An Inclusive Litany

9/29/00

Officials in Warwick, Rhode Island, removed a six-foot-high tourist statue of Mr. Potato Head following complaints that it was racist because its skin was brown. The potato statue, one of a series placed around the city, sported a Hawaiian shirt, glasses, hat, a wide grin, and was supposed to have a suntan.

Onna Moniz-John, an East Providence affirmative action officer, complained because she thought the statue resembled antique figures depicting blacks as buffoons. She said it looked like the Little Black Sambo character because the clothes were too small. "If you look at this potato head, the only thing missing is a watermelon," Moniz-John said.

Artist Kathy Szarko of West Warwick, who designed "Tourist Tater," was surprised at the reaction. "He's a potato, that's why he's brown," she said.

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