A Walking Dead shirt with the words “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” has been pulled from sale this week after a couple in Sheffield, England complained that the children’s rhyme is racist. Primark’s decision to withdraw The Walking Dead shirt has left many peeved, including the actor associated with the words in the TV series, Jeffrey Dean Morgan who plays Negan.
Morgan took to Twitter on Wednesday to vent his frustration over the move. “Holy crap people are stupid,” he wrote.
Holy crap people are stupid. 'Walking Dead’ Shirt Pulled From Stores After Complaint of Racism https://t.co/cpeIqcxTwJ
— Jeffrey Dean Morgan (@JDMorgan) February 22, 2017
This walking dead t shirt was taken off store shelves because some idiot claimed it was a racial slur… wtf is wrong with our generation? pic.twitter.com/8KAu3aKpsu
— BIG D???? (@dylwill51) February 24, 2017
— mugsfrank (@mugsfrank_shirt) February 24, 2017
In the finale of the previous season of The Walking Dead, Negan uses the “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” rhyme in a chilling scene where he picks someone to kill from Rick’s group. The Walking Dead shirt, which also featured an image of Lucille, Negan’s blood-stained, barbed wire wrapped baseball bat, was apparently inspired by this gruesome scene.
According to the Sheffield Star, Ian Lucraft and his wife Gwen, who complained about The Walking Dead shirt, were shopping for a present for their grandson when they found the cloth with “racially explicit graphic and text.”
“It was fantastically offensive and I can only assume that no-one in the process of ordering it knew what they were doing, or were aware of its subliminal messages,” Lucraft said. “This image relates directly to the practice of assaulting black people in America.”
The controversy over the allegedly racially offensive Walking Dead shirt traces back to the early days of the song. While “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” is one of the most popular children rhyme songs, it has a racial twang. In some versions of the rhyme, which goes “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe/Catch a tiger by his toe/If he hollers, let him go,” the n-word is used to substitute “tiger.” The racially offensive version of this counting rhyme was reportedly popular in the US in the 19th century.
The debate over The Walking Dead shirt is not the first time in recent years that the use of “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” has been associated with racism. In 2004, two African-American sisters sued Southwest Airline claiming that one of its flight attendants offended them racially by saying “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe/ Pick a seat, we gotta go,” USA Today reported. A jury later ruled in a US District Court that the Southwest Airline flight attendant’s recital of the rhyme was not an act of discrimination.
Over the years, the racial undertones of “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” have been washing off as the rhyme has been used in songs and on the television. For example, Sean Kingston and Justin Bieber released a song titled “Eenie Meenie.” A line from the chorus of the song says “Shorty is a eenie meenie miney mo lover.” In the same song, Kingston says “Eeenie meenie miney mo/ Catch a bad chick by her toe/ If she holler let her go.”
Many fans on Twitter have argued that the opposition to The Walking Dead shirt is blown out of proportion. For what it is worth, Negan specifically recites the version of the rhyme that includes the word “tiger” and not the racially offensive one.
@Primark re The Walking Dead t shirt tempest in a tea pot. Man up! Grow a pair! 1 person manufactures outrage and you fold? Seriously?!????
— Kaye Morgan (@GarciaGirl03) February 24, 2017
#WalkingDead "racist" shirt shows how deranged racists make everything seem racist. EENY MEENY MINY MOE is, was and will never be racist!
— #NotInOurName (@robert7rafiki) February 24, 2017
As a black person sometimes I think people act stupid with political correctness. Complaints about Walking Dead shirt are stupid. #TWD
— Richard72 (@RichardCarlsen) February 24, 2017
There's homelessness and wars, but people stood up and got a #WalkingDead shirt pulled. Way to go ????
— Bobby Bradshaw (@BobbyFuria) February 24, 2017
In response to the complaint about The Walking Dead shirt, Primark has released a statement apologizing for any offense caused by the item, BBC News reported.
“Any offense caused by its design was wholly unintentional and Primark sincerely apologises for this,” the statement said.
At the moment, it is unclear if The Walking Dead shirt in question has been removed from the shelves worldwide or only in the UK.
Meanwhile, season seven of The Walking Dead is currently running on AMC. The horror TV series was in the news earlier this week after a UFO was spotted in the background of a scene.
[Featured Image by David Goldman/AP Photo]