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Post-Racial America? Not For Toy Dolls!

August 19, 2009

lilmonkeydoll
May as well have slapped a “Lil’ Racist” headband on the dastardly coordinating Lil Panda White doll! Featuring a burning cross accessory!

Evil toy manufacturer! Nefariously making a “Cuddle Me” doll that comes with something else little girls love… an adorbs stuffed monkey. The horror. I’m pretty sure that with the “Cuddle Me” stuff, they are also totally sexist by chauvinistically implying that little girls must want to cuddle – Hello, misogyny!

Silly me; I didn’t realize that Post-Racial actually meant *making absolutely everything even the most innocuous ABOUT race*

I really need to study my Newspeak Dictionary.

Lil’ Monkey Doll”
LOS ANGELES — Costco has pulled a controversial doll from its shelves after customers complained it was racist.

The doll is called ‘Cuddle with Me” manufactured by BrassKey Keepsakes. It’s the headband that is causing the controversy. It reads “Lil’ Monkey.” The doll is also surrounded by stuffed monkeys. The white doll counterpart on store shelves is surrounded by pandas, with a hat that reads ‘Pretty Panda.’

Mary Gustoff, CEO of Brasskey Keepsakes, said the company has apologized for the mistake, and never intended it to be racist.

“It’s so unfortunate because now it’s portrayed as a purposeful act to be disrespectful and that’s not true. We really apologize. We don’t think in that way. We don’t operate in that kind of thinking. We have a really diverse, family operated company that’s been around for 28 years. What would we have to gain for heaven’s sake?”

Costco is also apologizing for the mistake.

Many customers complained the doll was a reference to the term “monkey” which has been used in the past by racists to denegrate African Americans.

I’ve emphasized the quote that I find most important. They DO NOT think like that… neither do most Americans. The only people who *do* seem to think like that, who see race and color absolutely everywhere are the people who have something to gain from race-baiting. Power.

They cannot move past it; they cannot be “Post-Racial”, as it is a way they hold power and push their agenda. They RELY on victimizing others.

The term was used “in the past”:  Exactly. Let’s leave it there.  Why on Earth can’t a cute little doll come with a stuffed monkey?  Do little girls with darker skin not like monkeys? Or are white little girls who think the darker doll with her monkey is adorable .. are they racist little girls? I call my child, as well as my child plus the children she plays with at the park collectively, “little monkeys” when they are climbing around on the, um, Monkey bars.  Am I unwittingly using a racial slur?  Is everyone else? Today, it’s a word people use as a term of endearment for their children. Moms and Dads often call their kids “little monkeys” (they copy everything you do, monkey see monkey do, and because they like to climb and swing and “monkey around”).

When can we finally put an end to insanity like this and focus on content of character and not content of doll packages?  Enough. We cannot fall for it nor allow it any longer. How can we ever truly be Post-Racial if absolutely everything continues to be about race? If innocent things like this are constantly twisted around so as to be racist?

Those who see only color and who actively seek to pin a racial element to everything, are the ones who need to examine why they do so. Maybe then, and only then, can we actually become Post-Racial.

And let the darn kids have their dolls.

(h/t SomeGit)

UPDATE THINGIE: From the Comments: Makes key point, only much better than I did. And with less talkies.  Sigh. I blame my fancy womb for my incessant chattering.

Exactly!

This is a problem for the beholder… not the one who didn’t see the problem …If you look at that and see some unbearable racial implication in this, then it is *you* that has issues…

23 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2009 6:19 pm

    Exactly!

    This is a problem for the beholder… not the one who didn’t see th problem …If you look at that and see some unbearable racial implication in this, then it is *you* that has issues…

    It’s not the world around you in some clans-inspired cabal that started with dolls that perhaps come to life when your kid sleeps and forces them to Hee Haw in a white robe at night…

    These people need to grow up …or shut-the-hell up… It’s a paint job on the outer layer of your skin… Get over it…

    • snarkandboobs permalink*
      August 19, 2009 6:30 pm

      Bingo!

      This: “”This is a problem for the beholder… not the one who didn’t see th problem …If you look at that and see some unbearable racial implication in this, then it is *you* that has issues…””

      Precisely summed up what I was attempting to say. Thankies!

  2. August 19, 2009 6:31 pm

    And if it were reversed?

    I call my grandson Lil Monkey all the time. He’s white.

    You’re absolutely right. They can’t get rid of the First Amendment until they can find a way to permanently get rid of the Constitution so they mute it under an avalanche of political correctness.

    • snarkandboobs permalink*
      August 19, 2009 6:48 pm

      YUP.

      And I call my kid a little monkey all the time too. I didn’t realize that I was apparently using a racial slur each time I do so!

  3. Jaded permalink
    August 19, 2009 7:11 pm

    Once again PC’ism hurting little children the world over!

    • snarkandboobs permalink*
      August 19, 2009 7:54 pm

      True, Jaded! My little girl would like both the panda doll and the monkey doll and she’s not evil.. she just likes cute little monkeys. And she likes both the white and the darker dolls, because she has light and dark friends. She also prefers the darker Barbies because they have dark hair like her Mommy.

  4. August 20, 2009 6:57 am

    Couldn´t help but remember Howard Cosell (well known for his pro-civil rights stance and support of Mohammad Ali) and how it cost him his job with Monday Night Football for saying “Look at that little monkey run” while Alvin Garrett was carrying the ball.

    So, Post-racial? A far cry from it. But, then, with likes of “Skip” Gates out there looking for racists around every corner, will it ever be?

  5. Alex permalink
    September 23, 2009 2:10 pm

    I think that Monkey is a very heavy word in America. The people who grew up being called monkey are still alive today walking into Costco to buy their grandchildren toys. And to have an option of a little black doll called “lil Monkey” or a white doll called “pretty Panda” seems both unfair and racist to me.

    You’re talking about a world that is Post Racism and that sounds like a very beautiful place and I would love to live there. But what I see are educated blacks standing up and not taking these underhanded slurs anymore. And I am not blind to the struggle that the new generation face.

  6. Justin permalink
    September 24, 2009 11:17 am

    I am White. But even I don’t understand how you dare speak on something that you, fundamentally, will never comprehend.

    I could say that we live in a post-racist America. I can say that I’m color blind, and that “spook” or “coon” or “monkey” doesn’t mean anything anymore.

    …But I’ve never been called those things. I’ve never clenched my fist, helpless as I walk down the street to people chanting those very words. Screaming them to my back.

    Who are you, to say these words have no meaning?
    Are you Black?

    No.

    You are like me. A privileged, clueless, whitey.

    Shut the fuck up.

    • snarkandboobs permalink*
      September 24, 2009 11:22 am

      how you dare speak on something that you, fundamentally, will never comprehend.

      How dare I? I “dare” because it’s a free Country… for now.. and I have freedom of speech. Y’all TRY to intimidate people into silence by using the race card for absolutely everything. Well, it’s not working any longer.

      Nice try with the “coon” and the “spook” stuff. I *never* used those words nor did I even imply they were OK. I was speaking about A DOLL with a STUFFED MONKEY.

      You are like me. A privileged, clueless, whitey.

      Shut the fuck up.

      You know nothing about me.

      And, no. I won’t shut the f*** up. Keep it classy, by the way. Wouldn’t expect anything less, sadly.

    • snarkandboobs permalink*
      September 24, 2009 11:51 am

      And you know what ticks me off the most? Everyone claiming RACIST for every little thing … you’ve belittled true acts of racism. The word has been diminished to the point where it is just background noise. Because if *everything* is Racist, then *nothing* is.

      And that’s just crappy.

    • Mrs. Muur permalink
      October 16, 2009 7:15 pm

      Thank you. Spoken like a person who has a BRAIN including a heart!

      • snarkandboobs permalink*
        October 16, 2009 10:51 pm

        Mrs. Muur permalink

        Thank you. Spoken like a person who has a BRAIN including a heart!

        Oh, I see. THIS shows a brain and a heart?

        You are like me. A privileged, clueless, whitey.

        Shut the fuck up.

        Wow. Your idea of “brains” is pretty sad.

  7. Wayne permalink
    October 7, 2009 12:54 pm

    I just read all of the posts here and outside of Justin’s last comment, I have to agree with some of what he said. Just stop and consider something for a minute. In the 60’s, the word “coon”, “jiggaboo”, “monkey” and other words that have a negative connotation were used by racists to intimidate and degrade Black People. A lot of those people having to live with that during that time are now Grandparents of people today living in a society that can’t fully grasp how tramatizing, hurtful and degrading that was back then. Some people still have deep wounds from that era and though the wounds may have healed, the scars are still there and remind them of how it was and the pain still mentally lingers. I was a young black kid back in the mid to late 60’s and I remember being called some of these names and it did hurt because I hadn’t done anything to deserve being called those names. I would hope that people would be sensitive to the feelings of others and ask before assuming saying something or doing something that was once meant to be offensive won’t be taken the wrong way if used in a non-offensive way. I really believe if the manufacturer or marketer of the doll would have sat down and discussed this with a diverse group of decision makers, the doll probably wouldn’t have been marketed and or sold the way it was because someone would have possibly picked up on the possibility of offending someone.

    • Mrs. Muur permalink
      October 16, 2009 7:19 pm

      Exactly Wayne. Well put. Thank you as well! (directed to Justin & Wayne)

  8. Nicole permalink
    October 12, 2009 3:19 pm

    Someone sent me an email about this issue, and while researching it I came across your site. I found out along the way that there is no Caucasian version of the Lil Monkey doll, but a Caucasian doll in the same Cuddle With Me collection called Pretty Panda. There is also a Hispanic doll, but I could not find out what it is called.

    My first amendment perspective is that it is too simple to write off upset about the Lil Monkey doll as people trying to drag race into everything. This is the sum of history and the fact that only the African-American doll was given the name and the banana, and that after all America – not just African-Americans – has been though about race issues, the doll did not raise concern for the manufacturer or for buyers at Costco.

    There are some things in the history of a people that will always linger and arouse hurt or anger. Anything connected to a time when you were treated as less than human, and subject to derogatory statements, lynchings and fear will never be a good memory. Similarly, I doubt any American will EVER see anything cute or funny about 9/11, or Jewish people about the Holocaust. “Get over it” does not fix those feelings.

    Would it have made a difference if all ethnicities of the doll were available under each name in the manufacturer’s collection? Certainly. The doll would probably not have raised much conversation. The fact that it was the African-American doll with the Lil Monkey name complete with toy banana, etc., taps into a stereotype that was and remains a painful wound for many African-Americans.

    Even in a post-racial society as you refer it – which in my opinion we’re a long way from – we have to relate to people with awareness of their history. This is so whether we are talking about complex issues like ethnicity and religion, or less broad but equally sensitive ones like the industry in which some people work (for example, the auto industry, or California agricultural harvesters). Does this mean we have to spend the rest of our lives walking on eggshells? Of course not. But to get to that post-racial place each of us will need to be more aware of the big, inclusive picture, and not just of the view from our window.

  9. snarkandboobs permalink*
    October 12, 2009 3:35 pm

    Yeah, I *do* see more than just what is outside my own window. Wish I could say the same for everyone else, then perhaps we *would* be post-racial one day.

    It’s a doll. With a cute stuffed animal. If someone sees something horribly and unbearably racist in even that, well then the world is more screwed than I even believed.

    It’s A DOLL. For KIDS. With one of their *favorite* animals. Kids love monkeys and kids are not inherently racist. Nor is there some conspiracy by the toy company to engender a resurgence of the Klan via a darn doll. If one finds it offensive somehow, don’t buy it.

    • Alex permalink
      October 12, 2009 9:56 pm

      Well, is it only black children that like monkeys?
      Why couldn’t they manufacture a white doll with monkeys too?

      Do you feel bad that poor little white kids don’t get represented with a monkey?

      How can you explain the feeling of a black grandmother that has to buy a birthday present for her grandchild and come across this?

      I think that it’s good that you posted this because you are at least bringing up the subject. I know so many people who skirt the subject because it makes them uncomfortable. But I think being uncomfortable is a healing process, for everyone.

      I hope you don’t mind that there are opposing ideas on your blog, but then again, if you did, you’re in the wrong place.

      But anyway, I took a class about animation last semester, and one about toys (just for fun. I’m still such a kid) this semester, which is how I came across your blog. You can pick up some really racist things from animations and toys in the past. And I mean, super blatant, anyone would squirm away from that nowadays. And times have changed, toys and animations have changed too, but barely.

      And kids might not be racist by nature, but they are little sponges. Just the other day when I was doing a toy workshop for my class with some 4th graders, one of the youngsters made a Klan member/UFC fighter toy and presented it to the whole class of 4th graders and college students. I was so surprised because I hoped that we were passed that, at the very least. But these disgusting memories and ideas are passed down from adults and environments, and children are defenseless from such aggressive thoughts.

      • snarkandboobs permalink*
        October 12, 2009 10:16 pm

        Well, is it only black children that like monkeys?
        Why couldn’t they manufacture a white doll with monkeys too?

        Do you feel bad that poor little white kids don’t get represented with a monkey?

        Why do you think only black children will play with / buy the black doll?

        My daughter has black baby dolls. She’s white. She also has black barbies. And white ones. She plays with both. She actually prefers the black barbies because they have dark hair like her Mommy🙂

        And, no, of course I don’t mind opposing views. That’s what debate is for .. what’s the point of preaching only to the choir, right? I may as well just talk to myself then! (OK, I *do* do that also, but still )

      • snarkandboobs permalink*
        October 12, 2009 10:19 pm

        P.S. I am VERY sorry to hear about the klan member toy that was made in your class. I, of course, never meant to imply that racism does not exist *at all*. Only that by claiming *everything* is racist, for all intents and purposes you are then making *nothing* racist. Real racism becomes sort of background noise and I think that stinks.

  10. Nicole permalink
    October 13, 2009 2:39 pm

    As Alex experienced, racism is alive and well and being taught to new generations. Your child and mine, and likely our grandchildren, will see this philosophy in their lifetime.

    It does sometimes seem that political correctness and people’s hurt feelings take the fun out of things. As you’ve been saying, it’s just a doll and don’t buy it if you don’t like it. Another site out there stated that if the “name was on a white doll no one would bat an eye”. Well, Caucasians don’t have a history with that particular stereotype, so it might not create offense. There would be a stir though if there was, let’s say, a Lil Irish doll that came with a spade and was surrounded by potatoes.

    Limits have to be clear about what is acceptable, whether it is with a doll or anything else. If not, there are people who would happily push past unclear lines and take this country backwards in time.

    I too don’t want to believe someone would risk their career or their company’s reputation to deliver an under-handed slap to African-Americans via a doll. Still, the thought lurks in my mind that a stereotype, even if unconscious, was the basis for the doll’s concept, and maybe even for putting in on shelves in places where it was being sold.

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