Racism row erupts over golliwog dolls at Royal Adelaide Show


Organisers of the Royal Adelaide Show have been forced to apologise following backlash over three golliwog dolls appearing in the show’s handicraft competition.

Photographs of the dolls were uploaded to the Deadly Yarning South Australian Aboriginal Communities Facebook page on Sunday, which quickly sparked debate in the comments that followed.

“When you go to the Royal Adelaide Show only to see racist dolls being awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in the judging,” the caption to the photos read, accompanied by angry-faced emojis.

Many of the 95 comments with the post agreed, with some pushing to boycott the show.

“Absolutely disgusted that they were accepted in the first instance for judging,” one woman wrote. “Shame Adelaide show!”

The golliwog dolls on display sparked outrage in the South Australian Aboriginal community. Source: Facebook/Deadly Yarning from South Australian Aboriginal Communities
The golliwog dolls on display sparked outrage in the South Australian Aboriginal community. Source: Facebook/Deadly Yarning from South Australian Aboriginal Communities

“Boycotting that show from now on, can’t claim ignorance, it’s 2018,” another woman said.

“The ignorance of people is astounding. Adelaide is still stuck in the 50s,” a man added.

But not everyone viewed the dolls as offensive, with some questioning how the American-based dolls tied in with Aboriginal culture.

“Please explain where the racism comes in? I have four of these wonderful little toys and they have absolutely nothing to do with the aboriginals. By the way I am an indigenous Australian as I was also born in this country,” one person wrote.

“What a weird and strange society we are becoming, I bet the people who made the dolls had no intentions of offending anyone. I also bet they won because of the quality they were made to,” another said.

The Royal Adelaide Show commented on the post, confirming that the dolls have been removed from display.

The Royal Adelaide Show confirmed the golliwog dolls had been removed after the backlash online. Source: Facebook/Deadly Yarning from South Australian Aboriginal Communities
The Royal Adelaide Show confirmed the dolls had been removed after the backlash online. Source: Facebook/Deadly Yarning from South Australian Aboriginal Communities

“There are variety of traditional dolls entered in the handicrafts competition including Parisian dolls, Japanese dolls and African dolls, however the dolls above have been removed from the display. No offence was intended,” the reply read.

The show’s general manager Michelle Hocking told ABC the dolls were also taken down to protect the people who made them.

“We also did that to look after the ladies, as well, who have entered the dolls, because some of the comments that were coming through were very offensive, they were very personal,” Ms Hocking said.

The black dolls date back to 1895, when artist Florence Kate Upton illustrated her children’s book with depictions of a ‘Negro minstrel doll’.

Upton’s character was loveable although “a horrid sight”, while later versions of golliwogs were often portrayed as “unkind, mean-spirited and even more visually hideous”, according to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia.

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