Do we really need to guide to buy for people of color?

As an Eti­quette Con­sul­tant,  have heard racial com­ments from kids who undoubt­edly heard it from adults in their home.  While dis­cussing self-esteem and why friends some­times play apart, one stu­dent said, “My mother said not to hang around with Black peo­ple because they are ALL in gangs.“  Anoth­er time a child said, “My mother said ALL   Mex­i­cans are lazy.“  After decades of try­ing to become a color blind soci­ety, we still have par­ents pro­mot­ing these racial stereotypes.

Unfor­tu­nately, this is not just hap­pen­ing at home.  Simone S. Oliver, a writer for the New York Times, wrote an arti­cle titled, Of Color Styl­ish Gifts.  This is a hol­i­day buy­ing guide tar­geted to Black peo­ple.  The arti­cle appeared in the ’09 Hol­i­day Buy­ing Guide of the New York Times.  Why would the New York Times, the nation’s lead­ing news­pa­per, even con­sider pub­lish­ing such a racially biased piece?  Don’t we all want the lat­est iPod, the clear­est plasma tele­vi­sion, a gift card to Star­bucks?  Why did they choose to high­light racial dif­fer­ences?  Why not take it the next step and say these were Kwanza gift ideas?

We need to respect the lega­cies of peo­ple like Dr. Mar­tin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and Cae­sar Chavez and pro­mote unity so the future gen­er­a­tions see peo­ple for who they are and not for the color of their skin.

I would love to hear from…. Share your thoughts, eti­quette faux pax sto­ries or ques­tions…  Jul

  Jul Hirst is an eti­quette instruc­tor based in Los Ange­les, who believes it is never too late to make a last­ing impres­sion.  She teaches classes for chil­dren, teens and adults.  She is Pres­i­dent of For A Jul Pro­duc­tions, a wed­ding and event and eti­quette con­sult­ing firm.  Learn more at  She also is head of Hearts For The City, a non-profit orga­ni­za­tion teach­ing eti­quette and social skills to under­priv­i­leged chil­dren, fos­ter chil­dren and peo­ple re-entering the workforce.