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Target is receiving major backlash for a series of in-store ads featuring white models for the new Annie For Target collection. Annie, which hit theaters on Christmas day is played by Black actress Quvenzhané Wallis.

The Change.org petition calls for Target  to apologize for being “utterly disrespectful” to ‘Annie” star Quvenzhané Wallis. The petition also calls for Target to remove the in-store ‘Annie’ ads.

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The petition states:

Your recent Annie ads and in-store displays depicts a misleading depiction of the movie as it shows a Caucasian young lady [as] opposed to the star of the film- Quvenzhané Wallis. Though the model is quite professional, she does not speak to the relevance of the movie or main character. When the original Annie came out, everything was about Aileen Quinn or a character/person that emulated her…why not now Target? If you can show it online, show it in ALL of your stores with multiple signage with different girls not one!

“In the current stench of racism and division amongst Americans, why would Target singlehandedly disrespect Quvenzhané Wallis and add more pain to injury as it relates to race relations?” “Being African American is not ugly, it is not bad and we are sellable!” “These grossly misleading ads are adding to the divide and does not give young African American girls aspiring to become actors anything to be optimistic about. Please show more diversity within your stores and depict a variety of races as you did with your online ads. Everyone does not have access to internet- plus the younger fans may not be allowed to use internet.”

“Although Annie is a fictitious character, there has been a major uproar from protesters stating that they would not support the movie due to the star being African American.” “Is the reason why Target maliciously hid Quvenzhané Wallis or refused to use an African American girl to depict Annie in their ads?”

The petition was created L’Sean Rinique Shelton after she had to reassure her daughter who is a huge Annie fan that she was beautiful following a trip to the retail chain, where the in-store Annie ads featured white girls.

Annie star Quvenzhane Wallis

Annie star Quvenzhane Wallis

Target has since responded to the petition, which has garnered nearly 12,000 signatures, and insists that the campaign features young women from a variety of races and backgrounds.

“Girls from a variety of backgrounds were featured within the campaign, reflecting that anyone can embody the spirit and character of Annie.“ As for the involvement of Quvenzhané Wallis, we had conversations with her team about being in the campaign, but ultimately it did not come to fruition,” Target stated. “Fortunately, we had the pleasure of working with Ms. Wallis a number of times, including appearances at Target’s sales meeting in September and a launch event in New York City in November. We had a great experience working with Ms. Wallis and appreciate her efforts in promoting this collection.”

The creator of the Change.org petition has since posted Target’s response, as well as her own reaction to the company’s statement.

“Clearly I can see the ads with the African American girl in them, that is great! However, who wore the Red Dress and Locket? Annie! Every photo with the red dress has beautiful girls…just not our girls.”  “Also, EVERY Target Nationally does NOT display the diverse ads in each store which has been confirmed by dozens of consumers Black, White, Spanish etc.- that is a problem! Some say that I am whining, some say its race baiting, I call it bringing it to Americas attention that things should be done much better. That’s all.”

Check out more images from the Annie for Target Collection in our gallery.

Image credits: Target

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