It's easier to find a Father's Day card with an animal on it than a Black dad

As I walked into the well-known card shop, I expected I would be out again quickly.

I just wanted to buy a Father’s Day card for my dad, after all.

But what should have been a simple task proved otherwise.

Out of over 100 cards in store, not a single one of them had a Black person on it. Not in the Father’s Day segment, nor the birthday, sympathy or new job sections.

I was very disappointed and felt thrown off by the fact not a single card was relatable to me. In that moment, I wanted to walk out the shop.

What was even more frustrating was that this was in London, which has a hugely diverse community with around 40% Black and ethnic minorities. Were we all invisible?

Deflated, I settled on something plain – a bog standard card that did nothing to represent my family or my culture,

Today, the struggle remains. Even now, over a decade on, I’m far more likely to find a greetings card featuring an animal pretending to be a human than a Black person.

With all the talk over the years of diversity and inclusion, why has this not changed?

I’m now the proud father of a 10-year-old girl and just like for my dad, I’ve had to buy her generic cards. Every birthday, I feel sad that I have not been able to easily find one featuring a Black girl.

It’s something she’s noticed too and I remember, aged nine, her asking why. I was frustrated as I genuinely had no answer for her.

After that, I made sure that every year I would definitely get her a card with a Black girl on it. These cards were recommended to me by a friend on Instagram. There was no website, so I had to send a direct message to place my order by sending money to their PayPal. It was a simple process however it made me doubt whether the card would arrive or not.

It was heartwarming seeing her reaction though, especially when she said, ‘Dad, she’s got hair like me’, with a smile on her face.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when last month, I was able to give a friend a wedding card with a Black couple on the front that I found in a Black marketplace pop up in Brixton.

I was happy because it very much felt like the card was made specifically for the couple.

But just how rare this is shines a light on the lack of progress being made.

This issue isn’t exclusive to Father’s Day, birthdays or even greeting cards, either. As recently as 2020, my childhood friend Nathaniel Wade and I were scouring the high street to find a Black doll for his baby girl.

Surprise. No success.

It was clear, representation of different communities and cultures was missing on the high street – and it was this common frustration that drove Nathaniel and I to launch Wakuda in 2020.

Wakuda is an online marketplace where shoppers can discover unique, quality products that you won’t find on the high street, sourced entirely from the Black community.

We set up to help shoppers who want to find products that either resonate with them or their culture at ease. We provide shop fronts for Black retailers that have had their amazing products consistently rejected by high street retailers in favour of less diverse stock.

There is a big range of Father’s Day cards that can be found. Some are funny, others cultural, and there are even cards with pictures of fathers playing with their little boy or girl. Different relatable moments are found on these cards, which makes these feel extra special.

I don’t understand why more brands haven’t realised how important representation is yet.

According to The Black Pound Report, 59% of multi-ethnic consumers are likely to spend with a brand that has an inclusive range. Not only that, but eight out of 10 would recommend that brand to friends – so there’s really no reason for brands not to feature a diverse community amongst its ranges in store or online.

This Father’s Day and beyond, card retailers need to be more aware that there is a whole demographic they’re missing out on when it comes to customers. We all want to feel included, especially when buying gifts for family and friends.

It would be ideal to know you can pop into your local card shop at any time, even if it’s last minute, and pick out a card you know is going to completely resonate with your giftee.

Being able to purchase something that truly represents someone makes that gifting experience so much better, especially when it comes from someone they love and value.

To feel seen is a basic human need we should all have fulfilled. Whether it’s on a card, or any other product, it makes a huge difference. It’s how we can truly move towards an inclusive society.

You can find out more about Wakuda here

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