/ / /

The Curious Case Of The Golliwog

There’s a storm a’brewing this side of the Atlantic over the golliwog. It was originally a character in a book — inspired by a black minstrel doll. The toy’s are collectors items, but they are also a relic from an earlier time when racism against black people in the UK was rife.  So from the 1950s onwards it’s a word that’s been used as racial abuse. It would be abbreviated to “wog” if you really wanted to hit a black person where it hurt.
Well let’s fast forward to 2009. Carol Thatcher (daughter of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) used it in an off-air conversation in one of the green rooms at the BBC last week. She was referring to the black French tennis player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who was competing in the Australian Open at the time. She said he “looked like a golliwog”.
She’s since been sacked from the programme she was working on.
Carol’s refused to give an “unconditional apology”, as she says it was — and I quote — “a silly joke”. Unbelievable. What’s even worse is she keeps giving interviews all over the place about how ridiculous her sacking was. Seriously.

Carol is a product of the “upper classes” where they seem oblivious to political correctness where race is concerned (see my Prince Harry post), hence why she felt comfortable using the word in a room full of people, and then repeating it in print. And also why the Queen’s shop in Sandringham was SELLING golliwogs until this whole row started so they took it off the shelves.

So anyway — the question is, if you don’t realise a word is racially offensive, does that mean it’s right to use it?

—Miss London

Like Miss London’s perspective from across the way? Read the rest of her posts here.

To get your view from across the pond, Miss London Party will be your guide. Every week, she’ll be casting her eye over the big stories happening with the Brits. From fashion to entertainment to current affairs to politics, she’s got you covered. A Londoner born and bred, she’s worked as a journalist for two of the UK’s biggest broadcasters, and is currently presenting daily TV news — so she’ll be giving you an inside view on events. In her free time, she likes sitting in the pub on a Sunday afternoon, going through the newspapers, drinking a glass (actually a bottle) of wine, and tucking into a good ol’ English roast. Cliched, but true! She plays netball, swims and is ever so slightly addicted to trashy US shows on her cable TV.

Last 5 posts by Miss London