‘Very racist’ golliwog dolls removed from Royal Adelaide Show arts and crafts display
The Royal Adelaide Show has withdrawn three golliwogs from public display in response to accusations of racism, saying the dolls were unlikely to feature at the show in future.
Photos of the dolls were shared on Facebook by Indigenous community group Deadly Yarning from South Australian Aboriginal Communities.
One of the group’s administrators Janette Milera said the toys were “very racist”, adding it was even more hurtful that they appeared to have won prizes.
She said the photos of the dolls, which were on display in the arts and crafts hall, were taken by a friend of hers who was “disgusted these dolls were still around”.
“I couldn’t believe that in 2018 we’re still having to discuss such things as golliwog dolls, and why people do not understand why they are so offensive to people of colour,” Ms Milera said.
“They are not acceptable … I didn’t think that people would still sit down and make these dolls, so I was a bit shocked that these dolls had been accepted.”
The toys were submitted in the “children’s soft toy” and “cloth doll” categories in the handicrafts competition of the show, which opened on Friday.
Golliwogs first appeared in popular culture in the late 1800s and were the creation of American-born cartoonist Florence Kate Upton.
Ms Milera said they were today considered deeply offensive because they were intended to depict blackface minstrels.
“The big lips, the big eyes, and just the blackness of the faces — I’m not sure what they were thinking when they were doing it but it’s very derogatory,” she said.
Show apologises for causing offence
While some social media users defended the dolls, others supported the Facebook group, prompting the show to issue its own statement beneath the group’s original post.
“There are variety of traditional dolls entered in the handicrafts competition including Parisian dolls, Japanese dolls and African dolls,” the statement read.
“However the dolls above have been removed from the display.
The Royal Adelaide Show’s general manager Michelle Hocking said
it was unlikely golliwog dolls would again feature at the show.
She said “no offence was ever intended”, and has apologised.
“We were a little bit surprised by the reaction because we’ve had golly dolls in the competition as long as I can remember,” Ms Hocking said.
“There are various different stories or accounts of where the golly dolls actually come from, and from our point of view it was a story book written many, many years ago.
“Unfortunately there has been some offence taken to actually having the golly dolls in the competition.
“We looked at the response it was getting last night on social media and decided we would remove the dolls.
“We also did that to look after the ladies, as well, who have entered the dolls because some of the comments that were coming through were very offensive, they were very personal.”
Ms Milera said she would like the Royal Adelaide Show to demonstrate greater cultural awareness in future.
“I’d really like them to just remember they are on Kaurna land and be culturally sensitive,” she said.