Carol Thatcher’s GolliwogGate

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[Global News Comment: U.K.]

It is remarkable that in the 21st century, a word such as "golliwog" has reared its ugly head.

This is a term used to describe Black people in a derogatory way, along the same line as "Sambo," "darkie," and "blackie." A golliwog is a rag doll made in the late 19th Century. It is described as a "grotesque creature with very dark, often jet black skin, large white-rimmed eyes, red or white clown lips and wild fizzy hair." It is the least known major anti-Black caricature in the United States.

It has now been reported that Carol Thatcher, the journalist-daughter of the former prime minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher, referred to a mixed race international tennis player as "golliwog," "half-golliwog" and "golliwog-frog" in a private conversation with her co-hosts of a BBC1 program, The One Show.

These remarks were later leaked to British media and the BBC acted swiftly by firing Ms. Thatcher from the program when she refused to make a fulsome and an unconditional apology. She maintains that her remark was an off the cuff remark "made in jest."

I beg to differ. This was a racist and offensive remark.

Of course the British public were in uproar. Half was outraged that someone in the public eye who should know better could make such an offensive remark. The other half equally outraged at the BBC; calling it a totalitarian institution for its decision to sack Thatcher. It is astonishing that Thatcher could garner such support. For her to be portrayed as a victim clearly shows that race is indeed still very much an issue here.

London Mayor, Boris Johnson told a radio station LBC 97.3 that Thatcher should have been given a quiet warning about her language. To me this sounds like the type of reprimand you give to someone who suddenly develops a habit of turning up to work late. I knew there was a reason why I did not vote for Boris Johnson.

A week on and this debate, Golliwog-gate is still raging on, with Thatcher reportedly in hiding in Switzerland, having received death threats from angry individuals.

I have come across various comments Online; one in particular in The Times On line by Walt Taylor, a 68-year-old man from Preston who said that he has been called a "right Wally," (a very silly person, a fool, an idiot, or moron). Whether or not he had deserved it, he ignored it and got on with his life, he wrote.

Well, how so very gracious of Dear Walt. How can he equate being called a moron with someone being referred to with a racist slur? Could he have even been lynched for being a "Wally"? Could his wife or daughter have been raped and spat on for being "Wallies"?

The list of consequences of being a "golliwog" is endless. Moreover, Walt would do well to remember that racial abuse is a criminal offense.

Now we have news that golliwog dolls were being sold at the Queen’s shop in Sandringham. They have now been removed following the Thatcher debacle. Buckingham Palace has been forced to issue an extraordinary apology.

As a race, we have come a long way—from slavery to having one elected leader of the free world. We have had to and still have to fight prejudice and discrimination in order to get ahead. We have to endure negative and constant stereotypes in the media about blackness, monkey chants in soccer stadiums, and many other forms of abuse.

Thatcher’s ignorant and mindless utterances were offensive to decent people of all races.

Allimadi writes for The Black Star News from London

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