Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Are Gollywogs racist? or indeed racist?

There is a storm in Sussex about the sale of golliwogs, which some people complain are racist.

You can see the video report from South East today here.

You will note that one of the shopkeepers selling them is himself of Afro Caribbean origin.

Let us get this straight. A golly wog is a rag doll, that happens to be of Afro Caribbean appearance (well some parts of Africa any way as there are many racial groups there).

Is it wrong to sell a rag doll of Caucasian appearance? If not, what is wrong with one of Afro Caribbean appearance?

Offence is often in the eye of the beholder in much the same way as beauty is. I wonder who finds them offensive, and if you are going to give a view, could you please state your own ethnic origin?

Update 22:00

I should add that I can see how people may find the name offensive (golly wog as opposed to golly doll)


CROWN said...

yeah but it's not just a doll of Afro Caribbean appearance - it's a caricature. I used to have one as a kid and I cringe at the photos. The doll just seems out of order. Like having a jewish doll with typically jewish features.

Ethnic Origin - as white as the white background of an ace of spades. White, english, christian, straight, conservative.

Benedict White said...

Crown, I take your point, but rag dolls are caricatures are they not? They are not exactly realistic.

youdontknowme said...

The politically correct crowd are always trying to stop people being offended even if no one is actually going to be offended.

If these people just shut up this country would probably be a lot better and we would be freer to speak our mind.

Disraeli said...

I don’t find the dolls offensive at all, but the name gives me shivers. I don’t think that “wog” is acceptable. However call them “Golly Dolls” and they are actually anti-racist in my opinion! They promote blackness as a good thing in my view.
I remember the Gollywog stickers on pots of jam, and how you could collect them and get an enamel badge. There were all sorts of badges that you could get - he could play every musical instrument and play every sport, and do loads of other things. He was definitely a friendly figure.
The big problem is the name, though.
(My own ethnicity BTW is Catholic Irish / White English, with a dash of Jewish a couple of generations ago. A great mixture, IMHO)

Robin Wiggs said...

A name is a name. A doll is a doll. No more, no less.

If you use the doll (or name) to cause or take offence, then that is clearly wrong. However a doll in and of itself is just that - a doll. Can we please stop being so bloody PC all the time.

As for Crown's comments - "a Jewish doll with typically Jewish features" seeming "out of order", what is wrong with something that reflects what is considered to be "typical"?

I used to play with Action Men figures - typically they were male, muscley, short haired and a kind of pinkish-white - because that reflected a "typical" British infantry-man at ethe time. No one seemed to worry about that or get offended - even by the model with only 3 intelligible phrases!

Let's all be a bit grown up about this PC baloney.

WASP last time I looked, but I don't think this is relevant to my opinion.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Seen some Gollywogs in the local market today ,with the card marked ethnic friends,we have kids killing each other ,drugs sold everywhere ,cops stuck in police stations ticking boxes and only coming out to chase motorists and we have to be pc ,sticks and stones come to mind

Anonymous said...

golliwogs are and always have been a childs toy, they do not represent any racial type,they were the baddies in childrens books.Its nonsense, like baa baa black sheep and all the other things that have offended left wing pc-ers who are ashamed to be English.How long before people with the surname Black have to change it to rainbow,because thats how ridiculous this whole PC thing is becoming. WASP

Anonymous said...

i have an afro caribbean friend. i asked him about gollywogs - he has problems with the name but not the dolls.

Robin Wiggs said...

anonymous at 4.07.

Does your "Afro Caribbean" friend (careful there, those terms could be considered offensive!) have trouble with using the name for well-known green amphibians?

I mean, after all, we have called the French "Frogs" for centuries. Maybe he should "have a problem" with that name too.

I'm a Limey, a Pom, a Sassenach, etc. Thankfully I have broad enough shoulders not to be offended by those names, nor by the pin-striped & bowler-hatted dolls sold by all those tourist stalls dotted aorund London.

All this is lefty PC claptrap - and its purveyors need to get a life.

Benedict White said...

Anonymous at 9;06, 23 August, interesting. In fact very interesting.

I always thought there would be a caveat or two to the theory of special relativity, however I am somewhat bemused that you raise it here?

Anonymous at 2.51, 23 of August. I have to say that I have read a bit about them in children's books and quite a few of the characters are either positive or very positive. Obviously some are not, but then that is balance.

Anonymous at 4:07 23rd August, I understand the offensiveness of the name. I wonder if we don't all need broader shoulders, but fair enough.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 9;06, 23 August, interesting. In fact very interesting.

I always thought there would be a caveat or two to the theory of special relativity, however I am somewhat bemused that you raise it here?

I raised it here because
a) I remember you said you were a physicist
b) I couldn't see a topic coming where it would not be OT, so I thought, - do it anyway.

About 20+ years ago I remember an experiment at the particle accelerator.
Particles were accelerated, and smashed into other particles.
Two particles exited, at 180 degrees to each other, at the speed of light. One of the particles was then subjected to a powerful magnetic field, which altered its direction.
Immediately the other particle altered its direction to exit from the other at a new angle to keep the 180 degrees exit angle.
This was hailed at the time as subluminal communication. (Communication at faster then the speed of light speed).
Based on my own knowledge, I would say that there is an overall geometry, a subsystem underlying the physical world, at variance, but interleaved into the quantum world, that researchers are missing. (The particle that changed direction was obeying the laws of that geometry.) Could be viewed perhaps as harmonics of frequencies, but possessed of other physical attributes.
But, hey, this is not the place, and what do I know, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I'll correct myself.
Two particles exited at 180 degrees to each other, EACH AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT.

Benedict White said...

Anonymous at 11:55 23 of August,:

"I raised it here because
a) I remember you said you were a physicist"

Well, I have studied physics, yes.

"b) I couldn't see a topic coming where it would not be OT,"


Yes I can just about see that :)

I also remember long distance communication theories from the 1980's because some people had observed similar parallel motions across light years.

However I would point out that we have never had a particle on tis planet that has reached the speed of light, though we have had them up to 99.99% of it. However obviously if you could detect an interaction between two particles that you could show happened faster than the speed of light then theories would need to be re written.

Sir James Beiggelschwarz said...

i have a wonderful gollywog somewhere my mother made for me long ago. Don't know where the little fellow is now but I was thinking of putting a kippar and beard on him and making him Jewish.

Anonymous said...

what about a white Gollywog? that gets skin cancer now that will be fun