P&CC removes ‘homies’ vending machine

Three and a half years after controversy initially arose over the sale of tiny, plastic “homie” figurines, the dispenser in the P&CC that sold them has been removed.

The toys, which are models of people of a variety of ethnicities wearing urban clothing, were removed early last week due to a customer complaint, said P&CC head manager Andrew Lampard.

“It really wasn’t a big deal at all,” he said. “The person who came in was polite and concerned [about the toys].”

The toys are approximately two inches tall and according to their website, homies.tv, represent a group of “Chicano buddies” who grew up in a neighbourhood in East Los Angeles. They were first marketed in 1998, and now include 170 different figurines.

Darcel Bullen, ArtSci ’08, said she made the complaint to the P&CC because she didn’t think the toys were appropriate for the Univesrity.

“I initially made it because I was shocked that they would sell such racialized toys, that portrayed women in such an offensive way,” she said.

She said she was surprised to see the toys in the student-run service.

“I did a double take,” she said. “[I was surprised that] the P&CC as a student-run service would offer a $1 toy that oppresses a specific group of people.”

Lampard said that following the complaint, he and his managers made the decision to remove the toys.

“We researched [the product and] we found it offensive,” he said. “So we called our supplier and he came in the next day and changed it.”

Complaints about the toys had been raised previously in the fall of 2002 by a women’s studies professor.

At the time, P&CC head manager Andrew Ryder told the Journal that the professor called the toys racist.

Ryder chose not to remove them, Lampard said, adding he was not aware of the reason as he was not working there at the time.

Bullen said she was unaware of the previous controversy surrounding the toys prior to making her complaint.

The dispensers were not directly operated by the P&CC and were filled by an outside supplier, Lampard added.

“We don’t really monitor the dispenser,” he said. “It really had nothing to do with the store—its something that’s independent of us.

“We told our supplier [about our concern with the toys and] he was more than willing to change it.”

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