ZOMBIE THREAD ALERT: This thread hasn't been posted on for a while.

To be shocked by this?

(91 Posts)
malovitt Tue 29-Jan-13 17:19:36

I went to our local council offices today to have a look at a neighbour's planning application.

The planning officer I was dealing with made some small talk about this being her last month as she was coming up for retirement age.

She then took off her cardigan and was clearly wearing a largish (3 inches?) Robinson's Jam Gollywog pendant around her neck.

I couldn't believe my eyes - would this be not frowned upon in most normal working environments? I could hardly bear to speak to her after that and left the building as soon as I could.

EldritchCleavage Thu 31-Jan-13 19:55:12

Everyone thinks Golliwoggs are a symbol of racism..they are not! They were created as as a term of endearment/childhood tradition hahahahaha, as if!

Although we were involved with the slave trade there weren't any slaves in the UK Of course there were. Not in great numbers like the Americas, but there certainly were. When Lord Mansfield declared in 1772 that slavery was not recognised by the English common law, Wikipedia says:

As a result of Mansfield's decision between 14,000 and 15,000 slaves were immediately freed, some of whom remained with their masters as paid employees.The decision was apparently not immediately followed; Africans were still hunted and kidnapped in London, Liverpool and Bristol to be sold elsewhere, and Mansfield was so uncertain about how it would be applied that he specified in his will that his "mulatto" great-niece Dido Elizabeth Belle was to be considered a free woman

There's no citation for the 14,000 to 15,000 figure though.

St. Giles in London (hard by Centrepoint) was the ghetto where escaped slaves used to hide out. They often sought sanctuary in St. Giles Churchyard.

JaquelineHyde Thu 31-Jan-13 19:32:56

confused you are amazed I gave my beautiful mixed race childrern a golly doll that matched their black Zimbabwean fathers much loved golly?

Why would this shock you?

Did you read any of my last post about how we understand the connotations the dolls have in this country and how that is the reason why the planning official should not have been wearing her pendant.

Did you read how I explained that Gollys are not offensive to my DH or any of his family and in fact they are just normal, much loved dolls.

I also thought I made it quite clear that there are many things that are considered normal in this country that are horribly offensive to my DH due to the racism he has suffered. However, as a reasonable man he understands that these things are not offensive here and so he just accepts things for what they are, innocent and in no way racist.

I have said from the begining that I/we understand, accept, appreciate and sympathise with the feelings of some people towards these dolls, this is not in any way in question.

Is it so hard for you to see it from the other side as well or is it a case of you are right and anyone who doesn't agree with you is wrong?

MrsDeVere Thu 31-Jan-13 17:19:17

I disagree with you.

Please do not attempt to tell me what I really think. How odd that you would think you could do that confused

In my family, we would be as likely to put a golly in our child's pram as we would be to put them in a babygro with swastikas on it. How can you possibly tell me that that is not true?

People who are offended by gollywogs are only saying they are, they don't really mean it? Bizarre.

Strong PC leanings = I don't agree with your ideals so I want to find a label in order to discredit them. I won't try very hard, mind. I will just pull out this old chestnut out of the bag.

Bobbybird40 Thu 31-Jan-13 16:57:47

Mrsdevere they are a symbol of racism for some people but with the best will in the world, to compare them with swastikas is slightly ott - and I suspect you know that. I also strongly suspect that only those people with strong PC leanings would be offended by a doll - and even then I would question whether they genuinely were offended or were just trying to impose their liberal, sterile view of the world onto others.

MrsDeVere Thu 31-Jan-13 15:21:14

I don't think anyone has says the woman needs to be wiped off the face of the earth did they?

The argument is that they are a symbol of racism and should not be worn in public office and that they are not the harmless dolly that some people insist they are.

Your husband suffered abuse but where Gollies a big part of Zimbabwean culture when he was growing up?

Me and OH are in our mid 40s. If you were a black children growing up in London in the 70s gollies may have very different connotations from a person growing up in a predominately black country.

My OH is second generation West Indian. He was one of only a couple of black kids in his school apart from his siblings. Gollies were used to mock and insult.

I do not know one single person in our position who would have given these monstrosities to there children. I am amazed that you did that.

For us that would be like putting them in a babygro with swastikas on it.

Why is that so difficult for you to understand and accept?

JaquelineHyde Thu 31-Jan-13 14:30:08

MrsDeVere you have helped demonstrate my exact point. Thank you.

My DH would never ever wave his gollie around in front of anyone who he knew was sensitive to its image or whom he thought might be sensitive to it, which is why it sits in our bedroom quite happily and is why the DC's gollies were never taken out in the pram etc as we would hate to offend anyone.

This is why I said in my very first post and several afterwards that the planning officer should have never worn her pendant to work.

However, I will not believe for one minute that anyone who owns or like gollies in any form is an ignorant racist who deserves to be wiped off the face of the earth. Which is unfortunately the opinion that is coming accross on this thread by several naive posters who like to think they know it all and over the years on these threads have constantly refused to see the other side of the argument, throwing insults around with ease.

For what it's worth there are many totally innocent words, phrases and items in use in the UK to day that you and I and your DH probably use/own without a second thought but that are highly offensive to my DH due to them being used in an utterly racist manner in Zimbabwe. Yet still my DH doesn't run around screaming ignorant racist in the face of anyone using such items/words because he understands that there are cultural (and passage of time) differences at play.

Why is this so difficult to understand and accept?

HoHoHoNoYouDont Wed 30-Jan-13 22:49:04

As usual with kind of threads there is half that find it offensive and half that don't. No one wins.

I find page 3 offensive and despite signing petitions etc it's still out there isn't it. You could say 'don't look then' but that could be said to the OP about the golly pendant. I think we all have to accept that we will have to live with offensive things/behaviour no matter how we try to challenge it. That's life.

Dawndonna Wed 30-Jan-13 22:40:31

The world is going pc mad if you ask me Nobody is, thank goodness.
The same old shite from people who are scared. PC mad is used to defend what is wrong, it's an excuse because those using it not allowed to say what they would like to.
A Golliwog is racist. Whether worn with racist intent or not, it should not be publicly displayed, it is rude and offensive.

MrsDeVere Wed 30-Jan-13 22:21:55

That may be so Jaqueline but my OH is a very laid back sort of bloke. Show him a golly and tell him its a bit of fun and you will see a very different side of him.

So who wins? The black bloke from London who hates them, for whom they provoke anger and trigger memories of years of abuse and name calling?

Or you OH who thinks they are fine?

MrsDeVere Wed 30-Jan-13 22:18:19

A brown knitted doll is not a gollywog.

I have made dolls that look like my DD. They are beautiful.
They do not have googly eyes, great gaping mouths and nappy heads.

A gollywog is very different from a brown/black doll.

RuleBritannia Wed 30-Jan-13 22:11:25

Can't reember exactly where I saw it on the internet but there's a group of knitters who have created 'knitted pageants' of dolls. Hand knitted for a charity or museum or exhibition of some sort -- can't remember what--.. Some of them have brown or black faces. Surely they are golliwogs? No-one's making a fuss there.

For heaven's sake!

Writehand Wed 30-Jan-13 22:10:56

My parents gave my DSG a ragdoll from Martinique that resembles a Robinson's Golly, only in a dress. It's reversible - one way up she's going to market, the other she's in her best. It was created by black locals to sell to tourists of any old colour.

Sensitivities vary with geography -- Americans see things very differently because of slavery, the civil rights movement and their huge racial issues. Although we were involved with the slave trade there weren't any slaves in the UK, and our attitude to Robinson's Gollies was far more innocent.

I remember being read Little Black Sambo. He was an Indian boy. They don't have wild tigers or ghee (both of which feature heavily) in Africa. Or America. And of course he was the total hero of the book, which people seem to forget.

cumfy Wed 30-Jan-13 21:45:03

<Waiting for golliwog tattoo AIBU>wink

PessaryPam Wed 30-Jan-13 20:55:33

Obviously OP she should have been removed from post and stripped of her pension. How very dare her.

JaquelineHyde Wed 30-Jan-13 20:53:08

I have told DH that he is an ignorant racist for owning and displaying with pride on the top of the shelves in our bedroom his very own golly.

I have also told him to ring his mother and brothers and sister and make sure they are aware how ignorant and racist they are for not finding these dolls offensive.

I do this everytime this discussion comes up on MN and everytime he laughs a lot and then he laughs some more.

Just to explain DH is a black Zimbabwean imigrant who has been on the recieving end of plenty of racism in this country and in Zimbabwe.

Bobbybird40 Wed 30-Jan-13 18:25:36

Say what malovitt? She's an ageing woman wearing a relic of a bygone era. She probably has no idea it is offensive - and, tbf, it is people choosing to being offended rather than genuine offence lets face it. So say what to her? Tell her she is racist? She is offensive? Seriously, where do people like you get off constantly looking for offence in absolutely bloody everything. Why can't you just live and let live FFs.

malovitt Wed 30-Jan-13 18:11:05

Thanks FairyJen, what a thoughtful and articulate post.

Lying - no faux outrage - I'm usually the first one to speak up in a situation like this, but I was one of a group of fellow neighbours there who would have been furious with me for derailing the meeting. This woman is dealing with something that is very important to them AND she is in the last few weeks of her career of over thirty years with the council. I genuinely think she forgot she had it on. Had I been alone, I would have said something, and if I have the chance of seeing her again, I will.

Interesting responses though!

LessMissAbs Wed 30-Jan-13 13:33:52

I'm shocked at someone wearing such a strange pendant. The sheer sartorial choice...what an odd thing to wear. How does a gollywog motif get on a pendant in the first place, and why would you put it there? Do people actually manufacture these things, or was it homemade?

I'm off to have a look on ebay too. Sounds vile I can hardly believe such things exist and people even pay money for them!

Boomerwang Wed 30-Jan-13 13:31:18

Lying what exactly could she have done? She could tell the woman what she thinks of her necklace and I bet the woman would spout back a load of guff. Then what? OP has to deal with this woman as she's the planning officer. If I needed her services I'd probably leave it until the end to point out that she's wearing an offensive symbol around her neck and that I don't expect to see it when she's at work again, but it won't actually make her do anything, will it?

FairyJen Wed 30-Jan-13 12:16:53

I don't find them offensive and not do I know anyone who does.

I find this all ridiculous quite frankly she is entitled to wear whatever she fucking wants you the one with the problem with it. People find tattoes offensive should they have to peel their skin so as not to offend?

The world is going pc mad if you ask me. And as for it bein racist is it not a racist assumption that will offend people as your basically saying "don't talk about or show the black person the gollywog as it will upset them" which means your basically making an assumption about them base on the colour of their skin!

I've just looked on ebay....there are pages and pages of gollywog stuff on there.

DoJo Wed 30-Jan-13 12:02:25

Pendants aren't racist - people are.

When I was little I was given a Golly and I loved it, I played with it along with my teddies and dollies (and he wasn't naughty or the bad character in my games). I still have a Golly, in a box in the attic. I still love it as it reminds me of something I loved and the person who gave it to me. However I haven't given it to my dd to play with and it isn't on display because while it might have positive meaning for me that obviously isn't the same for everyone and I don't want to offend people.

If a significant section of society is offended by Golliwogs they are, by definition, offensive so professional people should respond accordingly and not wear them to work. Common sense I would have thought.

Still love my Golly though.

Startail Wed 30-Jan-13 00:12:26

I still have my Robinson's apron, it was my school cookery one. lots of happy memories.

I have put it in a safe place as I don't want to offend anyone.

like the memories it belongs to another place and time.
(30+ years ago in the least ethically mixed corner of rural Wales you could imagine. The only black people Id ever met were the lovely lads at Birmingham ice rink who picked you up when you fell over).

It's not hanging up in my kitchen and I definitely wouldn't wear it in the work place.

RafflesWay Wed 30-Jan-13 00:12:09

I absolutely adored Gollies as a child and much preferred one to Tiny Tears, Sindy and Tressy. Golly was most definitely the favourite with me. Crikey didn't realize how racist I was beinghmm Ridiculous! However, I don't think the pendant was appropriate from a professional perspective. And I loved collecting the Robertson jam tokens for the badges as did most children of my era. I also have black, white and Far eastern friends and colleagues and admire and care for them all equally.

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