On Thursday, Facebook user Daniell Rider posted a photo to Hobby Lobby’s Facebook page, of a vase of cotton flowers displayed in a Texas store. She captioned it, “This decor is WRONG on SO many levels. There is nothing decorative about raw cotton… A commodity which was gained at the expense of African-American slaves. A little sensitivity goes a long way. PLEASE REMOVE THIS ‘décor.’”
The $29.99 stems (marked down to $15 on the company website) was shared more than 15K times and earned 169K comments, an overwhelming majority of which ridiculed Rider for being “too sensitive” and a few that defended her stance.
“LOL likely written by someone wearing a cotton T-shirt and cotton jeans and cotton underwear,” wrote one Facebook user. “Must not of thought that one through,” wrote someone else.
“Boycott Hobby Lobby,” wrote another.
“This is crazy. Cotton is a fact of life,” added one. “People still pick it. That happened 150 years ago. Slaves also picked tobacco, harvested rice and many other things. We can’t just get rid of them. Well Lowe’s sells chains and rope. You think they should get rid of that too?”
Hobby Lobby did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment; however, cotton has been igniting backlash recently.
On Friday, Randy Lowry, the president of Lipscomb University in Nashville, sent an apology letter to African-American students who recently visited his home to discuss university life, some of whom objected to cotton-stalk centerpieces at the president’s home (although it’s unknown whether they were the same that were sold at Hobby Lobby).
“The content of the centerpieces was offensive, and I could have handled the situation with more sensitivity,” Lowry wrote. “I sincerely apologize for the discomfort, anger or disappointment we caused and solicit your forgiveness.”