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June 14, 2017

Skittles accused of racism, defended for colorless Pride Month candy

061517_whiteskittles Source/Skittles/Mars, Incorporated

In June, Skittles sells colorless candy in deference to Pride Month's claim over the brand's signature rainbow slogan.

Brands all around the globe are stepping up to embrace the celebration of Pride Month with special promotions and rainbow-inspired social media campaigns.

Nike released its annual "Be True" sneaker collection, Target rolled out its annual Pride merchandise and Instagram added colorful stickers and filters for the month of June, to name a few.

Skittles finds itself in something of an odd Pride Month predicament. For a candy whose slogan is "Taste the Rainbow," the simplest and safest approach might logically be to stand pat and give a hearty show of support for the LGBTQ community on social media.

But for the second year in a row, Mars, Inc. decided to roll the dice on a campaign that features limited edition all-white candies. The well-intentioned promotion is explained in the display shown below. 

Some on social media interpreted the gesture as a subtly racist misfire. 

Many others, sizing up the backlash as feigned outrage, were unwilling to feed into it and came to Skittles' defense. 

This isn't the first time Skittles — a candy you'd have to be missing a heart not to love — has landed in the middle of a controversy surrounding race and nationality.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a photo of a bowl of Skittles with a caption that read, "If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you three would kill you, would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”

There's a reason the image is no longer displayed in the tweet: the licensed photo was taken by a refugee who fled Cyprus during the Turkish occupation in 1974. The man, now living in Britain, said he'd never take Trump's money to use the photo.