Controversy as Golliwogs to be pulled from Australian shelves

"We're talking about an innocent, benevolent, beautiful black doll."
"We're talking about an innocent, benevolent, beautiful black doll." Photo credit: Getty

Australia has been plunged into controversy after a major toy wholesaler said it would likely stop supplying Golliwogs to retailers.

Soft toy manufacturer Elka ships hundreds of thousands of the toys around Australia. Now it says its likely to discontinue supply.

National sales manager Jan Johnco says while some people see them as an "innocent toy", golliwogs offend others who "don't want to hear the truth about them".

"Now 'gollies' were in 30-odd years ago, and then they ran their cycle, I guess kind of like the yo-yo. The yo-yo might come back and it might never come back," she told Yahoo News Australia.

Golliwogs became a popular children's toy in the early 20th century, however fell out of favour after being accused of being a racist symbol.

During the controversy over their continued sale in Australia last year, Johnco defended the doll's existence.

"These dolls have got a very honourable past and I don't think it's fair to inflict any sick connotations of racism onto something that's got nothing to do with racism," she told ABC.

"People need to get a grip, it's a doll. We're talking about an innocent, benevolent, beautiful black doll."

A NSW retailer - who wanted to remain anonymous - told Yahoo News Australia they still sell five golliwogs a week, and those opposed to the dolls are trying to rewrite history.

"The biggest problem is that we want to change history," he said.

"Captain Cook landed in Australia, so we've changed history so he invaded Australia. Did he invade Australia or is that what was acceptable at that time?"

However Aboriginal actress Shari Sebbens says the golliwogs make many Indigenous people feel dehumanised.

"It's really naive to assume that we're not smart enough to assume the racial connotations behind those dolls," she told Yahoo News Australia. "It infantilises us; people of colour. It's a mockery."


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