Southern US Strawberry Festival Sparks a Race Row

BBC, March 24, 2015

The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the small city near Lake Pontchartrain every April, and according to organisers is second in popularity in the state only to Mardi Gras itself.

When the festival unveiled its official poster on Wednesday–featuring faceless African American children wearing their white Sunday best and holding a basket of strawberries–it took less than 24 hours to generate bitter disagreement.


Katy Monnot, who runs a community and parenting news group on Facebook, quickly shared the image asking for people’s thoughts.

“At first the comments were about how cute the image was and how sweet,” Monnot said.

“Then a couple of hours later someone posted, ‘Am I the only one cringing a bit here?’ followed by another ‘I don’t like this at all.'”

Within a few hours the post exploded and she had more than 600 comments from all over the US.

Many people said the children are made to look like images from the Jim Crow era or “pickaninnies”, a word with negative connotations that refers to caricatures of black children.

Some who found the image offensive even called for a boycott of the festival.

Many were upset with the fact that the children appeared to have no facial features, are drawn with large red lips, and in their Sunday best, suggesting that these were the only decent clothes they had.

“It’s as if they wanted to remind us of years ago when the strawberry fields were full of black families picking strawberries,” said Patricia Morris, president of Greater Tangipahoa Parish chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

“The white kids were going to schools early but the black children had to stay to work the fields.”

Morris said there were “a lot of remnants of what happened in the 50s in the civil rights movement” in the area.

“These things were really a reality. I was there,” she said. “We’re gotten past that and you think they have too and then something brings the remembrance of the past back to us.”

Those unhappy with the image, including Morris, have petitioned Ponchatoula Mayor Robert Zabbia to have it removed.

The mayor, also a member of the Kiwani Club committee who chose the image, released an official statement advising the festival to stop sales of the poster.

“I understand that it has caused hurt among a significant portion of our wonderful community and created division,” he wrote.

Morris says that the image might be less insulting if it had been chosen by a group with more racial diversity.

It also comes at a time when many Louisiana school districts are under court order to prevent schools from being segregated by race.

“What are our children supposed to think now?” Morris said.

“We are fighting a 50-year desegregation law. We’re trying to get our young kids what they need–this is another slap in the face.”

The festival’s own Facebook page has almost two hundred comments, one of which called the poster “disgusting”.

Some parents had even posted pictures of their own children holding up signs saying “We are not pickaninnies”.

But late Friday night it appeared that the group disabled their own comments, which can no longer be viewed.

The image has fans as well–it has sold out since it went on sale last week, according to the artist, Kalle Siekkinen.

Siekkinen, who has a gallery in the French Quarter in New Orleans, said that he is honouring a tradition of southern art, heavily influenced by the work of his late mentor Bill Hemmerling.

“I was shocked and surprised as we rarely if ever have any controversy in the gallery here,” Siekkinen told the BBC.

“I see my paintings as silhouettes. People from all races collect them.”

Siekkinen said his inspiration came from children in general, not specifically black children.

“Black is a mix of all the colours in the world, which come together to make black and the facelessness of characters doesn’t mean they are no-one but everyone and anyone you want them to be.”

“In no way was it ever an intention for them to appear as if they are harvesting crop,” he added.

Hemmerling was from Ponchatoula himself and sold thousands of paintings in the same style to collectors around the world.

Siekkinen in particular was paying homage to a 2008 Strawberry Festival poster by Hemmerling that featured a single girl with a basket of berries, which had also received criticism.

The festival organisers posted a statement to Facebook on Friday to announce that they are standing by the poster.

“As we all know, art is subjective; there was no intent other than to pay tribute to the festival and the strawberry industry. This is Kalle’s interpretation of a similar world-renowned local Ponchatoula artist, now deceased, who he drew his inspiration from.”

Katy Monnot, who began the online conversation, said that she was not surprised.

“I don’t think it occurred to them what they might be doing,” she told the BBC.

“The festival is organised predominantly by white people even though people of all races attend the festival. There is definitely a disconnect: This is a small town festival with a small town mind-set.”


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  • Don’t depict blacks and you’re evil for excluding them. Depict blacks and you’re evil for lampooning them.

    Perhaps it’s best to stop caring what blacks and their enablers think about anything.

    • Speedy Steve

      Expecting them to think is raising the bar to 14 feet!

    • Deacon Blue

      From your lips to god’s ears…

  • Oil Can Harry

    Is there anything in America nowadays that doesn’t “spark a race row”?

    • DonReynolds

      Yes……black on white crime. Mostly, the media ignores it to focus on imaginary slights against blacks that may have been left behind on a bus station bench.

    • Petronius

      They had to cancel the Virginia Heritage Tomato Festival some years back. If memory serves, the heritage tomato was considered racist for some reason or other.

      • IstvanIN

        Because of salmonella?

        • bilderbuster

          You’re thinking about tomatoes from Mexico.

        • Petronius

          No — because the word “heritage” was considered offensive. Those-who-are-always-so-easily-offended did not realize that “heritage” is actually a variety of tomato, rather than a white heritage group.

          • Alden

            The black dean of racial relations, a black man has banned hoop skirts at formal danced at the University if Georgia as racist The same effect can be achieved by stuff net petticoats. He will probably hire some 400 of sheboons to search the White girls dresses at the prom

          • Bob G

            Is that really true? If it is then the instigators are truly illiterate.

      • kikz2

        they’re why we can’t have nice things………………………

    • Bob G

      NASCAR, Hockey and synchronized swimming.

  • RacialRay

    I would have no problem whatsoever if blacks and other “people of color” boycotted every festival, county fair, amusement park, public beach, mall, restaurant, playground, library, parade, schoolyard and street corner in America.

    You go, homies.

    • cherrie greenbaum123

      Yeah! It’d serve us right to find out just how well we’d get along without them.

      • dukem1

        Now THAT’s Funny!

      • ElComadreja

        Really worked out for the illegals a few years back.

    • rentslave

      You forgot voting booth.

    • Charles Martel

      No kidding, and besides realists know that the blacks pictured wouldn’t be working.

  • Capn Dad

    I guess they would really freak out over my statue that holds my keys, wallet and change every night……especially under the watchful eye of General Robert E. Lee.

    • Jedediah Morningside

      They might also not like this a whole lot.

      • Capn Dad


        • Jedediah Morningside

          You can buy them on Amazon. They look like antiques, but I think that they are reproductions. Relatively inexpensive.

          • Capn Dad

            Thanks! Found it.

          • bilderbuster

            They used to have lawn jockeys for sale too.

          • WhiteVeinKratom

            My best friend growing up had a couple of those in his front yard.

            His father caught a bit of crap over them in the 80’s.
            They were gone by 83.
            Sad. They were cute, standing there holding a lamp….

          • bilderbuster

            I found a pair of them on Amazon and bought them for my parent’s place about a dozen years ago so they may still have some for sale there.
            My parents love their little dark jockeys and have told me they’ve had several compliments from visitors.

          • ElComadreja

            We called them “lawn n***ers”.

      • John Smith

        I though “Insured by Smith & Wesson” already said that?

        • Alexandra1973

          My dad used to have a sign on the house saying “Protected by a .357 Magnum.”

        • bilderbuster

          A friend has a sign that reads: Do you believe in an Afterlife?
          Trespass and find out!

    • SentryattheGate

      I like it! Classy!

    • kikz2


    • Deacon Blue

      I actually own a pair of genuine “slave” handcuffs and leg irons from the Old
      South. They were used as you would expect them to be used back in the day.
      I especially like to tell the history of these irons on my fire place mantle when
      some liberal PC douche nozzle is in my parlor, rambling on about White Privilege
      or the like. The best part is that I can discuss these with sheer delight and
      enthusiasm under the ruse of “historical significance” without the PC-tarders
      being able to call me “rayciss” because they are indeed, items of historical

  • libertarian1234

    Anybody who doesn’t dismiss all the black whining as no more than baseless, hateful complaints is too much of a wimp to be in charge of anything.

    And declaring it takes a “diverse” group to make a poster is just another way of pointing out that blacks are too racist to have another group decide anything.

    And anybody who tries to include blacks as part of anything or any event is a fool just asking for loud hateful repercussions by the greatest racists in the world.

    They’re just too dumb to understand anything or to appreciate anything, and they reveal who they really are when they express their gratitude by spitting in whitey’s face for anything the white do-gooders try to do for them.

    • Charles Martel

      Only leftists would think the blacks on the sign are working.

  • superlloyd

    A co-ordinated social network response from SJWs searching for excuses to be offended. These idiots should get a life and a real job.

  • TomIron361

    I much prefer blackamoors…

    • SentryattheGate

      They are caricatures in real life anyway!

      • Speedy Steve

        lawn jockeys

      • ElComadreja

        A grotesque caricature of humanity.

  • Chip Carver

    Do these people have a “Watermelon Festival” coming up? I’d like to see what would happen if they used similar art.

    • ozamataz

      It’s in the Fall, and it runs with the Fried Chicken Festival.

  • DonReynolds

    Blacks (old and young) can boycott this Strawberry Festival.
    Please do!
    You won’t be missed.

  • cherrie greenbaum123

    Is there anything that doesn’t make negroes get their panties in a bunch? It will soon become mandatory to tiptoe around negroes in the hopes they don’t release their inner rage.

    • EuropeanIdentity33

      We could build each one of them a palace to live in and become their indentured servants. They would still complain and treat us no differently than today.

    • Ace

      Or their inner vibrancy.

  • Sighisoara

    Good grief, there are many black southern artists who have depicted negroes this way for decades. This has got to be making people weary.

    • dukem1

      I like the poster…Art Brut, or, Outsider art style….typical of untrained artists who nonetheless create works that resonate aesthetically …
      Perhaps those complaining are unable to appreciate……………art?

  • Oldcorporal

    Pickaninny — any ninny! Once again blacks are looking for excuses to feel “put upon” and “discriminated against.” And what was that one comment about “The White kids went to school early but the black kids had to stay to work the fields”?! My dad grew up on an Indiana farm, “working the fields” with my grandfather every day of his life. In the early spring of his freshman year in high school, Grandpa made Dad quit school early to help with the spring plowing and planting. He returned to school next fall, having been held back because he’d missed too many days his freshman year. The next spring, Grandpa did the same thing, causing Dad to miss enough days that he was to be held back as a freshman AGAIN, at 16 years old! Dad was disgusted by this time, and quit school altogether. So the “poor blacks” think they’re the only ones who ever had it hard, huh? HA! What a bunch of pampered crybabies!

    • Alexandra1973

      From looking at census records I see that plenty of my own ancestors had farms, and no doubt worked on them.

  • TruthBeTold

    Put a black kid on the poster and it’s the wrong kid and it looks racist.

    Don’t put a black kid on the poster and blacks complain they’re excluded.


      Race relations, 2015.

    • bilderbuster

      They always complain so just exclude them.

  • cherrie greenbaum123

    Yep, those three look like real racist KKK folk. They obviously meant this poster as an affront to the negro community. Probably even have a negro lawn jockey parked out on their front lawns. Evil racists!

    • Capn Dad

      I do!

      • John Smith

        I don’t want anything that reminds me of them.

    • Charles Martel

      They look gay. The reason black churches are so against gay marriage is that they don’t want 2 deadbeat dads in one family.

  • David Ashton

    Enoch Powell was castigated for using the p-word. It used to be a pleasant description of the happy little black kiddies with their big grins.

    • IstvanIN

      Back in the 1960s that is what we called little colored kids. It wasn’t meant as a pejorative any more than colored was.

    • Alden

      Actually it is a version of the African western Bantu language word for a child between age 1and 4. The Africans brought it, like many words to America.

  • evilsandmich

    Pickaninnies – yet another word that would have died out had blacks and their white SJW enablers not rushed to perform CPR on it so that they could continue to take offense.

    • dukem1

      Pickaninnies….is that worse, better or even than being a called hillbilly?

  • Caucasoid88

    I love the word ‘piccaninny.’ I try to use it at least once a day.

    • Alexandra1973

      I think it sounds kind of cute, in a way.

      • dukem1

        ‘Cept for the fact that the modern-day picaninny may have a Glock jammed into the waistband of his sweatpants.

      • Caucasoid88

        Yeah, like something you’d name your dog.

        • John Smith

          I prefer Guy Gibson’s dog’s name better….

  • SaggyGenes

    “These things were really a reality. I was there,” she said. “We’re gotten past that and you think they have too and then something brings the remembrance of the past back to us.”

    Going bananas over a harmless poster is not the reaction I’d expect from someone who has “gotten past that.”

    • bilderbuster

      There’s no such thing as “getting past that”.
      Our people can never get along with them.
      Everyone hates them and Whites are the only ones foolish enough to attempt living among them as equals.

    • anony

      “Going bananas”? that’s bees raciss talkin, ya’ll.

    • kikz2

      i’ve known Black women who collected pick-a-ninny objet d’art of all kinds, dolls, porcelain.. they loved it.

  • Triarius

    Blacks can’t boycott and they know it, that is why they never will. In fact, they do the exact opposite, they “sit in”.

  • Race Heretic

    “It’s as if they wanted to remind us of years ago when the strawberry fields were full of black families picking strawberries.”

    Why is this such a problem? Why not love and cherish the history of your people, if sometimes awful, that enabled your present existence? Black children DID pick strawberries in the field. That they did doesn’t strip them of human dignity.

    • bilderbuster

      They can’t reason like White people.

    • HE2

      Black children DID pick strawberries in the field

      So did I. Strawberries and many other crops.
      Also rode horseback herding cows into the barn for milking, mucked out stalls and pigpens, killed alfalfa eating barn rats twice a year on rat killing day, fed and watered livestock large and small, picked peaches, knocked almonds, plus, performed many other scut jobs considered beneath our sensitive micro-aggressed on negroes. I am proud of these things, they are part of my history and who I am. It is called being a farm girl; everybody works.
      Sheesh. Get over it, negroes.

  • Whirlwinder

    Blacks are always crying about something,aren’t they.

    • Alexandra1973

      Well, that’s why the NAACP stands for Negroes Are Always Causing Problems.

      • gemjunior

        That is the best thing I have heard all day. Thanks for the laugh, and I can guarantee that I will be pointing out the proper meaning of the NAACP to anyone who will listen…

      • John Smith

        I’ve heard “Negroes Are Actually Colored Polacks,” but that’s unfair to Poles.

        • Alexandra1973

          Half Polish here! LOL

          I’ve heard my share of Pollack jokes too. I just blow it off.

  • Tim_in_Indiana

    Just leave blacks out of all posters, advertising, artwork and television shows. That way, you won’t have to worry about hurting their delicate sensitivities. Nor will you always have to make the white character the dumb one to avoid implying that blacks might somehow be less intelligent on average than other races. That’s the only way to solve this problem.

    • Alden

      Then they rant and rave that they are excluded. In the 1950s NAACP had 2 campaigns going at once. First was get rid if the popular black Amos and Andy show and forcing toy manufacturers to make more black dolls.
      Then a few years after the successful ban on Amis and Andy NAACP was demanding and suing for the return if the black sit com

      Anything to complain about to keep the grants coming.

  • Robert Smith

    It would be nice to have a list of things that blacks are boycotting so I know which ones to attend.

    • John Smith

      At least they’d be safe.

  • Robert Smith

    My goodness, that’s infinitely better than they look in real life. Wow!

  • UncleSham

    If this image gets Blacks to boycott I think we might start to see a trend. Festivals and events all over the country will be using this type of imagery as an alternative to paying for security.

  • Keep Honkin, I’m Reloading


    I can’t help but chuckle every time I see that word.

  • MrC

    Oh good, now I have even more reasons to go to the Ponchatoula Fest. Not that I ever miss it anyway, but still.

  • Alden

    Maybe there is something to the Islamic prohibition on representative art, just designs. Always remember that the entire budget of the NAACP comes from our taxes and tax exempt donations From SPLC and ACLU to the colleges and even pro gay clubs in high schools there are literally millions of White haters paid by our taxes to hunt us down and destroy us Personally I have never seen the attraction of pictures of blacks anywhere, even on a box of rice or pancake mix

  • John Smith

    The real crime here is they didn’t show enough of the pretty white chick in order to give some imaginary negroid images center-stage.

  • Tim

    Poteet Texas is laughing its @$$ off…

  • Hilis Hatki

    So, they objected because they wanted “whiter” black people on the poster?

  • ElComadreja

    Damned if the black kids around here didn’t look like that when I was growing up.

  • FozzieT

    “Then a couple of hours later someone posted, ‘Am I the only one
    cringing a bit here?’ followed by another ‘I don’t like this at all.’”

    Guarantee you that these first commenters were PC Whites, not blacks.

  • Power2Glory

    Why on Earth use a picture like this to advertise? They must have known it stir up a hornets nest.

    Whilst I couldn’t care less what race hustlers think about anything, sometimes you have to use some common sense.

    • Charles Martel

      Maybe they tried to be inclusive.

  • LiberalismFailed

    “No.” This is how you deal with those in the racial grievance industry. Example: “We want you to remove the painting because it’s…..” “No.” Don’t talk about “sensitivity” or “feelings.” Just say “No.”

  • Blacks are spirits from another world.

  • Jedediah Morningside

    The lawn jockeys are too expensive, but still available.

  • NowhereTearsOfHonor

    The tar babies on the poster appear to have no eyes.

  • Germanicus

    The argument is that for six days they work, and on the seventh day thhey rest. As far as it goes this psrt of theie argument is not inconsistent. Whites will be punished for any resistance to the attempt to scrub history of whites: blackwashing if you will. Whites must decide now if they will fight their own genicidal extermination or not. The evidence is thrre to support this picture. These stories help but we can read these stiries into oblivion if we do not take action. Enough Blacks, worldwide and invading White nations, now believe that Whites must be dominated, reduced or eliminated if they are going to be able to flourish. I did not believe that, but the Obama phenomenon makes the picture clear: non-White hatred and desire fir vicious retribution is clear. Do you remember his campaign remark about payback? This is no joke. This is not to be ignored. They will back this up with physical force to establish their rule when it is possible to do so. Who will best rule the world with peace and justice? You must decide. Your decision must involve right action.

    • Germanicus

      Many keypad typos, but most impotantly, it’s “genOcidal,” of course. That is the key word in my comment. Sadly, the friendliness of non-Whites must be viewed suspiciously. Leftist handlers and a sufficient number if third world non-Whites were merely biding their time. I so wish that we did not have to cross this analytic watershed. I believe that there were Blacks and
      Whites that were well intentioned and sincere in their hope for a posutive future together. I do not believe that they, or “we,” are to be faulted for that. It was a humane, Christian hope–even if we were being manipulared. But now, that hope is gone. The well-intentioned cannot turn the tide of the broad, and now most certainly manipulated, movement to infiltrate, invade, out reproduce, subjugate and kill Whites under the narrative of “Just Retribution & the Imperative of Eliminating Whites for the Survival of Non-white.” It us indeed sad that it has come to this.