Thursday, 2 January 2014

Nostalgia & Racism





In Brighton a rather nasty virus has infected due process and procedure. It all started with a rather small store called Bert's. They stocked up on some rather kitschy coasters featuring the Robertson Golly and friends.


The coasters came to the notice of the general public via the pages of a local paper on 30th August 2013. A rather well respected local Councilor, Dawn Barnett, was asked for her opinion and here are her 59 words.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. In fact I’ve got a golliwog magnet sitting on my boiler. They’re nostalgic, not racist. When I was young I remember saving up for a badge showing a golliwog playing a banjo. My children had golliwogs and they preferred them to teddy bears. It’s because they’ve got happy, smiling little faces.”
The paper however is nothing but balanced and it also gets us the profound words of a veteran campaigner for Social Cohesion, Abigail Sinclair, who is the community worker for a registered charity operating as a not for profit company, Mosaic, a black and mixed parentage family group. The group works in Brighton & Hove and surrounding area; just in case you are wondering where your local chapter is.

This veteran campaigner for Social Cohesion is reported to have stated that pictures of golliwogs have “no place” in the city. She proceeds to clarify this as follows: 
 “I was called a golliwog as a kid so it’s very offensive to me. It’s not something that belongs in the present day. I hope we have moved on from that. For people like me, it resurfaces old wounds. It’s got all kinds of negative connotations.”
Now we must bear in mind that here we are talking about a coaster portraying a kitschy retro image. Further the owner of Bert’s Homestores has also assured the paper that if this coaster actually offends anyone then he would withdraw it from the shelves. In addition the image is not banned and is therefore perfectly legal. We are not dealing with pornographic images of children nor is this a depiction of a public beheading.

You would have thought that that would be that. Okay, a tad over the top if you ask me. There are plenty of objects for sale in the high streets that I find highly objectionable. Some of them I find rather offensive to my tender emotions. My solution? I don’t buy them! But it seems that this rather short article has started a whole furore.