Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gollies Gollies everywhere....

The Golliwog (originally spelled Golliwogg) is the least known of the major anti-Black caricatures in the United States. Golliwogs are grotesque creatures, with very dark, often jet black skin, large white-rimmed eyes, red or white clown lips, and wild, frizzy hair. Typically, it's a male dressed in a jacket, trousers, bow tie, and stand-up collar in a combination of red, white, blue, and occasionally yellow colors. The golliwog image, popular in England and other European countries, is found on a variety of items, including postcards, jam jars, paperweights, brooches, wallets, perfume bottles, wooden puzzles, sheet music, wall paper, pottery, jewelry, greeting cards, clocks, and dolls. For the past four decades Europeans have debated whether the Golliwog is a lovable icon or a racist symbol.
© Dr. David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology
Ferris State University
Nov., 2000

Hmmm. Can it be both at the same time? Does my Golly-love make me insensitive?

The Golly army above is a group of send-away tags from Robertson's Jam, given to me by my unfailingly inventive gift-giving brother & his wife for Christmas, along with a Golly Mountie pin and Golly dishcloth. When I was young we used to send these off to get various Golliwog memorabilia from Robertsons - I have a full Golly jazz band (small ceramic figurines) and a Golly pin from that time, & love them all. My other brother had stuffed Gollies, and we all read the tales of Noddy, Big Ears and the trouble-making (but nattily attired) Golliwogs.

The fact that there was any whiff of racism in this symbol didn't even occur to me until it was pointed out by an old boyfriend's much more politically aware than me parents. Think I was about 20. I hid my Golly-admiration for a bit after that, but 20 years on I am coming out of the closet. Racist symbol? Yes, absolutely. Loveable icon? I know it's wrong, but I can't help it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Yet another complex layer of the psychological onion that is 'the Jork' is revealed.