Family and friends were aghast when it came time for the cake at a birthday party for a young girl. Outrage ensued when partygoers saw what the bakery wrote, and both grandma and mom were immediately offended, calling it “racist.” Was it? You decide.
LaMiya Tucker of the Cleveland, Ohio area was turning 6 years old, and her family wanted her to have the best birthday celebration possible. They invited her friends and ordered two cakes by phone from Dave’s Supermarket in Euclid. When it came time to dig in, however, they noticed one of the two cakes had a huge problem.
The first cake was fine, but the girl’s name was misspelled on the other. While any misspelling would be upsetting, this mishap appeared to be an intentional racial slur, according to the child’s grandmother Ronell Tucker and mother Ashely Hayes. But, was it? Not everyone thinks so. Some believe it was just a simple, albeit unfortunate, error, but Ronell said the major misspelling caused a lot of upset at the party.
“That was not right at all, and it really upset a lot of people at her party and her,” the angry grandmother said. So, what was the big deal? Rather than writing “LaMiya” in the icing, the decorator of the second cake had mistakenly written “LaNiga,” which CBS 58, along with the girl’s family, says is “a variation of the N-word.” Are they right?
According to Names Look and Name Echo, Laniga is a possible first name. What’s more, Ancestry.com has identified Laniga as a last name with “3,000 census records available.” It’s also the name of a clothing store that produces T-shirts, available for sale online, with a Facebook page featuring the allegedly offensive company name.
So, no, it’s not necessarily a racial slur. But, the question still remains, did the person who wrote it intend for it to be a racist insult? LaMiya’s family thinks so. “I was very upset and angry and it felt like racism to me cause how do you get one cake wrong and one cake right. You had to notice the mistake,” Ashely said.
While it’s unclear whether both cakes were decorated by the same person, Ashely does raise one good point. How did the mistake go unnoticed? We should ask the family this question too since most cakes boxes have a window. Of course, we can’t see the lid in the family-provide photo, but people usually check custom orders before paying to ensure everything is correct.
According to the family, no one noticed the error until Ashely was taking pictures at the party, she saw the “slur,” and began to cry because she was so upset. Rather than rush the insult out of sight, however, it was left where everyone could see it, including the kids and the 6-year-old birthday girl. The child and her young friends could allegedly read the word and knew what it supposedly meant too.
“All the other kids knew the words and they were like, ‘Ooh they put that on her cake,'” Ashley said. “We were all like in shock,” she added. She called the store about the mistake but claims things only escalated. “It’s no mistake with a ‘M’ and a ‘N’ and a ‘G’ and a ‘Y.’ It’s no mistaking. It really upset me,” she said.
When the local news called Burt Saltzman, the man who runs Dave’s Supermarket, he had a reasonable explanation that was backed up with the handwritten slip from the employee who took the phone order for the cake. “If you look at this ‘M’ could have been an ‘N’ and the ‘Y’ could have been a ‘G,'” Saltzman explained, adding that the bakery “had a bunch of cakes that day.”
As Ronell Tucker and Saltzman looked at the paperwork and discussed the possibilities, Saltzman offered an apology for the way the manager allegedly handled the situation, saying he could have handled it better, although no one really explained how he responded to the complaint in the first place. Regardless, LaMiya Tucker’s family seemed pleased with the outcome and accepted the apology.
Burt Saltzman of Dave’s deserves credit for not ducking the issue and the family also deserves some credit for eventually accepting that it was a mistake. As for the rest of us, this should serve as a reminder that a willingness to talk it out results in a better outcome and understanding than wrongfully running around accusing people of racism.
Not everything is about race. After all, the order was placed over the phone, so no one knew the child’s race, and we can’t ignore the fact that her grandmother, who addressed the issue with Saltzman, appears to be white. Had the family just taken the issue up the chain of command at the store, they would have been shown the order slip sooner and saw how the mistake was made without fueling the misconception that we live in an overtly racist society. Dave’s staff isn’t racist. They just have questionable handwriting.