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Target Faces Criticism Over Lack of Transparency in Profits from Black Quilters Collection

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Target Faces Criticism Over Lack of Transparency in Profits from Black Quilters Collection

Target is under scrutiny for its refusal to disclose earnings from its highly successful quilt collection inspired by Black quilters, raising questions about fair compensation for artists.

Despite the collection selling out in numerous stores, Target paid the Black quilters a flat rate, prompting accusations of exploitation and a lack of transparency.

The collection, launched in celebration of Black History Month, featured designs inspired by the rich heritage of Black quilters, particularly those from Gee’s Bend, whose ancestors were enslaved people.

These artists infuse their history into their creations, incorporating intricate geometric patterns and kaleidoscopic designs.

Sharbreon Plummer, an artist and scholar, highlighted the significance of the quilt revival, stating, “They’re so popularized, and Target knew that.

It created the biggest buzz when it came out.” However, despite the immense success of the collection, the quilters received no additional compensation beyond the initial flat rate.

Critics have drawn comparisons to the Freedom Quilting Bee of the 1960s, where all quilters were paid equally, receiving salaries and social security benefits.

Target’s compensation model has been described as manipulative, with concerns raised about the retailer’s control over the creative process.

Patricia Turner, a retired African American Studies professor, expressed her concerns:

“Every stage of the finances has been problematic. I’m really bothered by Target’s in-house designer manipulating the look of things to make it more palatable for their audience.”

This isn’t the first time the artistry of these quilters has been exploited. In the 1990s, a white art collector commodified their work, leading to legal battles.

Target’s decision to mass-produce the quilts in Chinese factories instead of utilizing local resources has also sparked controversy.

Despite the backlash, some quilters see the partnership with Target as an opportunity to reach a wider audience and potentially create livelihoods from their craft.

Target defended its compensation model, stating that each quilter was paid a discussed and agreed-upon fee for their services, with final design decisions made collaboratively.

While the partnership has its drawbacks, the quilters remain resilient, finding ways to expand their reach while staying true to their heritage.

The debate surrounding fair compensation for artists, particularly those from marginalized communities, continues to spark important conversations about ethics and accountability in the retail industry.

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