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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

Results of Loewen’s Attempts at Catalog Reform

When I wrote them, Skymall told me to buzz off.  So I wrote USAir, now American Airlines, because I’d picked up my most recent Skymall catalog on their flight. They sent me a form letter that assured me they were an “Equal Opportunity Employer,” which had nothing to do with what I’d written about. Another company explained that they didn’t hire models but used their own employees; since they were located in an all-white town, probably a sundown town, to their mind that eliminated their responsibility to use diverse images. But Banana Republic replied that they hadn’t given it much thought, sent me a gift certificate for $25, and said they would change their policy. Paul Frederick (men’s shirts) pointed out that they only used three or four models in each catalog. I had happened to get a catalog that was all-white, but others were 25% black, depending on which models they had hired for that issue. I apologized and bought some shirts. Still another company replied to tell me they would rethink their policy, though they didn’t send me a gift certificate.