With Father’s Day around the corner, Takeisha Saunders thought she’d pick up a card for her husband while making a Target run in North Texas.
The Army Captain from Royse City, about 30 miles east of Dallas, browsed the greeting cards aisle at the big box retailer's Rockwall location looking for the perfect card for her husband, who is also an Army veteran. The couple has a young daughter.
Under the section labeled "Husband," Saunders came across a card depicting a black couple overlaid with the phrase "Baby Daddy." Inside, the card says, "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."
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It was the only card that featured a black couple.
Saunders took a photo of the card and shared it on social media. In a Facebook post published May 31, Saunders wrote: "You CANNOT be serious Target!!!! Really!!!?!!!!? This was the only Father’s Day card that featured a black couple!!!!!!” She tagged Target and American Greetings, the company that made the card.
"This particular card is marketed to the black consumer. Without knowing what the phrase means they published it," Saunders told NBC via Facebook Messenger. "All I did was make a comment about my lack of options for my husband. My issue is inclusion and how there were no other black husband cards."
The post started making rounds on social media and other Target shoppers claimed to have spotted the same card at their local stores, echoing Saunders' sentiments about the lack of options for black couples as well as the racial insensitivity associated with the term "Baby Daddy."
Facing a backlash, Target issued an apology Wednesday and announced it would be pulling the card from its shelves.
"We want all guests to feel welcomed and respected when they shop at Target," Target spokesman Joshua Thomas said in a statement. "We were made aware of some concerns about this card last week and are working with our vendor to have it removed from Target stores. We appreciate the feedback and apologize. It’s never our intent to offend any of our guests with the products we sell."
American Greetings also apologized and said it would stop selling the card at all retailers, including Target.
"This particular card was created for, and addressed to, a loving husband — which the inside copy makes clear," American Greetings said in a statement to NBC. "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. We should do better in the future, and we will. We have notified our store merchandisers to remove the card from the shelves and apologize for any offense we’ve caused."
However, not all Target shoppers were as angered by the controversial “Baby Daddy” cards, with some appearing to find them more amusing than offensive.
"@TARGET should not have pulled the BABY DADDY cards. People are addicted to being outraged in this era," one Twitter user posted.
Saunders notes that while some people called for the card’s removal, she never asked Target to pull it from its shelves and told NBC she has no issue that the card exists because "some people might like it."
"My issue is inclusion and how there were no other black husband cards. When I was growing up a 'baby daddy or 'baby momma' was not what you wanted or wanted to be. It was negative and still is to many people, obviously based on the other folks talking about it. So, I do not call my husband that, and he would be upset if I got [the card] for him."
She continued, "This issue is not only limited to cards. It applies to all kinds of products across our economy. I did not call for the card to be removed in the first place. I’m sure others did but my issue was this was the only one. If we don't speak up about it, it will continue and manifest in other ways, that’s the way stereotypes work."
Thomas told NBC that Target continuously updates its merchandise options based on feedback from its customers.
"We appreciate the feedback and we will take the feedback to our vendors who create products for this store," Thomas added.
American Greetings did not immediately respond to email requests for comment on Saunder's concerns about the lack of product options available to families of color.