By ROBERT PIERCE • Daily Leader
It’s a nationwide brand, but at least one local official believes the products the company sells are inappropriate.
Gena Burnett, director of the 26th Judicial District’s Juvenile Corrections and Prevention Services office, said the Homies brand of cards, now being sold at stores such as Wal-Mart and Dillon’s, are targeting young children and glorifying the gang lifestyle.
Burnett said she noticed Valentines cards sold by the brand recently at Wal-Mart, and the company sells other inappropriate products as well.
“They have these miniature figurines you can buy at the quarter machine at Dillon’s,” she said. “I’ve bought them in there several times, but they’re the same thing. They’re just little plastic figurines, and they’re called Little Homies.”
Burnett said the sale of the products is wrong, and it sets a bad example for young kids.
“That’s not what these kids want to grow up to be,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a cultural thing either. I think that it looks very gang-related to me.”
Burnett said she does not feel Homies is not trying to target the Hispanic culture with its products.
“I don’t think that at all. I think it’s glorifying gang lifestyles,”
she said. “There’s a lot of Hispanic people that do not look and dress that way.”
Burnett said while the cards seem to be popular in big cities, she has seen them a lot locally as well.
“I know I’ve seen a lot of the kids that I work with, and they have My Spaces,” she said. “Their backgrounds will be Little Homies. A lot of them will wear clothing that says Little Homies.”
Burnett said the message the cards are sending to grade school kids is that the gang lifestyle is cool.
“I don’t think that’s appropriate at all,” she said. “It’s not appropriate anywhere as far as I’m concerned.”
Burnett said she is not aware of any efforts being made to stop the sale and distribution of Homies products.
“That’s the first time that I’d ever seen them on Valentines cards,”
she said. “I buy them just to put them in my office. I just get them so little kids can’t. I myself have never tried to stop anything.”
Burnett said she would at the least like to educate the public about what is being sold.
“Wal-Mart may not even have a clue,” she said. “I know I can’t take on all of Wal-Mart. I just think I may not be able to stop Wal-Mart from selling it or Dillon’s, but at least parents should know that’s not really something you should let your children buy.”