Friday, 6 February 2009

Carol Thatcher and The Golliwog


Carol Thatcher has been sacked from the BBC One show after a private conversation with BBC colleagues in the Green Room in which she described a tennis player at the Australian Open as a "Golliwog". As a result many have called in to complain about the BBC's 'harsh' reaction to Miss Thatcher and feel that the BBC has over reacted. You know, political correctness gone mad.

Sifting through the letters section of the Telegraph a lady stated: 

'Would Miss Thatcher have been sacked if she had referred to a white, woman celebrity as a "Barbie", a stereotypical depiction of a white western woman that some feminists find offensive'

In the Daily Mail a man remarked: 

'To me the worst kind of "Racist" is the one who looks for the offense in remarks where none were intended. They now infest public life, like a cancer. As an ex police officer, I am well aware of what drives the police service now. "Diversity" is now more important than serving the public and protecting the public. I often wonder how the ordinary Brit (if there are any left) will continue to put up with the mess of PC, Diversity, health and safety and all the over "isms". Time for a revolution!!!'

In order to understand the offense surrounding the term Golliwog we must understand its roots. The Golliwog has often been used as a negative caricature of Black people. At the time when the Golliwog was introduced in 1895 many parts of Africa and the Caribbean were under British colonial rule and just 30 years beforehand the legal end of slavery had been declared. However, Black people still suffered inhumane racism, prejudice and many were still treated as slaves and property.  The 1895 book, "The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwog" first describes the "Golliwog" as "a horrid sight, the blackest gnome". But later was known for being a friendly character and a suitable soft toy for children.

The lady i quoted earlier suggests that the Golliwog is on a similar par with the Barbie as if Barbie only makes white dolls. Unlike Barbie the Golliwog and the Minstrel character that came as a result were used to reinforce negative and racist images and attitudes of Black people worldwide. An actual toy or reference to a toy may seem harmless to those who are ignorant about its past. The sad thing is Thatchers remarks has revealed that many in England suffer severe doses of ignorance. When Prince Harry wore a swastika armband to a friends fancy dress party he was rightly chastised by the media and public alike. He accepted that it was wrong and in bad taste and issued a public apology.  Carol Thatcher issues a "dignified silence".

The ex policemen i quoted questions if there are any "ordinary Brits left" and feels that it "is time for a revolution" (scary talk, i wonder what he means by revolution). What Carol Thatcher said was insensitive, ignorant and showed a lack of history and compassion. However, the biggest shock is it has revealed that despite the 'multicultural' and 'diversity' rhetoric, many in England are unwilling to shake of the negative aspects of British history and move forward to an era of racial tolerance and respect. Although we have come so far it has been shown that we have much further to go.

The fact is that many in England are showing that they have not yet woken up to the the fact that colonialism is long over and we live in an era of globalisation where in order to survive we must work with different people and learn to respect different cultures. Referring to someone as a Golliwog even in private is unacceptable regardless, even more so when it is the child of an ex Prime Minister who should know better and the BBC for once acted accordingly in removing her from her role. 

4 comments:

  1. It's been an interesting week to work on a national newspaper to say the least. The BBC were right, Carol Thatcher wrong. And for the right-wing media to find the most tenuous of reasons to rush to her defence is quite frankly predictable, disgusting, and an offence to their black readers and employees. Only The Times, and The Guardian offered a balanced coverage of the issue, and made a point of seeking out black writers to give their opinions. All of the others carried diatribes by white writers who themselves declared that THEY didn't find it offensive. Made me SO angry!
    Last year I went to seaside in Hastings, and in the window of one shop there was a big Golliwog for sale - I took a picture as I couldn't believe it. When I see things like that it immediately makes me feel unsafe.

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  2. Hey Goldilocks,

    I am shocked to hear that Golliwogs still exist and can be purchased so easily!!! I would feel intimidated if i went to an area where they were stocked. Its annoying when i read articles saying there harmless and there only a toy because it feels like people do not understand the importance of the history behind it. I hope though that this kind of dialogue educates at least some of those people who were ignorant before that just because they don't feel offended does not mean that others won't.

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  3. Hey Agnes,

    I agree fully with what you have written. It is just a shame that we continue to see cases like this. It's 2009 now! People should know better.
    I commend the BBC for the actions they decided to take and hope Ms Thatcher has learnt her lesson (although I highly doubt it.)

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  4. Sticks and stones. You're pathetic.

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