Custom Search 1

The big business of clueless racism

BIG BUSINESS: Golliwogs have now been removed from Enid Blyton's books

FATHER FORGIVE them, for it seems no matter how many times they insult us they still know not what they do.

A week after sport brand Adidas was forced to pull its line of “shackle” trainers, TopShop – the world’s largest fashion store, apparently – is the latest company to show a complete lack of regard for the black consumer.

It is currently stocking a retro t-shirt online and in selected stores using a print of an old world map from the days of Empire – a period of history I doubt many are desperate to revisit.

On the back of the summer Map Print Tee, which costs £25, the west coast of Africa labelled as “Nigritia” – in other words, “Negroland”.

The south of the continent is emblazoned with the less subtle “slave labor”.


FASHION FAUX PAS: This t-shirt on sale in TopShop depicts a world map dating back to 14th century Africa with the words 'slave labor' (sic)

Form an orderly queue, people. Who doesn’t want one of these “fun, youthful, designs” which is what Blackstone Design Ltd’s Tee and Cake, the brand behind the t-shirts, claims to be all about?
Perhaps they should consider other adjectives: insulting, insensitive and out-of-touch, for a start.

The t-shirts have, however, proved popular. They currently have four out of a possible five-star rating.

“A real eye catching top, every time I wear it I have loads of comments and compliments about it. I love the print and it’s really unusual”, reads one review.

RECOMMEND

“I would recommend [the t-shirt] to anyone looking for something quirky and unusual”, gushed another satisfied customer.

Perhaps a visit around Cape Coast Castle in Ghana (the former British colony of Gold Coast) would cure these unassuming fashionistas of their ignorance?

Do they know what their “quirky and unusual” item of clothing represents? Have they even looked, I mean, really looked at what it is they’ve purchased?

Before the “don’t be so sensitive” brigade starts, let’s imagine, just for a second, how well a retro map of Nazi-occupied Poland would fare on the stand?

It really does appear that when designers, marketing and advertising executives put their heads together the meeting is completely devoid of all tact or cultural and historical sensitivity.

A TopShop spokeswoman said: “We apologise for any offence that may have been caused by the print of this concession t-shirt which is the image of a map that dates back to 1340 -1600. 

“The map and wording is factually correct for the period in which it was created, we believe the historic look of the print is the aspect that appeals to our customers.

To the extent that the wording is noticed, we trust that customers would recognise the reference to ‘slave labor’ as acknowledging a period in history when there was an appalling slave trade and that there is no glorification or positive connotation that customers would be encouraged to infer.”

Anyway, if these shoppers are looking to fill their shopping baskets with of racially-insensitive products, we’ve rated a selection of the worst.

................................................................................................................................................

1. Vogue ‘slave earrings’

In August 2011, Vogue Italia was attacked for an article it published proclaiming the virtues of the humble hoop earring, which they dubbed “slave earrings” – inspired “by the women of colour who were brought to the southern Unites States during the slave trade”. Is it just me, or were women during the slave trade more likely to be adorned with a cattle prod, than jewellery? Just saying. The magazine has since come to its senses and changed the name to “ethnic earrings” – whatever that means.

Offensiveness rating: 5/5

..........................................................................

2. Dreadlock hats

No all-inclusive package deal to the Caribbean would be complete without buying one of these hat-and-hair combos (while making a mockery of the entire Rastafari system of beliefs.) Not only can tourists mix with locals, they can (allegedly) dress like them, too. It’s what any self-respecting modern day minstrel would do…

Offensiveness rating: 2/5

..........................................................................

3. Golliwogs

Ah. An old classic: the hideously offensive sub-human caricature of African features: woolly hair, big red lips, and skin so dark the whites of the eyes are ready to pop out and juck and jive. Golliwogs have now been removed from the Enid Blyton books that made them famous, but the dolls are still sold in antique shops and are sought-after collectors items.

Offensiveness rating: 6/5 (yes – they’re THAT bad)

..........................................................................

4. Afro dish sponges

Washing dishes isn’t anyone’s favourite household chore. So, how
about spicing things up by taking ye olde average dish sponge and fashioning it into an afro? Throw on a snazzy Seventies suit and call him the King of the Disco. It’s all a bit of fun, right?

Offensiveness rating: 3/5

..........................................................................

5. Adidas “shackle” trainers

It almost makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? You love your Adidas JS Roundhouse Mids so much you just to chain them to your ankles. 147 years of freedom, and you want to pay to put shackles back on? Gives new meaning to the expression “slave to fashion”. (See what I did there?) Never mind the fact that they were probably made in some sweatshop somewhere where they are probably made by some grossly underpaid and overworked teenager with tiny nimble fingers. Thanks, but no thanks, Adidas. Thanks for taking them off our shelves.

Offensiveness rating 4/5

Subscribe to The Voice database!

We'd like to keep in touch with you regarding our daily newsletter, Voice competitions, promotions and marketing material and to further increase our reach with The Voice readers.

If interested, please click the below button to complete the subscription form.

We will never sell your data and will keep it safe and secure.

For further details visit our privacy policy.

You have the right to withdraw at any time, by clicking 'Unsubscribe'.

Facebook Comments