Steve Bogart,

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What's wrong with 'Indian Red'?

Crayola's being craven

March 11, 1999

Crayola is inexplicably renaming their indian red crayon:

  • Crayola Parents Page [Crayola]
    We've received feedback that some kids incorrectly believe this color name represents the skin color of Native Americans.

    The fact is, indian red was never intended to represent anyone's skin color. The name originated from a pigment, used by fine artists in oil paints, commonly found near India. But the fact that some people are confused is reason enough for us to rename the crayon.

    This is only the third time in Crayola history that we've changed a crayon color name. In 1958, Prussian Blue was changed to Midnight Blue because teachers said students were no longer familiar with Prussian History. In 1962, Flesh was changed to Peach in recognition that everyone's skin is not the same shade.

The fact that some people are confused should NOT be a reason to rename an accurately-named crayon! It might well be sufficient reason to include some information inside a crayon box on where certain crayon names come from so as to eliminate confusion (or even be, gasp, educational), but renaming the crayon is ludicrous.

Heck, they could even go back to using Prussian Blue and explain the derivation on the same paper scrap they explain indian red on. Might be edifying.

(I have no problem with the renaming of the Flesh crayon. That was a poor and inaccurate name for that crayon. But this situation is nothing like that.)

There is more than one meaning to the word "Indian".

Crayola is using the word in the most-widely-approved way.

So where, I say where, is the problem?

If Americans have trouble figuring out that there's a whole country called India, and things relating to it are properly called 'Indian', that's their problem, not Crayola's.

Honestly. This is like accommodating the sensibilities of flat-earthers.

I voted for 'indian red' as the new name...won't you?

-- Steve Bogart,

Last modified on 3/12/2002; 9:48:21 PM Eastern 
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