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.

TheSecondComing Tue 29-Jan-13 18:18:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MMMarmite Tue 29-Jan-13 18:21:24

Oh no, not the gollywog argument again. Yes they are racist and offensive, as explained in malovitt's link which gives their history.

At the very best, she was being unintentionally racist: she might be ignorant of the history, but she still needs to be told to stop wearing this, as it's likely to make black people she comes into contact with feel very uncomfortable and offended.

malovitt Tue 29-Jan-13 18:48:03

She was in a council office in a central London borough - a pretty diverse area of the country, wouldn't you think ComposHat?

I think she forgot she had it on tbh, it hasn't been 'cardi off' weather recently and I'm sure someone would have pulled her up on it had they seen it. Or maybe all her colleagues think it's a innocent dolly from the past.

SolomanDaisy Tue 29-Jan-13 18:52:06

I am very very surprised that the planning officer was allowed to wear it. Many people find them offensive, with good reason. Whatever people's arguments that they're not intended to be offensive, a public servant shouldn't be wearing a controversial potentially racist symbol.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 29-Jan-13 18:52:18

I'd be quite surprised to see one, and while I wouldn't think the wearer was racist, I would think they were seriously misguided.

I used to love my collection of Robinson's golly badges when i was a kid. I even ate the vileness that is marmalade to get tokens to send off quicker.

ApocalypseThen Tue 29-Jan-13 19:51:27

Anyone who expects people to believe that they don't think those dolls are racist is really being very disingenuous. You might think anyone believes you, but nobody does.

ComposHat Tue 29-Jan-13 19:52:49

I'd be quite surprised to see one, and while I wouldn't think the wearer was racist, I would think they were seriously misguided

^^ This

nkf Tue 29-Jan-13 19:53:01

I would have been shocked. Because you would think she had a bit of a brain and some public sector standards.

ubik Tue 29-Jan-13 19:55:22

You can buy them on the BNP website

Yes really

BigGalah Tue 29-Jan-13 20:05:48

Daily Mail reading pensioners take great delight in buying gollies.

Usually for the grandchildren, especially if their daughters-in-law have dangerously liberal ideas on political correctness.

The planning officer is obviously getting a bit of practice in the run up to her retirement, I mean, what are they going to do, sack her?

I'd email lots of people at the council and complain (but then I might be holding onto a teeny bit of resentment about our own little golly fiasco, bloody thing had to live in the bottom of the toybox for years before it was safe to chuck it away without causing MIL-meltdown angry )

TheArmadillo Tue 29-Jan-13 20:09:22

Given that she was working for a local authority AND doubly so that she was dealing with the public face to face she should not have been wearing it and you should be making an official complaint.

Whether or not everyone agrees it should be thought of as racist is irrelevant, the fact is that it is widely accepted that a large amount of the population do find it so, therefore it is unacceptable for her to wear it.

I am genuinely gobsmacked that anyone in the public sector would think this acceptable and can't imagine anyone where I work doing the same even where they thought public opinion was wrong.

SingySongy Tue 29-Jan-13 20:12:01

Suffice to say, if I were her line manager, I would be having a gentle word.

edam Tue 29-Jan-13 20:18:24

I'm surprised anyone working for a council would wear one. I do appreciate some people have fond memories of the Robinson's mascot and never associated it with racism, but the views that count most are those of the victims or targets or likely victims. Best avoided.

SavoyCabbage Tue 29-Jan-13 20:18:30

Perhaps her name is Robertson. A friend of my mothers collected the badges as it was her surname. There is no way she would wear them nowadays and she is over 60. She gets it that it would offend some people.

There are golliwogs abounding in the shops where I live in Australia. I do find them offensive and repellent and I won't shop where they are sold. My sister had one growing up in the 70s (bought by the Robertson lady) and we never gave it a thought.

edam Tue 29-Jan-13 20:20:42

The swastika was originally a Hindu symbol but anyone wearing a swastika necklace to work these days would quite rightly be asked to take it off (unless they work for the BNP, I guess). Same goes for the jam mascot.

whateveritakes Tue 29-Jan-13 20:23:49

Just use your imagination. Suppose there was a caricature of people who share some of your features designed in a time when people who also shared those features were denied civil rights. Imagine this caricature emphasised the features that set you apart and was associated with stories about simplemindedness and obedience which were considered traits of people like you.

Er I have a necklace, a calendar and makeup mirror with 1950's women on them..

Brilliant, whateveritakes!

Yamyoid Tue 29-Jan-13 20:31:03

I'm shocked by people's ignorance on this thread. As ApocolypseThen has said, they are offensive and even if the stupid woman didn't realise, someone senior should have told her why she shouldn't be wearing it.

Greensleeves Tue 29-Jan-13 20:34:19

Of course they are racist and offensive

and if I saw one on a public servant I would complain, while knowing my complaint would probably be fruitless like the jam

JaquelineHyde Tue 29-Jan-13 20:44:05

This argument goes round and round and round on MN, year after year.

Some people find them offensive (black and white), some people don't (black and white).

As someone working in a public facing role the planning officer should not have ever been allowed to take the risk of offending someone with it regardless of how harmless she believes the image to be.

Hardly baring to speak with her and having to leave as soon as possible is a little far fetched OP. Why not express your opinion to the lady in question or make an immediate complaint if it bothered you that much like any normal grown up?

nkf Tue 29-Jan-13 20:50:53

An argument going round and round is basically a definition of MN. And it's a much more worthwhile argument to have than paying bars or whether a TV can be too big. I don't personally believe it's as balanced as that. I think idiots and racists don't find them offensive and sensible people with a sense of history and society do.

Bobbybird40 Tue 29-Jan-13 20:50:59

While they probably are racist, I can't help think that only somebody who was incredibly prissy would be shocked by them.

ApocalypseThen Tue 29-Jan-13 21:40:17

Yeah, you'd have to be prissy to be shocked when someone in a public service role makes a point of showing you their racially-offensive jewellery.

For goodness sake, the only reason it exists is to demean people! Like, get off your high horse and accept that some people like pretending that they don't understand why these dolls are racist. They just like them for some reason that has nothing at all to do with racism, and everything to do eith their love of bygone commercial advertising symbols. And continue to like them after being told that they're racist. For some reason. Probably because jam is just that unbelievably good.

JaquelineHyde Tue 29-Jan-13 21:58:32

So if a black family allows there black children to keep and play with gollies that family are racist idiots?

My definition of an idiot is someone who cannot and will not ever see an argument from the other side just continuing on blindly because they obviously know best.

I see both sides of this argument and agree with parts of both sides. There is a history deeper than the cute little jam logo in this country and the U.S. this is true and to deny or not acknowledge this is foolish, but it is just as foolish to not understand that gollies are not universally acknowledged as a negative stereotype and are very much loved in black and white families around the world.

I get the impression that people wear or display golliwogs with the intention of provoking an arguement. Either an arguement about how they aren't racist or about free speech, of the "it's political correctness gorn mad" type. I really find it difficult to imagine an adult wearing a 3 inch pendant of one for any other reason as a 3 inch pendant of another brand mascot or doll would just look odd.

It is also much easier to believe that things aren't racist when that form of racism isn't ever directed at you.

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