I wasn’t party to the conversational interaction that a certain Carol Thatcher has created a polemic with. I am not surprised at what might have been said. I am not clear who in this case her reported unfortunate comments related to, there are a number of characters whose names have been bandied about.
Interestingly, I hear that The Royal Sandringham Estate shop has now been placed in the position of having to take off sale a certain kind of soft black toy. In this day and age, you have to question why was it there for sale in the first place.
Going back in time, I remember there being Robertson’s Jams. The company had a gorgeous friendly black faced mascot called a Golliwog. As a very young child I loved this character for what it was, a bright eyed and friendly face. I remember collecting the tokens so I could be the proud owner of my very own badge and pin my little friend on my cardigan or coat.
When my Christian Church affiliated primary school added its first West Indian boy to its roll, he joined my class. I became distressed at the abuse, some of it physical, directed at him by some of the teaching staff. I was further distressed at the names he was called by the kids, including “Golliwog”. I was hurt at his pain. My happy little ‘jam’ reveries of my young childhood were severely shattered. Adults, those who we as kids were supposed to respect, had put their jaundiced and prejudiced imprint on him, making it ‘alright’ for this kid and others like him to be taunted and hounded. Children can be cruel, they don’t need tacit permission and encouragement. It was sickening, it was wrong.
Years later, as a young adult, I was walking in the rain, not far from home, when I saw my old classmate walking towards me. I called out his name. He stopped, looked a little confused and frightened, he kept his distance. I moved closer to him, he took a step back. I started to talk to him and I recalled one really horrid and memorable incident (effected by a teacher in the classroom)and said how I had felt about this. He relaxed a little and we talked. The space between us narrowed a little. I hoped we would see each other again sometime; we never did.
What had the system and people done to this lovely young man.
Media, icons of youth, people who pronounce in public must know where the boundaries of unacceptability lie. It is right, in my view, that gratuitous sentiments are stamped upon. There is too much pandering to the god of diminution and minimisation.