Golliwogs, Chains, & eBay

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Lest you read the title and conclude that this author has lost her mind completely take comfort in knowing that I didn’t know what a golliwog was either until recently. Doing my due diligence of reading various articles on various places on the web, I came across an article talking about a situation where eBay had recently enacted a policy of not allowing holocaust items to be sold on its site. There were apparently a few instances of this happening – someone sold a full uniform from Dauchau and others were selling the yellow armbands and other personal effects from those caught up in the holocaust. Reading this you would say, “OK, that makes sense,” they would do this because why would you want to promote the sale of such morbid merchandise from such a tragic time period? One would even think to raise a glass to salute eBay for being so conscientious in acting swiftly to ensure these kinds of items do not appear in their listings.

golliwog-ebay-chainsThen you get curious and do a search for slavery memorabilia yes that is actually a term. This will pull you up a boatload of items that, depending on your point of view will meet with varying degrees of horror and disgust. Apparently there is a market for items connected to the brutal slave trade that existed in this country. There are enough people willing to buy them that there is space devoted to them on of all places eBay.

For some reason however, these items and this period has not invoked a similar response from the powers that be at ebay. They have not made any public acknowledgement regarding the selling of human shackles and chains and other related items – can’t imagine why. This is how I ran into the golliwog. While I am sure there are a few people of color who have committed themselves to the acquisition of these abominable items either to destroy them or to have them placed in museums, it is hard to believe that a person of color would be a fan of or would like to be the proud owner of a golliwog.

If one is familiar with the type of racist imagery associated with minstrel shows including the blackface thing that we are revisiting right now in the 21st century with folks thinking its fun to

The Proud Golliwog

The Proud Golliwog

dress that way for Halloween, then you will have some idea of what this is. A golliwog is a rag doll that in appearance resembles one of those little Sambo caricatures that one would see in images dating back to slavery and reconstruction periods. If you are historically challenged, then let me just say, the little doll is charcoal black with a black frizzy afro-type hairstyle with big red lips and big wide eyed stare that typifies the negative imagery that was used to depict African Americans along with the mammy and images of watermelon eating colored folks.

So there is a market for sambo dolls and slave chains who knew? Apparently its also very lucrative as some of the pieces I saw for sale were close to a thousand dollars each.

Why then do we get so upset when a mother, Jessica Black decides to dress her son like a klansman for Halloween and defends her decision to do so by saying that “they donate to St. Judes and such”, why get upset with her choice and the racism behind it. After all it’s not racism to her its just a way of life that has been passed down from generation to generation. Not even fully aware of it as being racism just the “way things are”. Ask Paula Deen about that one.

As to the profit on slavery items, shackles, chains and such some people are always going to be involved in profiting from human suffering. I will leave it to my reader to glean which people those are with the caveat that this is after all America, the land of opportunity, for some anyway.

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Published on: November 4, 2013

Filled Under: Culture, Race

Views: 3291

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  • TiffJ

    Great post. I never understood what people (particularly White American or European people) got out of displaying racist nostalgia in their home and shops, particularly if they aren’t displaying them for historical purposes or in a museum. But as you stated, folks will always find a way to profit off of human suffering, regardless of who it hurts, and there’ll always be platforms that enable them to do so.