Are Band-Aids Racist?
Building the Better Band-Aid
Graphic By: Jenn Peterson

I acted in a play last semester, and my character wore a wedding ring. The ring was an all-purpose theatre prop and turned out to be a bit too large for my skinny fingers. Several band-aids were wrapped through the ring in order to give it a snug fit. We used band-aids instead of tape because the color blended with my skin. But that got me thinking. Would we have used band-aids if I werenít white?

Recently I made visits to several local pharmacies and grocery stores in search of multi-cultural band-aids. What I discovered made me uncomfortable. Each storeís almost identical adhesive bandage section displayed about thirty different products, almost none of which could be considered multi-cultural. Of these thirty, there were maybe four products (not counting the Pokemon and camouflage bandages) that could feasibly be used by a non-Caucasian. They were transparent.

Isnít this a blatant example of institutionalized racism? Why do the majority of these products cater to Caucasian skin tone? It could be argued that this is a predominately white region, but a rapidly growing percentage of America is not Caucasian. Regardless, national corporations manufacture almost all of these products specifically for whites. It seems like quite an imbalance, considering that the very same stores that I visited catered to various ethnicities through goods such as magazines and hair care products. Why should band-aids be any different?

This issue has been addressed in the past, which makes it that much more disturbing to realize that almost nothing has changed. Iím sure a few people at this university are old enough to remember the old Crayola sets that contained the infamous "flesh" colored crayon. That "color" was changed from "flesh" to "peach" in 1962 when Crayola admitted that flesh came in more than one color.

It is past due for the same thing to be done with the "flesh" colored band-aids. Iím not suggesting that there be a box of bandages for the entire skin-tone spectrum. Iím only wondering why they need to be skin-colored at all. They already make the transparent variety, and that looks good no matter what color or hue you happen to be.

This, like everything else, comes down to a personal choice. From now on, you can do your part by buying only clear band-aids, regardless of your race. Besides, does that "peach" color really match your skin better than a transparent bandage could?

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Name: dr frank
Year: jr
Major: MIS
you have wayyyy too much time on your hands. I hope I speak for the masses both black and white and who cares about the color of a band aid?

Name: DevilFanFacesWryJeer

Name: the subterreanean
Britney Spears...give me a break....that is so funny...HA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHA::points and laughs::HAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHA ::laughs so hard his sides hurt:: HAHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHAAHAHAH:: laughs like he's hearing truman capote recite the gettysburg address::HAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Name: Brittany Spears
Year: does not apply
Major: HS graduate
Personally, I think that this is a disgrace...I mean, come on, this article made me want to purge. Someone needs to get real talent and write some articles that make some sense. ok, for you fans out there, thanks for buying my single baby one more time and my follow up, oops i did it again...please visit my hitmybABYone more BUT dont' just hit it once, keep coming back. love, brit

Name: Bob
Year: post-grad
Major: Math
The author asks, thoughtfully, "Isn't it [the absence of dark colored band-aids] a blatant example of institutionalized racism?" For my money, it may be an example of institutional indifference, but I don't think it could be said to be racist. I am pleased that the author demonstrates such a concern for the injustices that people of color suffer when they are invidiously discriminated against. I would note, however, that not every example of discrimination is invidious, and some are even benign. When band-aids were called "band-aids" without concern for the copyright protection of the name -- i.e., many years ago -- the persons who made them, and who were responsible to stockholders to make a profit, certainly never thought of the persons who were being overlooked. They thought of the market, and that market included too few who would have opted to pay the extra cost of colored band-aids, and thus offered too little prospect of profit, I would guess. That kind of indifference may be ignorant, ignoble, ungenerous, but it's not racist. The world is a better place, I think, because there are people like the author who care about these matters, but an overweening concern is patronizing, and thus not necessarily flattering to the persons whom you would protect. Having said that, I am surprised that no entrepreneur has tried to make a market for dark-hued band-aids. I bet there is indeed a market out there, and people of color deserve band-aids that blend.

Name: jeff
I don't know...the article made me laugh. I am not sure what Dave's purpose here was, to create awareness or make fun of overzealous integration (even though the latter sounds rather appealing). It's just a band-aid, right? To some people it might not be. Dave may be speaking for more people than we think.

Name: Chris Brock
Major: Comp Sci
Personally, your artical seems like a complete waste of time. and reading it made me want to vomit and mutilate myself. but then if i did mutilate myself i would require a bandaid and i'd have to go and reach for my "peach" band - aids and my BROWN marker, so that i could change the color to match my islander lookin skin. buying a box of bandaids and then a box of crayons or markers would solve the problem imediately i think :)... as the guy who gave us the history of band aids go spread the word and DONT CUT YOURSELF

Name: The Shape
I find it ridiculous to make a fuss over something as the color of a band aid and mix it in with types of racism. In the scheme of things does it really matter? With all the problems in the world I still find it shocking at some of the things people complain about.

Name: A white guy
Major: Useless Knowledge
In 1920, Earle Dickson sold a concept to the Johnson brothers (a trio of chemical loving brothers named Johnson), that Dickson created by necessity. You see, Dickson's wife, Josephine was extremely accident prone. She constantly seemed to be cutting her fingers with those darn sharp kitchen knives.

But the problem was that the Johnson brothers only made bandages small enough for gaping flesh wounds, not tiny nics and scratches. Josephine would look ridiculous witha bandage wrapped around her finger just to treat a simple cut.

Dickson decided to affix small pieces of the sterile gauze to the center of strips of surgical tape. He mentioned what he had created to the Johnson brothers and was encouraged to approach management with the idea. The Johnson brothers formed Johnson and Johnson (did ya see that coming?). Dickson's invention- really a creation out of necessity, became what we know of as the band-aid.

The intention of the band-aid was functional. Stop the bleeding. Hide the cuts. True, a patient with dark skin would stick out like a sore thumb with a "peach" colored band-aid. What can be done, though? There is a different tone in everyone's skin. I'm not caucasian either. I hate that term. I'm white.

Anyhow, band-aids look retarded on me too. I think that's the point. Might as well go out in style with a Peanuts or Sesame Street model. Nothing brings on more sympathy than having Cookie Monster on your arm.

"If you gotta go....go with a smile!"