target have been told to remove the card. This was the first time American Greetings’ “Baby Daddy” card went into circulation.
Saunders said she never called for a boycott of Target or American Greetings and didn’t even ask that the companies pull the card. But she hopes the card’s insensitivity will bring attention to how difficult it can be for all groups to find merchandise that reflects their own lives.
Beyond a Father’s Day card, it took shopping at multiple stores for her to find a black doll for her young daughter, Saunders said.
“It’s not just limited to that one product,” she said. “It’s about inclusion.”