I loved my Golliwog when I was a child. I lived in Africa – black people were pretty common there. I never realised my Golliwog represented THEM.
I never realised my Golliwog represented THEM until I arrived in the UK. I discovered Golliwogs are evil, racist things. They represents BLACK PEOPLE! And the “wog” part of the name is a dreadful insult to those same people. I didn’t know that till I was entering old age!
I was unfortunately born a privileged white child, something I had not much control over. I had a Teddy called Teddy and a Golly called Golly. And I read Enid Blyton.
Teddy and Golly were my friends. I used to hang Teddy upside-down in the trees I climbed, or throw him down from the top branches to land in the Canna bed without due respect for all bears in the world. Did that teach me to be cruel to animals?
Did my Golly teach me to be racist? Did I used to take him by the legs and beat his head on my pillow saying “I hate black people. I hate you!”?
I treasured Teddy and Golly and remember them with deep love.
The eyes of the beholder makes good or evil. Is political correctness just manners? No, I don’t think so. It’s simply political correctness.
From the Guardian recently –
This is exactly how these wretched things (golliwogs) ended up back in the shops. Two things have been going on: the ongoing lie that political correctness (basically, manners) has gone so mad that an open display of racism brands itself somehow as an exercise of freedom. Such people always hark back to a time of “innocence”. That innocence is now called white privilege.
The other is the lie that we live in a “post-racist” society. This is a view that is often expressed in Australia, where golliwogs are extremely popular. Yet if you go to any of the Australian websites selling them, you will see the vendors go with the word “gollies”, leaving out the obviously offensive bit. The tea towel of doom that caused the latest fuss in Dorset is a bizarre mind map. A golliwog holding a pint stands above the slogan “English freedom”. Around it are phrases such as victimhood, safe space, freedom of speech, internet trolls, sharia law. You know – the kind of stuff you want on a tea towel.
You see, this ubiquitous reclamation of the golliwog is neither fun nor nostalgic. It is less an ironic nod to our racist past than a stark reminder of our racist present.
I say yes – we should – definitely!