Colour number 26 has been called “flesh” in English and “hud” in Danish for 38 years, but when Lisbeth Lauritsen, a Social Democrat city councillor in Aalborg, sent an email pointing out the racist assumptions this entailed, the bead producer did not hesitate to make changes.
Lauritsen said the problem had struck while she was making designs with her children using the beads, which are laid out in a pattern and then fused together with a clothes iron.
“I wondered why it was, when I was making bead designs with my boys, that when they ask for 'flesh colour', they should get a colour that's a shade of light pink,” she told Denmark's TV2. “The racism debate is very current at the moment and I thought it was unjust.”
To her surprise, Hama complied shortly afterwards.
“Hama should not make anyone uncomfortable,” Hama's director, Lene Haaning, told the broadcaster. “Hama is about creative play, fun and learning. No one should feel offended by it.”
Lauritsen praised Hama in a post on Facebook last week.
“Hama has certainly followed in the debate about #blacklivesmatter and everyday racism, because they responded to my polite email that they will soon change their colour names. Isn't it great when manufacturers take responsibility for more than the design and content of their product. Thank you, Hama.”
Lauritsen told TV2 that such seemingly small changes were important in reducing the so-called 'everyday racism' in society.
“I think we underestimate — those of us with the most common skin tone in Denmark — how much this means to people. It's important to transmit the right values to our children. That's something I feel both as a politician and a mother.”
Here is a screen grab from Hama's current colour chart, showing the new (slightly misspelt) English naming.