White babies only

BLACK people don't have babies.That seems to be the view of the Suffolk greeting card industry which does not make or sell 'new baby' cards with black babies on.

BLACK people don't have babies.

That seems to be the view of the Suffolk greeting card industry which does not make or sell 'new baby' cards with black babies on.

The bizarre situation has been highlighted by a Suffolk grandmother who was unable to find a new-born baby greeting card featuring a black child - 20 years after her daughter found exactly the same problem.

Vera Fleming 69, from Rands Way, Ipswich, attempted to buy the card for her granddaughter who was born on February 15.

However, card stores in the town featured only pictures of white babies.

Mrs Fleming said: "There are a lot of black people in Ipswich - that's a fact, and I'm sure they'd do a roaring trade. The cards only have pictures of little pink babies."

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Widower Mrs Fleming was married to Lenford Fleming, a black man. And it was their eldest daughter, Lorraine Christie, who wrote to the Evening Star nearly 20 years ago, complaining that she couldn't buy a similar card for her sister's new baby.

She explained that she doesn't think the problem stems from any prejudice though: "They just don't bother - it's not racism. They don't think about these things, which is a shame."

"You can get them in London and Liverpool," said Mrs Fleming, who is originally from Merseyside.

"It's the same with all cards - none feature black people."

Mrs Fleming, who has nine children and 25 grandchildren, is retired but is involved with St James Church on Landseer Road.

The Evening Star contacted eight card manufacturers and stockists in Suffolk - none of them produce or sell cards with black children on but only three were prepared to comment on the issue.

Beverley Cunningham, marketing director at Abacus Cards, a card manufacturer based near Newmarket, said: "Most baby cards don't feature babies on the front." She continued: "We try not to make things too specific. Most of the cards feature teddies, flowers or illustrations of prams."

Sarah Deacon, employed in the marketing department at card retailer Birthdays, which has stores across Suffolk, said it was something they would give further thought to: "The idea is something we'll consider in the future."

John Clement, chairman of Ipswich card manufacturers Holyoak Publishing, said: "We don't have black babies on cards, but we do produce a brown teddy bear range."

Director of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality, Samuel Budu, said: "I believe things are changing. With time, it will come on board. If you go to London, where the population is very diverse, things are different."

"It's about the economy," he added, "does it make economical sense?"

Mr Budu explained that in recent years, ethnic products have become more commonplace as the demand has increased: "You find food in supermarkets which is not European but is of Indian or African origin."

N What do you think of this situtation? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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