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Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Race row over black ‘monkey’ doll

Isn't it common for white people to say "you little monkey" to their kids? I thought it was.

Article from the (black) voice newspaper.

US retailer, Costco are at the centre of a race row following their decision to stock a black doll with the words ‘lil monkey’ on its hat and bib.

John Taylor and his wife, Donna made a trip to the members only store, which is the fifth largest general retailer in the United States, in Greensboro, North Carolina and were left dumbfounded by the doll, who also holds a monkey and a banana in her hand.

The Taylor’s contacted the company’s head quarters to complain about the offensive product and while their efforts succeeded in getting the doll pulled from the Greensboro store, it is believed that the doll is still on sale in other stores in the US.

Outraged customers and public have joined on various internet forums hoping that their united front will spur Costco to remove the product from all of its stores.

One user, Charlene commented: “Here again is an example of racism. You have taken a doll that could be used to make some child happy and turned it into a ugly symbol by placing a monkey alongside it. What message were the makers depicting?”

While Shirl Elizabeth furthered this notion by adding, “Racists are falling out the closet all over the place, especially evident by many offensive comments about our president by seemingly intelligent people. No wonder Costco thinks it’s okay to sell racist items without backlash. Hopefully people will repay in kind by refusing to spend their dollars where they are woefully regarded. And this especially applies to the manufacturer of the product, not just the seller!”

Though many also argue that the term ‘lil monkey’ is often applied to children of all ethnicities, others say that it is also a term employed by racists to denigrate black people.

Mary Gustaff CEO of Brass Key, the company that manufactures the ‘Cuddle With Me’ doll series, said that her company did not intend the slogan ‘lil monkey’ as racist slur and says that Brass Key ‘don’t operate in that kind of thinking.’

She said: “It’s so unfortunate because now it’s being 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?”

Arthur Jackson, vice president of general administration for Costco, has since waded in to the row, telling an American online magazine that all versions of the ‘Cuddle With Me’ doll have been removed from Costco stores as soon as they began to receive complaints.

He later said: "We offer our sincere apology to anyone who was offended. That was surely never our intent."


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