bumGenius Chico – Formerly Known as Rudyard Kipling

I never thought that I would talk about race relations on Cloth Diaper Addicts.  It’s a website devoted to cloth diapering, not social justice.  Today, though, those two worlds collided.  All because bumGenius gave us a new diaper.

At 12:45 Pacific time, Cotton Babies released this diaper:

bg-ft-kipling-300It’s pretty, isn’t it?  And the print is so very clearly inspired by Disney’s The Jungle Book.  It’s what the masses have wanted: a Disney inspired diaper.  However, before The Jungle Book was a novel written by Rudyard Kipling.  Rudyard Kipling was a brilliant writer.  He was a literary genius.

In the Cotton Babies bio that they’d had on Kipling, they’d mentioned his support of British Imperialism.  I, initially, thought that it was the white paternalism and desire for power and riches that was British Imperialism.  I didn’t realize that British Imperialism went far beyond love of British culture and wanting to spread it everywhere through the growth of the Empire.  It wasn’t until today that I learned that there was a much, much less wholesome side to British Imperialism.  Kipling embodied that side.

He was a racist.  Not just a little racist who casually didn’t like people of another colour but kept his mouth shut.  No, he actually wrote a poem called White Man’s Burden.  I was personally horrified when I discovered the depth of his bigotry.  So, apparently, was Jennifer Labit.  Cotton Babies made the decision to rename the diaper Chico after a Latin American activist.

I will not vilify them for this decision.  Or for naming the diaper after Kipling in the first place.  Some very, very good things happened today because of this.  Some amazing conversations on race were had in a group that typically deletes them very quickly.  Some of the women of the Black Women Do Cloth Diaper group discovered some allies that they did not know that they had.  Cotton Babies made it clear what they want their brand to stand for… and it’s not racism.

There have been times in the past when I’ve been less than thrilled with Cotton Babies’ decisions.  (Hey, I’m human.)  But today?  Definitely not one of them.  Race is a conversation that we need to have.  We need to discuss the institutionalized racism that leads to black children being kicked out of a pool, or to black children being disciplined more harshly than their white peers for the same infractions in schools.  We need to discuss the actualities of the Spanish speaking population and their families, rather than let The Donald make his case.  We need to discuss the fact that Canada is far from perfect in terms of racial biases, and that First Nations families are still being destroyed through government interference today.

Cotton Babies opened a door for conversation that has needed to happen for quite some time.  I, for one, hope that eyes were opened and that the conversation continues.