Primark has removed one of their Walking Dead T-shirts after a single complaint. The T-shirt in question features the phrase used by Negan in the Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead which can be considered a racist phrase.
SPOILER ALERT: This article contains information about the Season 6 finale and Season 7 premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Please proceed with caution if you wish to avoid spoilers.
The Season 6 finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead saw Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) utter the children’s counting rhyme “Eeeny Meeny Miny Moe” to make his selection from the lineup of Walking Dead main characters. Then, in the Season 7 premiere, he bludgeoned Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) to death when the rhyme had ended and his selection was made.
As a result of one complaint in regard to the term used on a Primark T-shirt, the company has decided to pull the item on account of the racist slur that could be inferred.
In The Walking Dead, the version used of “Eeny Meeny Miny Moe” was a newer one, meaning the rhyme did not contain racist content, but the original version of the rhyme does. Originally, the rhyme contained the verse, “Eeny meeny miny moe, catch a n***** by the toe.” In recent years, the racist line has been replaced with the following.
“Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers, let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.”
As was the case in The Walking Dead Season 6 finale, the rhyme was further dragged out with the addition of the common extender, “My mother told me to pick the very best one, and you are it.” This version of the rhyme was also used in the comic books, the original source The Walking Dead TV series is based on.
The initial complaint that got the T-shirt pulled was made by Ian Lucraft, a Sheffield Methodist minister, when he and his wife visited the newly opened Primark store in Sheffield, England, according to The Star. When Lucraft encountered the T-shirt that not only has the slogan but an image of a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire, he addressed his concerns over it in a letter to Primark.
“The slogan is, ‘Eeeny meenie miny moe…’ It stops there, but of course we all know what the original said… The graphic has a large American baseball bat, wrapped round with barbed wire, and covered with blood. This image relates directly to the practice of assaulting black people in America. It is directly threatening of a racist assault, and if I were black and were faced by a wearer I would know just where I stood.”
When Paul Marchant, chief executive of Primark, received the letter, titled “Shocking Racist t-shirt in Primark,” he immediately took action and withdrew the T-shirt from their stores.
For many people, it was not until the T-shirt was pulled by Primark did they realize the racist slur, as was likely the case when the issue was raised with the store assistant Lucraft spoke to according to Scotsman. “I politely asked the young woman at the checkout if other people had questioned it, but she had not yet seen it as it was new stock,” Lucraft explained. “As we discussed it, she too was horrified.”
Many people in their 20s and 30s will only know the version that contains the word “tiger.” People in their 40s and 50s, however, would still probably know — or, at least, have heard of — the earlier, racist version. In fact, a variant on the racist version of “Eeny Meeny Miny Moe” has been recorded as being used as early as 1888 according to The Counting-Out Rhymes of Children: Their Antiquity, Origin and Wide Distribution (published by Kessinger Publishing).
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AMC’s The Walking Dead returns with Episode 11 (titled “Hostilities and Calamities”) of Season 7 on Sunday, February 19, at 9 p.m. ET. The official synopsis for Episode 11 is below.
“An outsider experiences The Sanctuary.”
[Featured Image by Gene Page/AMC]