I dig Krispy Kreme as much as the next girl — but that doesn't make an mindblowingly terrible gaffe made recently by the UK branch of the donut chain any easier to stomach. According to Mashable, Krispy Kreme UK is currently under fire for making the extremely poor decision of naming a promotional event “Krispy Kreme Klub” — and using the initials “KKK” to advertise it. For real. I am not kidding, and it was not the handiwork of a hacker or a troll. For what it's worth, Krispy Kreme is really, really sorry about it… but still.
Here's the deal: In an effort to keep British schoolchildren occupied during their current holiday break, a Krispy Kreme UK branch located in Hull posted an image on their Facebook page advertising a week's worth of “half term activities.” Each day featured a fun-sounding event: “Coloring Tuesday” from 11 AM to 3 PM on February 17, “Facepainting Thursday” from 10 AM to 2 PM on February 19… and, regretfully, something called “KKK Wednesday” from 12 PM to 5 PM on February 18. Although the event was most definitely not intended to sound like it was connected to the Ku Klux Klan, the simple truth is that those three initials will forever be associated with one of the worst hate crime groups in history.
The Facebook post detailing the event has since been deleted; as we all know, though, the Internet is forever — which means that you probably be surprised to find that numerous people managed to capture it for posterity before it vanished from Krispy Kreme UK's Facebook page. Here's what it looked like:
Krispy Kreme UK apologized as soon as the issue was brought to their attention, so at least there's that; according to the Mirror Online, the company apologized “unreservedly for the inappropriate name of a customer promotion at one of our stores” and noted that “all material has been withdrawn and an internal investigation is currently underway.” It's probably also worth noting that the half-term activities schedule — including “KKK Wednesday” — appears to have been meant as a nationwide campaign; said a spokeswoman for the Hull branch to the Daily Mail, “This was sent from head office so it has been advertised at all the outlets. But we have no taken down the sign from our point of sale.” The Hull event will still be occurring, although it currently lacks a new name.
I suppose at least the silver lining in this casually racist cloud is this: The gaffe was made by Krispy Kreme UK, not Krispy Kreme US. Given the Klan's origins in America and its history as a largely American horror, the initials “KKK” may not automatically ring the same alarm bells for people in other countries. This doesn't excuse the unthinking use of it — we live in a global society, after all, not strange, isolated little bubbles — but it does make it a little more understandable. In spite of that, though, I still stand by what I've written every time this sort of thoughtless thing occurs: It's terrible, and someone absolutely should have caught it before the advertising materials were approved for public distribution.
We — and by “we,” I mean everyone in the world, no matter where they're located — have to attune ourselves to casual and unintentional racism and other offensive behavior. The fact that we're all talking about it after it happens is a good start — but we need to do more. We need to be able to see these sorts of issues before the metaphorical shit hits the fan. Start small — thinking about what you're about to say before you let it come out of your mouth. If we all get into the habit of doing that, maybe we can finally put a stop to the behavior as a whole. That would be quite a victory indeed.
Image: Krispy Kreme UK/Facebook