A strawberry festival in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, is under fire from the NAACP over the poster that is being used, which depicts 2 dark skinned children with a basket of strawberries.
After meeting with local NAACP officials Wednesday (March 25), the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival announced it would not sell or display its controversial poster at the event April 10-12. The Festival also issued an apology for the poster’s artwork, although it remains the official Festival poster.
Wednesday’s meeting came after social media erupted with a debate about whether the poster, which depicts two black children and was painted by New Orleans artist Kalle Siekkinen, is insensitive or racist.
In an interview with Doug MacCash of NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, Seikkenen said it did not occur to him people would be offended by the poster, which he saw as an homage to Bill Hemmerling and his Tangipahoa Parish roots.
“I was kind of surprised when I read it,” Seikkenen told MacCash about his reaction to the social media tumult.
I think (to) reach out to those that are hurt and apologize and explain that it’s really not about race, it’s about a feeling that the paintings exude,” he said of the work.
The poster is designed to raise money for the Ponchatoula Kiwanis Club. There were reports this year’s poster has been the best selling one ever and Club President Randy Tomeny did not dispute that.
So if it’s racist to not include people of color in cultural events and media, is it now racist to include them, as well?