Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Carol Thatcher and the Gollywog Remark

Apparently, Carol Thatcher made a remark at work, at the BBC, comparing someone's hair to that of a gollywog. This was being discussed on The Wright Stuff this morning. Carol Thatcher is a frequent panel member on the show. Remember, this is the same show on which Henry Bonsu used to be a panel member before they got rid of him with no explanation. He talks about this in my book Black Success Stories.

The panel pretty much agreed that this is a storm in a teacup, as Thatcher's remark was made privately. Sanjeev Bhaskar is making jokes about it.

These kinds of grotesque images were widely circulated in the African colonies to reinforce negative stereotypes about African people, as the the late Len Garrison, founder of the Black Cultural Archives explains in Black Success Stories.

I don't think anyone should have to work in a workplace where these kinds of remarks are being made.

One of the key areas in which Black people were taught to have negative thoughts and feelings about ourself was around our hair. To read more about this, read The Key to Confidence and Self-Esteem. See also What They Don't Want Us to Know.

2 comments:

Ginger Skin Head said...

My red hair grows in a very unkempt manner; it is very, very thick and naturally grows into a massive Afro though I have no relatives of African descent, at all. I was horribly bullied at school for my hair. The kids were totally freaked out by my hair colour and the unusual shape it grew into. Some of the things I remember the kids saying about me at school were quite appalling, now I look back at it. I remember some kid telling me, quite seriously, that if they had hair as freaky as mine they would kill themselves. All the other kids in my class year, who had red hair, dyed their hair black because red hair was ugly. Even, the teachers would gasp or laugh when they saw my unusual hair. Most people with red hair, even those whose hair is perfectly straight are bullied for nothing more than the fact that they look different to some perceived norm. However, this was not because of some complex conspiracy, organised by government or illuminati conspiring a master plan behind closed doors, it is just unfortunately the way humans are. We evolved to think this way, for tens of thousands of years it was written in our very genes to weed out physical difference. In the past people did not travel great distances to meet other peoples and society was only the size of a family who were mostly close relatives. People did not come across people much different to themselves. So, when difference did appear, it could nearly always safely be assumed to be something negative because most mutations in nature are negative, it is one of the basic law of evolution. We are programmed to think difference is something to be feared and not something that is viable or something to be respected, like a different race.

Zhana21 said...

Sometimes white people think that because they have experienced being bullied, excluded or oppressed, this makes them authorities on Black people's experience of racism. It doesn't. Racism is a system of power based on white skin privilege. An individual white person's being singled out for a physical characteristic such as red hair, however painful that experience was and however unacceptable that kind of bullying is, is not the same as racism, nor is it comparable.