NYT's Racially Segregated Gift Guide Offends, Not Least of All Because the Gifts Are Lame

Got a non-white person on your Christmas list? Know nothing about him/her other than his/her race? For racist grannies who maybe feel funny about their adopted Chinese grandkids, The New York Times offers a very special "Of Color" gift guide.

So, if that special someone says, "This year, what I'd really like is stuff that focuses exclusively on my race," here's NYT's guide to "gifts created for and by people of color this holiday season," including a "Wise Latina" tee-shirt and The Mocha Manual to Military Life: A Savvy Guide for Wives, Girlfriends and Female Service Members.

NYTPicker says the guide is racist. Mediate pussyfoots with "bordering on offensive." What "border" didn't this cross? It's a celebration of the racist assumption that "people of color" are defined by their colors—but white people get to self-define with their interests, hobbies, and desire for "Home and Decorating Gifts for $25 and Under."

Also, these gifts are mostly backhanded insults, and not just to one's race. For instance:

NYT's Racially Segregated Gift Guide Offends, Not Least of All Because the Gifts Are Lame


Pretext: This book will improve your makeup skills.
Subtext: Your makeup skills need improving. Your foundation never matches your skin tone, your complexion is blotchy, and you are not nearly pretty enough to go without. Cover it up, already.
Racist Subtext: Your Asian eyes are freaking me out. Can't you use some kind of shadow trick to make it look like you have eyelids?

NYT's Racially Segregated Gift Guide Offends, Not Least of All Because the Gifts Are Lame


Pretext: This product will help you deal with "problem hair."
Subtext: Your hair is a "problem."
Racist Subtext: Black hair is a "problem," and black women's grooming habits are of public interest, which is why I consider it my business to help you rein in that mane.

NYT's Racially Segregated Gift Guide Offends, Not Least of All Because the Gifts Are Lame


Pretext: This book will help you discuss the "nuanced complexities of African-American relationships."
Subtext: Your relationship is terrible, and you are so dense, I think you need a book to explain how to fix it.
Racist Subtext: Someone once told me black people come from broken homes and beat their wives. You are black, therefore yours is probably a broken home, and your husband is probably beating you. Here, let me save you with this book, is was written by a black celebrity.

Mediaite questions how the "Of Color" guide "made it past the editing process." My question is, what kind of "editing process" do gift guides go through anyway? Especially ones destined to live only on the web? If the age of Lucky magazine has taught us anything, it's that shopping guides are as much about stroking editors' relationships with subjects/designers/publicists as they are about content. The New York Times is supposed to be better than that, but if it turns out they dropped their editorial standards a bit for their massive array of web-only holiday shopping guides (complete with click-through internet sales) I doubt anyone would be shocked.

[NYT] [NYTPicker] [Mediaite]