Saturday, June 11, 2016

Shopkeeper disqualified from village window display competition over golliwog tea-towel

A shopkeeper has been disqualified from a village competition because her window featured a golliwog tea-towel standing over the words 'English Freedom'. Viv Endecott hung up two tea-towels in the window of the Enid Blyton-themed Ginger Pop Shop in Corfe Castle, Devon, as her entry in the annual Purbeck Arts Festival window display contest. The display, called 'English Freedom', includes words she agrees with depicted in red - like 'freedom of speech', 'liberty' and 'tolerance' - and words she disagrees with in grey - including 'slavery', 'ignorance' and 'political correctness gone mad' - with the golliwog image in the centre.

However, an emergency meeting of the festival committee said the image of a golliwog, seen by many as a crude racial stereotype, was offensive and the festival did not want be associated with it. Spokesman Charlotte Heath said: "After discussing the issue with the other trustees we came to the unanimous decision that we cannot endorse the use of golliwogs and therefore Miss Endecott has been removed from the competition. We want to make sure that Purbeck Art Weeks is disassociated from anything like that and if people have been offended we would like to apologise." Miss Endecott, 55, said the rag dolls are synonymous with Enid Blyton books like Noddy, that they are part of English culture and that she sells thousands each year.

"I'm so disappointed that an arts organisation of all things should choose to be censorious," she said. "After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, millions of people took to the streets to assert the Western value that no one has the right not to be offended. The arts, it was said, were a precious arena where freedom of speech could challenge narrow mindsets. It would seem that the lessons of Paris have not filtered down to this sleepy corner of Dorset. Freedom of speech is about persuading others to your way of thinking by robust and reasoned argument through any medium - my medium was words on a tea-towel with a golliwog motif." She added: "It is about time the English started celebrating our culture. The golliwog is a part of our culture and no one needs to be offended by it.

"You cannot ban bits of history you don't like, history is part of our country. I sell thousands upon thousands of golliwogs in the shop every year. There are so few places to get one these days because most people are too frightened to sell them." The display has also been criticised by the Dorset Race Equality Council, who say the stuffed toys are widely recognised to have racist connotations. Chief officer Adnan Choudry said: "Golliwogs don't just offend black people, they're offensive to people of any race. People used them as a means to abuse black people in the 1970s and 1980s - people still remember those days. I thought we had all moved on but obviously not. I have had dealings with her in the past - I have told her my opinion, that they should not be sold, but she goes on selling them."


Barbwire said...

Slavery is part of our history in the United States, but we don't glorify it as a lovely part of our past--at least the vast majority of us don't.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this is just tasteless.

Better tagline: Racist Nutjob Disqualified for Being a Racist Nutjob.

Jeff said...

One of the things in gray that she disagrees with is nationalism. Huh.