Target: Backlash

Last Thursday, I wrote about Target's $150k contribution to MN Forward, a Republican front group run by former staff of outgoing Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty which actively supports anti-gay State Representative Tom Emmer as the GOP nominee to succeed Pawlenty. Target's CEO Gregg Steinhafel has been spinning like a record baby, right round round round, trying to justify the donation, but LGBQs and their allies aren't having it—and the backlash has begun, including a Facebook group called "Boycott Target Until They Cease Funding Anti-Gay Politics."

And Randi Reitan, a mother and grandmother from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, staged her own protest over the weekend by doing her regular shopping trip to Target, and then returning all the items, telling the manager why she bought each item, who it was for, and why they wouldn't want her giving her money to a store that supports institutionalized homophobia.

[Transcript below.]

For his part, Emmer, who supports the continued denial of LGBQs their equal rights, whines: "The sad part to me is, I thought we were supposed to be able to exercise our rights of free speech. We're supposed to celebrate the fact that we have different perspectives. And it doesn't seem like that's what this is about. This seems to be more personal and we've got to get over that."

No matter how many times I run headlong into it, I cannot wrap my head around the staggering fuckloads of unexamined privilege that allow someone to argue that denying people equality based on their intrinsic characteristics shouldn't be "personal."

[Footage of the exterior of a Target store, labeled "Target Store: July 27, 2010." Footage of a middle-aged white woman, Randi Reitan of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, holding a cut-up Target card in her hands, labeled "$226 Target sale ends like this." As the camera zooms in on the shredded card, she says, "Now I'll go home and call them and make sure that that card was cancelled. The camera cuts to Reitan's face as she stands outside the store. Across the bottom of the screen, the following text scrolls: "One woman's protest of a $150,000 contribution given by Target to a group supporting Tom Emmer's gubernatorial campaign."]

Reitan: Hi, I'm Randi Reitan, and I'm here today to go shopping at Target for the last time. I'm a mother, and I'm a grandmother, and I use Target a lot; I've enjoyed shopping at Target. But last week when I heard that Target decided to give a hundred and fifty thousand dollars to Tom Emmer for his political race for governor, I just [shakes head] was shocked. The Target I knew was a Target that embraced its gay employees. It was, um, the Target that showed up at Pride.

[Footage of Reitan walking into the store; pushing a red Target cart around; checking out with a cartful of items including laundry detergent and children's clothes; running her Target card through at check-out, labeled "The sale. $226 charged to Target card."; walking out of the store and swinging her cart around and walking back in, labeled "Merchandise returned in protest."; speaking to a Target employee, a young white woman, at the returns counter.]

Reitan: Um, you sponsored Pride in June— [edit] Every year, HRC has a wonderful dinner—

[Another Target employee, a middle-aged white woman, interrupts and says, "To take pictures at Target, you have to have, um, an approval." Reitan continues to speak to the other employee at the returns counter, waiting for the manager. Edit. Footage of Reitan returning items, followed by footage of her walking out of the store. Cut to Reitan standing outside the store.]

Reitan: It took a long time for the manager to actually come, uh, to visit with me, but I didn't want to return the items until she was there so she could see what I had purchased. I shared with her why I had bought each item, and who they were for, and why that person wouldn't want me to have bought them at a Target store. Um. A number of the items were for my grandchildren, and they love their Uncle Jake so much, and Jake is gay. And they wouldn't want to have things coming from a store [gets choked up; takes deep breath] that contrib— contributes to a campaign [pauses] that would have a governor candidate with the anti-gay views that Tom Emmer has.

[Cut to Reitan explaining the cut-up Target card in her hands.]

Reitan: —a pair of sewing scissors out of my purse, and I cut it up. [edit] Today I went in and I spent two hundred and twenty-six dollars and thirty-two cents. They've lost that two hundred, twenty-six dollars and thirty-two cents, and they've lost every purchase from my family. [edit] What's important in life is people. I love the people in my life. I love them more than any thing that I can buy at this store. I'm going to boycott Target until they make this right.

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