Baby Sling Beef: Who’s Really Being Misrepresented– Blacks or Baby K’tan?

June 25, 2014  |  

For days the folks at Baby K’tan have been at the center of controversy after a photo of two of their baby sling packages went viral. While thousands rallied against the company’s apparent omission of the African American father in the packaging, I waited; fully expecting the Baby K’Tan PR machine to churn out a “sincere” apology complete with a Jerry Maguire-esque declaration of their love for black people. Instead, the company released a response to the social media melee, that was, as one Facebook user put it, “a bit snippy, unapologetic, and with not a hint of understanding or compassion.”


“We wholeheartedly reject any false, unfounded and baseless claims of discrimination as depicted in the above misrepresentation.”
–Baby K’tan

Not exactly what I was looking for. But probably because, as it turns out, Baby K’tan is a rather small company. Actually, “small” would be a vast understatement. They’re a team of about ten people. They don’t have a PR “machine.” So their response — as disappointing as it may have been to most — was theirs. It was genuine. And much more than that, it was grounded in fact.

The fact that the packages shown are only two of five that exist for the Baby K’tan slings.
The fact that of those five packages, four feature a picture of just the mother and child.
The fact that the product that features the black mother is actually more expensive than the others; not cheaper, as people have been complaining. (Chalk that up to it being inaccurately priced by the retailer in that photo, NOT Baby K’tan.)
And the fact that WE are the ones assuming that the black mother on the package is single.

Do we really think that the black father’s not in the picture just because he’s, well– not in the picture?
Do we think the same when looking at the package of the white woman standing alone with her child?

Yes, one-on-one, side-by-side, it would appear that something — someone — is missing.  But there are a lot of people missing on the Baby K’tan packages. Where are the Asian women? The same sex couples? What about the BBWs?

There isn’t a box big enough to depict all of the different types of people and families that exist in today’s society. And as much as we may not like it, Baby K’tan is well within their right NOT to show those images on their products…just like the hundreds of other companies out there that have ZERO diversity whatsoever in their marketing efforts; you know, the companies we haven’t spent the past week publicly shaming, calling them racist and vowing to boycott their products.

Is Baby K’tan diverse?
Does their packaging misrepresent black families?
Are people overreacting?

Regardless of how you answer those questions, before we get all amped up about who is or isn’t being misrepresented; before we jump to attach labels to people, packages, or companies and share pictures that stir up controversy, perhaps we should first worry about whether or not the truth is being represented, and make our decisions based off of that. Otherwise we find ourselves fighting unnecessary battles and making enemies out of those who are actually friends.

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