Golliwogs and Other Things
I have visited the Jim Crow Museum site and am completely amazed at what I have read
there. What a gift you have given in providing information never before addressed
anywhere. For example, I was under the impression that Golliwog dolls were benign
and were based on children's books which I (stupidly) thought were something other
than what they have turned out to be! In fact, a few years ago, I had ordered one
of these dolls from England, not having an awareness of their pejorative intent.
While I'm on the subject of true confessions, I'll have to say that I collected a
pair of salt and pepper shakers, like the very Mammy one that you broke. I thought
they were "cute."
Having lived in the north most of my life, and out west for only four years or so,
when I was in my twenties, I have not seen the ugly side of prejudice. Before now,
there have been virtually few African-Americans living in New Hampshire. Recently,
we have had an influx of real Africans who are being assisted by church groups in
establishing a new life here.
I wonder how much of what parades as bigotry is not based on malice after all but
in a lack of awareness on the part of white folks, like me.
So far, I have only had time to read two of your essays - about Golliwogs, and why
you collect rascist objects. What you have said comes through loud and clear. Material
objects which depict your people have been and are a source of real psychological
hurt and pain for you, and you have struggled and succeeded in establishing yourself
as a credentialed professor, in spite of any obstacles, some of which you note.
Thank you for sharing your experiences in a poignant and graphic way. I am certainly
much more cognizant of the greater implications of certain material objects and the
ways in which they could influence thinking. I don't blame you for wanting to get
the collection out of your home and away from small children. I hope that now that
they are older, they will realize all of your accomplishments, including your ongoing
work to spread knowledge of the Black Experience in America.
I wish you a fine day,
-- Feb. 17, 2006
BACK TO LETTERS