An Australian market has drawn controversial attention from the Aboriginal population of Australia for featuring racist tea towels at stores.
Melbourne University’s pro-Vice Chancellor Ian Anderson visited the Flinders Market along with a young group of Aborigines during the Easter weekend. The stalls at Mornington Peninsula in southeast Melbourne had a rack of colourful tea towels with labels like “Good Golly” that symbolised Gollywog dolls and “Picanninny,” an offensive term used for kids with dark skin, according to the Daily Mail.
According to reports, the designs of the towels featured young black figures, which looked like children. The Gollywog on the towels was originally designed in America and depicted an African-American person that also grabbed huge attention in the UK as well as Australia during the 70s. Anderson said that they felt sick to their stomachs when they came across those brands and their sketches.
“They have a kind of superficial charm about them, they’re sort of innocent. They’re the sort of thing that is part of kids’ stories. But they are deeply out of place in Australian society,” Anderson told The Age. “What’s at the core of them is a really disturbing stereotype of indigenous Australia, of black people. It’s naive and out of place.”
Anderson said he was shocked to see the bare sketches on the towels. “They did not see themselves as an apron-wearing domestic servant, or a naive stupid object for children. That’s what’s so jarring about it. It’s almost like a photocopy of an idea from our colonial past,” he said.
When Fairfax Media approached the organiser of the market, he said that the tea towels have not been seen yet. He added that the stall contents were yet to be vetted by the organisers.
Picaninny is an abusive racist term that is used for small kids with dark skin. On the other hand, Golliwog is the term well-known among Australian audiences as the word used in the context of people’s complexion.