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  1. ABF
    ABF August 17, 2009 at 3:20 pm |

    The worst part is the quote from the company: “Brass Key, the company that makes the toy, has apologized for the misunderstanding, saying the offensive meaning was not within their company’s “realm of thinking.””

    It kind of screams “Hey, it’s not racist because we don’t think like that. You’re being racist for calling it racist!”

  2. William
    William August 17, 2009 at 3:28 pm |

    Stories like this always have an extra layer of discomfort for me because they serve as a reminder for just how incredibly entrenched and unconscious bias is. When I read Costco’s apology, I read it as genuine, they really didn’t think that maybe this would be offensive, it never entered their minds, they were completely unaware of the context. I know thats true because I’ve been there, because I’ve been completely blind sided by something I should have known better than to say. That aggression, that need for dominance, isn’t even always in conscious awareness.

  3. Sean
    Sean August 17, 2009 at 3:57 pm |

    The white doll says “pretty panda” not “pretty baby.” It’s a fairly important distinction. Monkeys are cute. So are pandas. Neither are people. Historical racism aside, I would rather be referred to as a monkey than a panda. At least the monkey has the decency of being a primate. And I put historical racism aside because, while I think whoever green-lit this toy was guilty of ignorance, I don’t think that they were racist. I believe that overt racism is becoming so unacceptable (and consequently infrequent) that it is possible for people to not be familiar with classical overt racism and this is a case of a person picking the wrong animal to represent the black baby. The history of describing children as monkeys transcends race and I think this is an easy error to make innocently. Maybe next time they will use a koala or a swan.

  4. Persia
    Persia August 17, 2009 at 4:04 pm |

    Ugh.

  5. Sweet Machine
    Sweet Machine August 17, 2009 at 4:08 pm |

    Historical racism aside, I would rather be referred to as a monkey than a panda. At least the monkey has the decency of being a primate.

    Oh hello, it’s a white guy to tell us What’s What! Sean, people of color don’t get to put “historical racism aside.”

  6. SunlessNick
    SunlessNick August 17, 2009 at 4:09 pm |

    I believe that overt racism is becoming so unacceptable (and consequently infrequent) that it is possible for people to not be familiar with classical overt racism and this is a case of a person picking the wrong animal to represent the black baby.

    I don’t buy that, either the infrequency (look at what’s thrown at Obama) or the idea that black people as lesser primates is a generally unknown symbol.

  7. laprofe63
    laprofe63 August 17, 2009 at 4:19 pm |

    All they had to do was call the white baby “lil monkey” and the black baby “pretty panda” with their respective stuffed animals. Then there are no problems.

    Or, do we have problems connecting white to primate? If so, then our problems are deeper than we think.

    Here we are, 150 years after Darwin’s breakthrough, and there are still people trying hard to deny evolution and the simple fact that we all descend from apes. And that we all come from Africa.

  8. Pega
    Pega August 17, 2009 at 4:23 pm |

    @Sean #2

    I think you are a bit naive. Seeing this toy told me an awful lot about Costco and its business practices.

    I can be fairly certain that there are no POC in their development team (as least insofar as toys go), nor are there any POC in their corporate sales, marketing or PR departments. Any POC would have taken one look at the lil’ monkey doll and raised a red flag. Even more disturbing is the idea that there are POC in some of these positions, and their concerns were dismissed. So while Costco’s argument of ignorance may be an honest one, it cannot be excused because in a matter like this ignorance means willful ignorance, and that is as bad (if not worse) than ill intent would be.

    I’m a (white) mother who has raised not only my own four children, but younger siblings and cousins, and now a grand-daughter. In my world, all of these babies were ‘little monkeys’. It’s a term of endearment for me, and I have bought my grand-daughter (age 14 mos) more stuffed monkeys than you can imagine. That being said, as much as this is my favorite term of endearment for babies and toddlers I would never presume to call a child of color a monkey. Regardless of what my intent would be, that child would simply be hearing me reinforce the centuries of racist commentary equating POC to apes. That’s the point behind white-privilege: yes, it’s a harmless little nickname in my ‘normal/white’ world and my children/grandchildren can hear this and get nothing more out of it than being compared to a cute funny furry little animal. To a POC, a child of color, it has a completely different meaning. One that is hurftul and demeaning.

  9. Caitlin
    Caitlin August 17, 2009 at 4:28 pm |

    Sean, I think the fact that the white doll is “pretty panda” as opposed to “pretty baby” is a fair point, but I don’t think it absolves the people who made these dolls of any racism. Maybe they didn’t intend any overt racism, but unconscious racism is still a problem that needs to be confronted, and comments like “Historical racism aside, I would rather be referred to as a monkey than a panda” don’t help.

  10. Lil Monkey vs Pretty Panda « THATS RACIST!

    […] to Sherpaco via Feministe […]

  11. SarahS
    SarahS August 17, 2009 at 4:38 pm |

    I think it’s also worth pointing out that the white doll gets to be “Pretty”, something that is a positive in our culture, while the black doll doesn’t. The black doll gits to be “lil” which is pretty much just a diminutive. Even if this doll set didn’t come with the racist monkey bullshit, it would still be reinforcing this idea that the white girls are better.

    laprofe63 suggests swapping the dolls, but I’ve never seen one of these black and white doll choices where the black doll get the better wordage or animal choice then the white one. Barbie used to do this all the time in the early 90’s — the black barbie always got the uglier outfit, the bad name, the less valuable animal or sidekick. I remember one Barbie from when I was a kid, like a ‘dolphin princess Barbie’ (or something like that) where the white barbie came with an actual dolphin but the black barbie got a sea turtle. You would NEVER see that flipped.

  12. Jadey
    Jadey August 17, 2009 at 4:47 pm |

    And the consequences of the monkey trope are not trivial, and should not so easily be put aside.

  13. Tera
    Tera August 17, 2009 at 4:48 pm |

    WTF, Costco?!

    I also think SarahS’s point is important re: the white doll is “Pretty,” while the black doll is just “Li’l”

  14. Linoleum Blownaparte
    Linoleum Blownaparte August 17, 2009 at 5:08 pm |

    “The history of describing children as monkeys transcends race and I think this is an easy error to make innocently. “

    Except the white doll is not described as a monkey. The division appears to be based purely along racial lines. If there were multiple versions of the dolls so that the monkey/panda theme were present in both races, you might have a point and Costco might have a leg to stand on (not to mention a more interesting doll line), but there weren’t.

  15. chingona
    chingona August 17, 2009 at 5:19 pm |

    I find it absolutely unbelievable that adult white people in this country could not know the connotations of referring to black people as monkeys or apes. Maybe little kids might not know, but adults would know.

    I’m white, and like Pega, it’s not unusual for me to refer to my own son as a little monkey, but I would never, never, never use this term either to a child of color or, frankly, even to refer to my own child while within ear shot of a child of color (like at the park or at daycare or some such). I mean … just give me a break. This is not even subtle or hard to understand. This is common courtesy that costs the person who does it nothing.

  16. peanutbutter
    peanutbutter August 17, 2009 at 5:59 pm |

    Oh teh stupid, it burnssss…!

    On #3 — sure that can happen, and in fact I still learn about things that are racist that I didn’t actually know about (eg, the racist watermelon patch at the white house email made no sense to me until I went and looked up the historical context). But you know why that happens? Cause as a white person, *I can afford to overlook this stuff*. I have the privilege of ignoring and not knowing about this stuff. But you know what? That doesn’t make it any the less racist, it isn’t an excuse, and it’s still incumbent on me to go look up and find out for myself what’s going on instead of bleating about how gosh, it can’t be because Privileged Me (TM) doesn’t know anything about it!

    So, yeah. Teh stupid, it continues to burn….

  17. Alyssa
    Alyssa August 17, 2009 at 6:02 pm |

    A commenter on another blog posted this link: http://www.q13fox.com/news/kcpq-081409-monkeydoll,0,909278.story
    According to this both the monkey and panda dolls come in three tones: white, black, and in between (most likely to represent Hispanic). I normally don’t trust Fox news, so I went to the Costco website to see for myself. The monkey doll has been pulled, but the panda doll does appear with all three, leading me to believe the monkey doll probably was too until it was pulled.
    This does not change the fact that the black “lil monkey” doll was a bad idea at the very least, but it does change the story quite a bit. This leads to a new question… why did the media that originally picked this story up distort that information? The media needs to be careful not to distort the truth as these stories get picked up elsewhere (like this blog) and end up spreading like wildfire. Once the truth is discovered, it looks bad on all parts, and hurts our cause. (I’m not putting any blame on Feministe or other blogs that have picked up this story- you were relying on the media to do it’s job correctly and it seems to have broken down somewhere along the way)

    Also does anyone know for sure what dolls were on the shelves? Was it possible that the black “lil monkey” doll and the white “pretty panda” doll were the only ones on the shelf or were all six dolls there? Can’t seem to find news coverage that explains how this story got distorted.

  18. Jadey
    Jadey August 17, 2009 at 6:25 pm |

    It sure wouldn’t be the first time that black dolls got left on the shelf. (Okay, only tangentially related, but, damn, toys are political.)

  19. Jadey
    Jadey August 17, 2009 at 6:42 pm |

    Also, I don’t think the story has really been distorted that much. The point is that a black baby doll called “Li’l Monkey” is fundamentally different than a white baby doll called “Li’l Monkey”, even if both are on the shelves.

    This is one of the most insidious effects of modern racism — the burden of recognizing it never falls on white people. I’m one of those raised “colourblind” and liberal white people, and I was brought up to wince and stutter and physically lean away at any indication of overt, classical racism, but not bat an eyelash at anything that was coded in “acceptable” language or shrouded with an “innocuous” explanation.

    Monkeys are cute, monkeys are fun, lots and lots of kids like monkeys, but none of that changes the fact only some kids are at risk for having a derogatory, warped, and dangerous “monkeyhood” thrust on them by a bigoted social structure (as recent political cartoons remind us). Particularly sucks for black kids who love monkeys.

  20. megara
    megara August 17, 2009 at 6:52 pm |

    I also love how it smacks of “we didn’t mean to be racist, so it doesn’t count.”

    Um…no.

    That theme seems to come up a lot in our culture, and it’s just more ignorance showing through.

  21. SnowdropExplodes
    SnowdropExplodes August 17, 2009 at 7:44 pm |

    When I saw the image of the “L’il Monkey” doll, I went nought-to-nuclear in an instant. Consequently, this post is more full of obscenities than my usual measured prose…

    And I don’t buy the “Oh, we didn’t mean it that way” shit either – if you’ve got a PR department, then it’s their fucking job to be aware of this kind of shit BEFORE you get a shitload of complaints coming in, right?

    You don’t need to look very far for evidence of the vicious and vile use of the “monkey” image in racist abuse, either. Sean @ #3 – just in my lifetime, “monkey noises” and other references to monkeys or apes have been directed at Black sportsmen (in soccer, especially) – in the 1980s it was British racists doing it. More recently (that is, in the last couple of years) we’ve seen it in Spain and in other European countries. Seriously, if you think this shit is “infrequent”, then you’re not living on the same planet as the rest of us.

  22. Dale
    Dale August 17, 2009 at 8:01 pm |

    When I heard about this, I assumed that the doll was a Chinese import and that the manufacturer wasn’t aware of racial history in the US. But Alyssa’s link mentions that the manufacturer is based in Washington state and has been doing business for 28 years!

  23. laprofe63
    laprofe63 August 17, 2009 at 8:29 pm |

    @Jadey, I hear ya. Too bad there are so many negative self-images perpetuated within the black community that reinforce or reproduce the larger discourse. Those need to end too.

    It’s pitiful that there were no voices within the company to save them from this kind of public outing. Maybe now the higher-ups at Costco will see the benefit of greater diversity at all levels of the organization.

    Personally, if both dolls came in all shades, and all of the varieties were up on the shelves, I’m not as upset. We ARE all lil monkeys and we’re all equally far from or close to the source. The genetic differences that divide us are so minimal as to be inconsequential. We are all from the same African Mother. And chimpanzees are our closest relatives.

    Some people still cannot deal with that simple fact, and that it applies to all human beings alike.

  24. nena
    nena August 17, 2009 at 9:20 pm |

    FACT: There are multiple ethic groups with the lil monkey hat AND multiple ethic groups with the pretty panda hat. It is unfortunate that this story IS pitting BLACK against WHITE and people are falling for it (believe EVERYTHING you see in the media…it’s good for you). Shame! The people who put this out; from design to store shelf did have “people of color” making this selection. Happy for them that they don’t exist with RACE at the forefront of their lives….THIS DOES SAY SOMETHING ABOUT OUR COUNTRY; NOT SO MUCH RACISM GOING ON FOR THEM!!!

  25. harkin
    harkin August 17, 2009 at 9:24 pm |

    While you’re all going on about how racist the toymaker is, I hope you’ll take time to understand that the doll in each set (both ‘lil monkey’ and ‘pretty panda’) came in both black and white doll versions (and hispanic if you care to know). Portraying this as the black doll being the only one wearing a ‘lil monkey’ cap is either dishonest or lazy reporting.

    Check the costco website where the pretty panda sets are still on display and offered with three doll versions, african american, caucasion and hispanic.

    I know this won’t make a difference to those who wish to see racism everywhere but I thought I’d take a stab at offering a more complete set of facts.

  26. jussayin
    jussayin August 17, 2009 at 11:07 pm |

    I find it highly unlikely that Brass Key (the doll makers) did not know they were making a racist toy. All of these toys go through consumer surveys. Is Brass Key trying to insinuate they did no market testing? Or such limited testing that they didn’t have anyone say to them that a black doll named Lil Monkey was racist? At any rate, Brass Key as of now, does not acknowledge the controversy on their website.

    Brass Key is a woman-owned business, btw.

  27. Nicolecarnegie
    Nicolecarnegie August 18, 2009 at 12:56 am |

    to Laprofe63’s statement:
    “We ARE all lil monkeys and we’re all equally far from or close to the source. The genetic differences that divide us are so minimal as to be inconsequential. We are all from the same African Mother. And chimpanzees are our closest relatives.
    Some people still cannot deal with that simple fact, and that it applies to all human beings alike.”

    Even as a White female, I dont believe in evolution. Some of us are Christians. If you want to believe you came from a monkey fine by me, but dont subject everyone else to ur beliefs.. Thats a problem with some people, they tend to speak as if they are speaking for an entire race.. As if what they are saying is the law…. May be the reason some people get the wrong ideas about us….. Jsut a thought..

  28. Smite Me! » Blog Archive » links for 2009-08-18

    […] n Feministe » Costco and The Lil’ Monkey Doll […]

  29. emmo
    emmo August 18, 2009 at 7:31 am |

    @Jadey, I think it’s clear from the comments here and on other sites where this has been discussed that the choice to present this as “Black Lil’ Monkey and White Pretty Panda Dolls” has distorted the story and changed the way it is discussed. There’s a big difference between making a Lil’ Monkey doll in 3 different races (which implies ignorance of racial issues and still is not a good idea given that the black doll taken out of context will always appear to be the result of racism) and the story as presented that the company made the black doll the lil’ monkey while making the white doll the pretty panda (which would more clearly imply racism). I won’t pretend to defend the doll in any way, but I agree with Alyssa that the way the story has been presented in the media has certainly influenced the course of the discussion surrounding it.

  30. William
    William August 18, 2009 at 9:22 am |

    Historical racism aside

    Well, there’s you problem…

    while I think whoever green-lit this toy was guilty of ignorance, I don’t think that they were racist.

    The two are not mutually exclusive. Unless the designer of the toy grew up in a Skinner box you can all but guarantee that they have been exposed to the kind of racism that many posters here have objected to. They are familiar with it, it is a part of our cultural narrative. The bigger issue here is that ignorance, especially on the part of white people, can be a form of racism in itself. You don’t have to be hanging ropes from trees or denying a black person a job to contribute to the overall culture of racism. In a society that is inherently and intrinsically racist ignorance and inaction have a default racist orientation.

    I don’t buy that either CostCo or the maker of the toy were behaving with malice or trying to offend black people, but the intent here is irrelevant. Putting the label “lil Monkey” on a black doll conveys a specific message, intended or not, and is likely to be experienced by a significant number of people as a direct attack upon them. Its like swinging a bat in public: just because you don’t know to make sure you don’t hit anyone doesn’t make it less dangerous. In this case you have a very common racist image, perhaps innocently offered, that conjures and reinforces racism. How many white people walked past the doll and snickered to themselves? How many black people walked past and just looked away because they didn’t have the energy? How many people of color, not black but not white, interpreted the dolls as a message about social space and knowing your place?

    Thats the danger of ignorance.

  31. Nicola
    Nicola August 18, 2009 at 9:25 am |

    As I sit here and read what happened, I am still so amazed at how much hate still exist in this country, or should I say around the world. When will we learn that we (human beings) are just destroying ourselves, when we degrade one another, intentionally or otherwise. I use to have so much hope for this country, now I am not so sure anymore. The privlege would wheter see this world destroyed, than have to share their power with others. God have mercy on our souls, and what will be, will be.

  32. Brandy
    Brandy August 18, 2009 at 9:50 am |

    What if the monkey was with the white baby doll and the panda was with the black baby doll? All I can say at moment is WOW! I showed my mom the pic of the doll before giving her the story..she thought it was adorable. After explaining her first question was..Was it a white doll (or other races) with a monkey also? Further explaining and all she could say was WOW!

  33. Azreal
    Azreal August 18, 2009 at 10:11 am |

    OK the bottom line is this WILL NOT be accepted by anyone on any level at anytime anylonger! Whites have gotten away with this for far to long, Only because WE have allowed them to thinking that “their still gonna do it anyway”, well, that’s gonna change asap!

    No more excuses for overt racism as this clearly was! your not gonna convince me that the makers of this “toy” had NO racists intentions, that’s a bunch of BULL! hell even the cartoonish image of the “monkey” looks more human than primate!

  34. Alyssa
    Alyssa August 18, 2009 at 11:24 am |

    @William:
    Very well put. I think the majority of people feel that if racism wasn’t intentional, then it’s okay. But, intentional or not, it still hurts people; it places a divide between white people and POCs. The intention of the offending person is moot. And the offence can never be undone. I personally feel the when a person is unintentionally racist, the only way to redeem themselves is to really look inward, and understand how they’ve hurt people. Then they need to take steps to ensure that they don’t do it again, and eventually help the people around them understand why this type of behavior is wrong.

    Just as a clairification- I didn’t put that link up in order to justify the doll. I put it up because I saw evidence that we are discussing a news story without all the details. The details do not justify the racism, but they do change the discussion at hand.

  35. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers August 18, 2009 at 11:59 am |

    I suspect, as another poster pointed out, the biggest problem with this is not that Costco or the company that made the dolls are deliberately racist, especially since the dolls did come in all racial shades, but that Costco doesn’t have anyone in the PR department who is a person of color, that no person of color in acquisitions saw this, that no person of color in management saw the doll before it went to the shelves… which implies a pretty whitebread corporate culture.

    Even if your headquarters is in Vermont or Minnesota, where the black population is very very small, if you want to be a national company you *have* to consider that pissing off 13% of the population plus all their allies is pretty much always a bad idea, and you need to have someone checking this shit, and if that means you hire a specialist PR company made up of people of color who check merchandise for accidental slurs against blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, in fact everybody, then you do that.

    (Is there such a company? There should be one. There should be fact-checking companies run by feminists with gays, lesbians and transpeople of both sexes on staff to check for misogynistic, sexist, homophobic or transphobic content in toys; there should be fact-checking companies run by disabled people with top staffers who are blind, deaf or wheelchair bound and some people with invisible disabilities as well who check for ableist crap; there should be companies run by Arab Muslims with top staffers who are Jewish, atheist, Buddhist and pagan who will check for religious slurs or slurs against atheism; and there should be POC-run companies that check for slurs against people of color, and any company that’s serious about not insulting its customers should run its merchandise or its advertising past these consultants. I’m serious.)

    I would not have noticed the monkey slur. I’m white. I’m an agnostic Darwinian who proudly embraces my monkey heritage. To me, the image of a baby paired with a monkey reclaims cuteness and family-friendly values for rationality and belief in evolution. But I’m white. No one ever called me a monkey to insult me. So I can afford to embrace my inner monkey, and I don’t know jack about what it means to be black and have that thrown at me to literally make me be seen to the world as an animal. I can totally believe Costco didn’t intend the insult, because if I’d been upper management at Costco I wouldn’t have seen it either. But the point is that the entire population of upper management at Costco shouldn’t be like me. (They’re probably not, anyway, because I’m female. But in terms of POC issues, they’re like me. They have white privilege, so they don’t notice this stuff.)

    Sad thing is, the doll makers probably made all of them white and then decided to release them in different races to increase their inclusivity! Something that’s a good idea for a white baby doll doesn’t necessarily work for a black baby doll because of a long history of racism. But if you *start* with “everyone’s white” and proceed from there to “everyone is just like a white person, anyway”… well, that may be a needed first step in overcoming racism, but it’s a baby step. But I hope the lesson the doll makers and Costco learn is “check your merchandise for offensive stereotypes”, not “don’t make/sell black baby dolls.” We already have a hard enough time with that.

  36. ZAKIA FLEMING
    ZAKIA FLEMING August 18, 2009 at 2:09 pm |

    I’M GOING TO PRAY FOR THIS COMPANY. THEIR STUPID AND HAVE NOT RELIZED IT YET. GET A CLUE AND USE IT.

  37. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe August 18, 2009 at 2:46 pm |

    “Stop comparing people of color to animals” should be high up on the List of Easy Ways to Mitigate Racism, right below “stop committing violent crimes, then blaming them on imaginary black men.”

  38. DT_Esq
    DT_Esq August 18, 2009 at 3:37 pm |

    THANK YOU!!!!

    You have beautifully expressed all of the emotions I felt when I saw the freshly arranged display of dolls on the COSTCO floor for purchase.

    I went through the boxes, and I really did not care that a Caucasian doll had anything on its forehead, and the “pretty panda” issue, ugg!! There were no African-American “pretty panda” dolls available in Greensboro, NC–I was looking!!

    What no one has seen in the media are pictures showing more monky images on the side of the box, and “little monkey facts” on the back of the box that makes it VERY DIFFICULT for an educated individual to believe that a US company which apparently has a contract with DISNEY (see Brass_key.com) did not understand that African American consumers would take offense.

    When we went to some “supervisors” on the floor, one female who put them out on the floor said “that’s so cute”… and never claimed to understand what was offensive.

    Well, thanks… we have enjoyed knowing that speaking up about this matter was worth it to more than just “some” people.

  39. Alternate View
    Alternate View August 18, 2009 at 6:15 pm |

    First, let me state that I am a white man, so I am very likely not as sensitive on this topic as the women of color that are – justifiably – up in arms over this issue. One thing that I am sensitive about is insatiable drive toward outsourcing everything possible for the sake of the quick profit, regardless how much it hurts us in the long run.
    Everyone please imagine the following scenario:
    This doll was designed and manufactured in China, where no cultural sensitivities are offended and – in the company’s own words – the doll’s offensiveness is “beyond the realm of thinking”. So the doll was manufactured and offered to the distributors who have outsourced their product reviews/purchasing to either China or India, both places with vastly different social sensitivities. The doll purchase was then given as a batch of goods priced by the ton and reviewed by a Costco purchasing agent either in India/China. Even if the agent was in America, he is probably counting the days till his own job is outsourced, and doing due diligence on the purchases he is responsible for, ranks just below caring whether Costco makes its Christmas sales projections.
    I am not familiar with the details of how toys make their way from Shanghai, China, to Anytown, USA, but I am guessing the scenario I describe above isn’t all that far from the reality. Given that, does anyone think that in our present harsh economic climate and rampant corporate greed, it is more likely that 4-5 racists colluded to manufacture and distribute a racist doll, or that 4-5 foreign individuals with little to no clue about American cultural sensitivities blindly followed a procedure written by American workers before they were laid off so their jobs could be outsourced?
    I think it is the latter. Here is one more sad side effect of the rampant outsourcing of our country.

  40. What?
    What? August 18, 2009 at 8:03 pm |

    #36 – Could you provide a link to back up your statements? The doll manufacturer is Brass Key – an American company.

  41. So Tired of It!
    So Tired of It! August 18, 2009 at 8:28 pm |

    I am a woman of color!

    Nobody seems to point out that there were dolls with the “little monkey” hat on WITH A STUFFED MONKEY that were White, Hispanic AND African-American, (or Jamaican, Africa, Puerto Rican, Domican Republican, or wherever it may be from). There was ALSO the series of Pretty Panda, which ALSO depicted a White, Black and Hispanic doll. Are we too quick to jump the gun? And why do we automatically assume the doll is African American? Why can’t it be Cuban, Jamaican, etc.? Is it wrong to feel that just because it is Black, it is African American? Once again, do we jump to conclusions too quickly?

    The doll, which came as a set of 3 dolls, each being of a different nationality, it is fine when displayed as a set of 3, but when singled out, it suddenly becomes oppressive. There is the sarcastic side of me that says, “Did the monkey get offended to be parodied as a white child?” Yet, at the end of the day, when products are outsourced from countries not familiar with the absurdities that occurred within America, therein lies the problem.

    What everyone needs to remember, is what is done is done. Not everyone who is Black is my friend. Not everyone who is White is my enemy. And, just because someone is Black does not mean they automatically get my respect. Yes, it was a bad move for Costco to not catch this doll before it hit the shelves, but it was a good move that they pulled it immediately upon being noticed that it was offensive. I am particularly impressed that not only were the Black dolls removed from the shelves, but the White and Hispanic dolls in this series were also removed. Isn’t that what equality is all about?

  42. DT_Esq
    DT_Esq August 18, 2009 at 9:01 pm |

    Dear Alternate View— Brass Key is a US Company that sent good money to China to have a bad product produced. Then COSTCO employees in the US made a bad decision to buy it.

    You obviously have not seen the entire box that contained the doll, nor did you call COSTCO to ask what happened… as we did.

    But, interesting imagination on that scenario.

  43. DT_Esq
    DT_Esq August 18, 2009 at 9:05 pm |

    Oh, yes, outsoursing has been a major blight to the textile, furniture, etc… businesses that previously abounded in North Carolina.

  44. Alternate View
    Alternate View August 18, 2009 at 9:59 pm |

    I am not saying that anything of what I wrote above is a fact. Please don’t interpret it as such. I am saying that in my experience, I simply can’t imagine someone so racist — let alone several such people — that they would consciously risk their job to demean little black girls. I simply put forth an alternate explanation based on the fact that we have shipped all our knowhow – cultural or otherwise – to China and left a bunch of “managers” here who are supposed to manage offshore production, but are more scared for their own jobs than concerned about the quality of their work or the company’s image.

    Brass Key is an American company, so is Mattel, but I dare you to find a single of the latter’s product that says anything but “Made in China”. To my experience, the term American company just implies that at one time, the corporation was registered in the US.

    Let me give you a true anecdote from the animation industry. A script for a film states: “Cut to snowfall” The context is that there is a television set involved in the plot line, and the snowfall connotes that the action needs to abruptly stop and be replaced by the snowfall you see on a TV set when the antenna is unplugged. The “product” returned from abroad shows a room with a TV set, and suddenly it starts snowing in the room. Abstract yourselves from the racist overtones of the lil monkey incident and tell me how this is different? If a local artist would have drawn the cartoon would he have ever drawn snowfall in a room? Would an american product manager be racist/crazy enough to green light a product which would infuriate the very customers he is trying to satisfy? What’s the motivation? Attract racist non-black parents who want to instill racist stereotypes to their children, or self-hating black parents who want to perpetuate them?

    That’s my alternative take on the situation.

  45. Jadey
    Jadey August 18, 2009 at 10:40 pm |

    @ Alara Rogers

    I’d say that there’s no reason that the only people qualified to point out oppression are the oppressed. In fact, the way that burden gets put on opppressed people is part of oppression itself (although it *would* be nice if there was a cheque in the mail to compensate for energy spent on constant 101 and bullshit ignorance like these dolls). Employment opportunities are nice, but people are more than just one facet of their identities.

    I’d wager that there may have been black people (POC meaning more than just black people, for the record — not every POC will know every stereotype of every other group) working at this company who saw the product along the way (I don’t know the actual numbers, but it’s not impossible, certainly). But what if they felt uncomfortable speaking up? What if they did, and weren’t listened to? Why must the burden always fall on one person to stand up for their entire group, especially when these groups are not monoliths? The white people working for this company *ought* to have been more than capable of dealing with racism without requiring a black person to be present. That’s what anti-racism is about (IMO).

    @ Alternate View

    I’m not terribly interested in engaging with your points given your focus on a pet cause and your lack of founded justification for why it’s relevant in this case. One rebuttal I will make, however, is that, yes, it is entirely likely that 4-5 individuals might develop and sell a racist doll even if they ought to know (or do know) the connotations of the doll design. It’s called privilege and, dare I say, the racism inherent in the system.

  46. dasha
    dasha August 19, 2009 at 2:04 am |

    DT_Esq: interesting imagination indeed! My father will go to any length to try to imagine a version of reality where he can maintain his privilege and deny that the systems of racism and patriarchy ever rear their ugly heads. It gets old. He always has a “what if” scenario and never considers that we’re not exaggerating or “playing the race card.” No, Dad; No, “Alternate View:” — “what if” the world isn’t some hybrid fantasy of the privileged in which racism simultaneously “isn’t that big of a deal” and “no longer exists.” “What if” you shut up and listen to the marginalized, who have a lot more experience living with and deconstructing prejudice. You might just learn something.

  47. Alternate View
    Alternate View August 19, 2009 at 9:27 am |

    Apparently, I have spoken heresy. Yes you are all right, the only reasonable explanation is that many white people colluded to make this racist doll. The fact that I had an alternative explanation is because I am not a person of color: I bring biases based on my experience, while the rest of you do not.

    What’s more the best way to discount my point is to attack me personally for not being in tune with the true reality. I also learned that a POC who doesn’t speak up against a racist action is just oppressed, while a member of the white majority is expected to speak against it, or else he is racist. That would be because white people shouldn’t be scared to lose their jobs as a result of speaking out, while POC are allowed this luxury.

    Good luck and thank you.

  48. V for Vegan: easyVegan.info » Blog Archive » Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 7

    […] Renee @ Feminist: Costco and The Lil’ Monkey Doll […]

  49. WhoCares
    WhoCares August 19, 2009 at 3:36 pm |

    Do you people really think that all these companies, Brass Key, Costco and others involved got together and decided to throw away money/resources on a product that will clearly be objected by the “oppressed” crowd and pulled off the shelves JUST so they can say they did ?! Just so that a few “racist” execs can get a laugh in some corporate board room ?! Or maybe this was done on a dare ?! or a bet ?!

    Really ?! Perhaps THIS is the alternate reality that you all speak of. Because as I see it, during these economic times (or not) it would be a complete suicide for any company to produce/sell this type of a product.

    And for the record the white baby isn’t called “pretty lady” it’s called “pretty panda”. But then again, I suppose our eyes see what our minds wants us to see…. that’s the alternate universe that each and every one of us lives in.

  50. WhoCares
    WhoCares August 19, 2009 at 3:36 pm |

    oh and by “you people” I mean – YOU people.

  51. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub August 20, 2009 at 9:52 am |

    Given the history of equating Black people with monkeys, it would have made no difference to me if I saw White dolls labeled as Lil’ Monkey as well as Black dolls. I still would have flinched at that–and for Hades’ sake, I’m a White woman who can be pretty clueless when it comes to matters of race.

  52. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub August 20, 2009 at 9:55 am |

    Alternate view, to say that the commenters here are accusing the dollmaker of “conspiring” to make a racist doll is disingenuous on your part. Most people here said that they believed Costco and the manufacturer weren’t being knowingly racist–that racisim is often unconcious thanks to White privilege.

    If you are going to make an argument, please do so in good faith. While you’re at it, please drop the trope that people disagreeing with you means that you’re being branded a heretic. That shit gets old and moldy fast.

  53. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers August 20, 2009 at 11:07 am |

    Jadey says:
    I’d say that there’s no reason that the only people qualified to point out oppression are the oppressed. In fact, the way that burden gets put on opppressed people is part of oppression itself (although it *would* be nice if there was a cheque in the mail to compensate for energy spent on constant 101 and bullshit ignorance like these dolls). Employment opportunities are nice, but people are more than just one facet of their identities.

    Well, I inherently agree with you, but I think if there was a fact-checking company looking for racism that didn’t employ POCs for the majority of their top staff, people would say “what’s wrong with this picture?” White, straight, Christian American males *should* be sensitive to every form of discrimination and -ism that there is. But they aren’t, because it doesn’t hurt them. White women should be sensitive to racism. But we’re not, as various kerfluffles in the feminist blogosphere have proven over and over, because it doesn’t hurt us. Black men should be sensitive to misogyny. They’re not. Christians in America should be sensitive to religious discrimination. They’re not. So on and so on.

    In an ideal world, everyone should be on board with the mission of stopping discrimination of all forms. In the world we live in, I would rather give individuals who were affected directly by the discrimination, and who have chosen to take on this task, the job. (I agree that it should not have been the job of the one black guy in management at Costco to speak up — and no, I don’t know if there’s one black guy in management there, but I know for a fact there aren’t *enough* black people that they could have caught this *and* felt comfortable bringing it up.) If you *know* that you, personally, don’t really know all the ramifications of a particular discrimination because you haven’t lived it, then there should be someone you can hire to check for it, and if there’s someone you can hire, either they have to do boatloads of research or they actually have to have people who suffer that discrimination on staff. I’d rather hire the anti-discrimination-checkers who employ people who suffer the discrimination they’re checking for because in the real world they will do a better job at it.

    As I was saying… as a white woman I would not have caught this, not in the context of “there are three races of doll, and three animal companions, and each race of doll occurs with each animal companion.” It would never have occurred to me that being sensitive to racism would have meant *excluding* the black doll from one of the animal companions. (I would have noticed if the black doll *only* got to have a monkey, but with white dolls who get monkeys and black dolls who get pandas, it would have gone right over this clueless white chick’s head.) And I actively *try* to be sensitive to racism. But I wouldn’t have caught it. My instinct would have been to say that to be inclusive, every kind of animal should be paired with every race of doll.

    And it turns out that that’s wrong. And if I’d been that executive who okayed this, and I hadn’t run it past a POC who was willing to do this kind of analysis, I would have made the same mistake Costco did. (I agree, you can’t just grab any black person off the street and ask “is this racist?” That’s equally offensive. I’m talking about going to someone who has expressed willingness to do the job of making sure clueless white people don’t offend, who gets paid for it.) That’s why I can absolutely believe that neither Brass Key nor Costco intended anything directly racist — they weren’t thinking “black = monkey”, they were thinking “cute white baby doll + cute animal = profit. Wait, we gotta make some of the baby dolls black and Hispanic too so the black and Hispanic kids don’t feel left out.” So they made one of each kind of doll for each kind of animal and never *thought* about the fact that they were pairing black baby dolls with monkeys.

    This does NOT EXCUSE IT. This wasn’t active racism, “heh heh I’m gonna make a comment about black people being monkeys.” This was white privilege at work, where everything is about white people and their issues and the black people are added in in post, as an afterthought. That’s… maybe not as bad as active malice, but it’s damn well not good, either.

    Had they started from the position of “We want to make racially inclusive dolls, so we want to have a line of black baby dolls, white baby dolls and Hispanic baby dolls, and we want to put them with cute baby animals”, had they been *thinking* about the black baby doll and the specific issues and challenges she presents, they might have made the connection. But they didn’t. I mean, I can’t read their minds, but I’ve been a white liberal for 40 years and I know how white liberals think about race. We fuck it up all the time because we add the black people in later; we don’t foreground them, we don’t think about them *first*. The first thought is always the white issues and the black issues come later if at all. This is a natural human tendency that takes a lot of experience and education to overcome, but it’s wrong nonetheless. Men do it to women too; Pixar isn’t being deliberately sexist by refusing to do a movie about little girls, they’re just putting boys first because they are men and used to be boys. It’s not malicious, but it is *wrong* and because it’s a natural human tendency we all fall into with whatever privileges we own, unless we work like hell to overcome it, we *should* be paying people who don’t have that privilege to check for the issues that affect them, because we will probably get it wrong unless we have worked our asses off to understand the issues of people who aren’t like us.

  54. ARPhilo
    ARPhilo August 20, 2009 at 1:01 pm |

    This is obviously a complicated issue. But, as many on here have said, this reporting is inaccurate, acting as if the only black doll was “monkey” and that the only white doll was “panda” when in fact there were black and white dolls for both.

    That being said, I am sure costco, being a huge corporation, is all kinds of racist and messed up. I wouldn’t choose the dolls color as a way to exemplify that but perhaps the fact that they were likely made in sweatshops or made of toxic materials or that costco probably pays genders and colors differently than white men.

    One thing that has been very saddening in reading these comments is the rampant speciesism that no one seems to even notice as playing a role in this. Humans ARE animals. Yes, the monkey-black thing is a historically racist thing, but as we have shown here, there were lil monkeys of all colors. The fact that so many people began jumping on different animals, which were more worthy than others, how some are cute and some aren’t, how a sea turtle is less than a dolphin (wtf?!), and how humans are somehow not animals (even though they are).

    I have noticed this again and again on this site- the complete lack of recognition for the intersectionality between human and other animal rights.

    ALSO, WHY is comparing a white baby to an animal not a problem, but comparing a black baby to an animal is? I’d say that alone is racist! Or it’s speciesist because one is claiming that one animal is ok as a comparison but another is not. Likely it’s probably both.

    This whole thread has a million misconceptions and problems on top of a misleading report about a product.

  55. laprofe63
    laprofe63 August 20, 2009 at 1:40 pm |

    @ NicoleCarnegie: “Even as a White female, I dont believe in evolution. Some of us are Christians. If you want to believe you came from a monkey fine by me, but dont subject everyone else to ur beliefs.”

    SORRY. Evolution is NOT a belief, or an opinion. It is FACT. And it applies to all of us who have blood in our veins, genes and genetic material. Perhaps you Christians are made of starshine, but the rest of us are flesh and blood. Believe what you want, that won’t change the fact that you are a primate and a descendant of AFRICANS.

    @ Alara: “But I’m white. No one ever called me a monkey to insult me. So I can afford to embrace my inner monkey…”

    Precisely. That is why it was simply stupid on the toy maker’s part to be so ignorant of the potential offense. And Costco is doubly stupid, for having such a monocultural corporate climate. I hope this cost them a lot of money!

  56. Kristin
    Kristin August 20, 2009 at 4:25 pm |

    Okay, so let me be clear: I do not agree with the fundamentalist Christian person who posted here. That said, those of you who are going on about primates being the ancestors of humans are derailing this thread. This thread is not about evolution. If you are really unaware of the history of comparing Africans and African-Americans to apes (the trope used to justify the European slave trade, and a comparison made *not only* in the United States), then you should really google it. You may also want to google “examples of Ku Klux Klan propaganda.” This is the kind of shit that they put out.

    Also, Renee, I wanted to thank you for this post. As I understand it, Costco has always sold itself as a sort of “progressive” version of Sam’s. They are much friendlier toward labor, for one thing, and think of themselves as a more “ethical” business. It’s good to see how they deal with POC issues though. I guess I won’t be joining any time soon after all… I just boggled when I saw that this had happened there. I mean, wtf??? I didn’t buy the bullshit about it being a “misunderstanding” when photos of “natives” with spears showed up in Amanda’s book, and I don’t buy it from Costco either.

  57. Muse142
    Muse142 August 21, 2009 at 2:02 am |

    I love this post, and I also love approx. 65% of the ensuing thread.

    I’m learning a lot from reading here. Thank you!

  58. angiek
    angiek August 21, 2009 at 3:24 pm |

    Now, to be fair, there’s a monkey version of the White doll, Black doll, and Hispanic doll as well as panda versions for all three races (http://contexts.org/socimages/2009/08/16/black-lil-monkey-baby-doll/). I can’t tell from the video if Costco only stocked the Black monkey doll and the White panda doll or if they stocked all six variations. If they only picked the Black monkey doll to stock and none of the other Black dolls then there’s a problem. But I accept the company’s apology and I personally don’t feel they did it on purpose. They stock way too many products to look at this one and go, “Why yes! We totally want to be racist with our kids toys because this will subtly reflect our ideologies about race to consumers. Mwahahahaha.” While claiming “not to know” about racial stereotypes is not an excuse, to my knowledge Costco doesn’t have a track record of being racist so I hesitate to totally avoid them because of this one issue. I just hope the people in charge of buying products for the stores learn a lesson from this. Just because certain types of racism might not affect some buyers for the company doesn’t mean they can act as if they don’t have to think about it. If they continue allowing products that can be read racistly in their stores then I might have to change my mind about shopping there. Thank you for posting about this, though. It’s always good to keep an eye on businesses where I shop and it brings up for discussion America’s continuing problem with casual racism.

  59. Jamaica
    Jamaica August 24, 2009 at 7:06 am |

    HIT ‘EM WEAR IT HURTS:
    It’s time to show the world that we Americans have actually learned from our past, and it’s also time to teach the new generation of American
    children how to make a difference with dignity and great power.

    I say let them make their dolls, we don’t have to purchase them. The laws of supply and demand are on the side of the right this time. If we don’t purchase the dolls for our children, they will not sell them, and the demand will lessen; thus, the doll maker will not like what they see on their balance sheets.

    I actually am hoping that America uses this hype as another way to learn how to handle things, and make a stand in the world. As a Black/Hispanic American, I would like to think that our nation’s citizens learned from the activists of the Civil Rights Movement. If we stand together, in great numbers against the injustices of the world, and we do not falter when the going gets rough, we will be heard without ever uttering one single word to the press. We don’t need Al Sharpton for this one…it’s too easy to defeat.

  60. Jadey
    Jadey August 24, 2009 at 8:42 am |

    Wow, I missed the last few days’ development of this thread…

    Can I say that the phrase “casual racism” is one of the most obnoxious and misleading things I’ve ever heard? Why are people in this thread so bound and determined to rank acts of racism, as if that makes a difference? The point is *not* the individual data points — it’s the social ecosystem of racism and white privilege, where small unintentional “casual” acts and large deliberate (“formal?!) acts work hand in hand to create a poisonous environment. Yes, it’s a doll — shouldn’t the issue be how bad things have gotten when something as simple as a doll can be endowed with so much hate through sheer symbolism? It’s not a little whoops, it’s an expression of how much power Whiteness has, that its weapons appear to be so casual.

    Why is there so much emphasis on coming up with explanations for how this happened? Is anyone really confused about how it happened? I thought that Whiteness and white privilege pretty much covered that part. Yet still the “helpful” explanations come. Has anyone coined a word for the White version of “mansplaining”?

  61. Virginia Virgo
    Virginia Virgo August 24, 2009 at 11:33 am |

    I hope all posters who have a problem with this is telling all their friends not to buy anything from Costco again. Apology or no apology, I won’t.

  62. Reader
    Reader August 25, 2009 at 4:53 pm |

    Costco and the company that manufactures the dolls are both phony.

    They knew what they were doing — they just want to make some of those “I hate Obama” dollars. All those FOX NEWS, Rush Limbaugh listener dollars.

    Some people hate to see the racial hierarchy change into equality.
    It is just like the stupid “So Easy A Caveman” commercials. If YOU are the minority always belittled, somehow it is not funny.

  63. Effects Of Advertising On Self Esteem
    Effects Of Advertising On Self Esteem August 26, 2009 at 11:00 am |

    […] Feministe » Costco And The Lil’ Monkey Doll […]

  64. Blatant Racism!
    Blatant Racism! August 26, 2009 at 12:38 pm |

    This is blatant racism – there is no other way to describe this marketing concept. Lil Monkey should never have been used in any concept – it definitely missed its mark. I don’t care how many sorry’s are implied – it’s wrong! We need to unite all races together; instead, of trying to separate and divide them. Stop the racism!

  65. wowzers
    wowzers August 26, 2009 at 4:48 pm |

    Come on..whoever don’t see this as racist is clearly blind!! Of course everyone who does stuff like this would like you to think that they didn’t mean it in that way and then offer some type of apology that may not even be genuine but seriously, what were they thinking? the average person knows the connotation of calling a black person a monkey…it’s no secret the terms and phrases used for racist purposes. I hate to think these people have been living such a sheltered life that they were unaware of that. And the damage is already done despite that they are “off the shelves” now. Phbbt!!!

  66. Cheryl
    Cheryl August 28, 2009 at 1:36 pm |

    @ all of us that know, seen, heard, felt, experienced racism, we can sit and comment all day. We need to make some noise to Costco and to the media to expose this mainstream. We should not only stop shopping there but also stand up in front of Costco’s doors and in the parking lot and scream.

    If you believe for one minute, the store did not see racism, then I must inform you that you are a racist.

  67. Angela
    Angela August 29, 2009 at 12:50 pm |

    I think the “outrage” is ridiculous. I am a “POC” and I sat down with the website and my 5year old daughter and without leading questions or emotion, I asked her which doll she preferred (between brown doll with monkey and white doll with the panda). She asked which one i wanted her to have – POINT#1 children will generally adopt the views of their parents. I said it didn’t matter it would be her doll so she gets to choose. She chose the brown doll with the monkey but said she wished she could have the panda. I offered the white doll with the panda and she said “Nah, I like the brown one” So I read the names on the hats and asked what she thought about her doll wearing that name and if she was sure she didnt want the other doll. She said “It’s ok I’ll change the name”. POINT#2 We have to teach our kids to preserve their own positive self image rather than let someone else tell them who they are and what their brown skin represents.

    My daughter didn’t care about a silly name because when it belongs to her SHE CAN CHANGE IT!

    Regardless of the history of racist symbols we are aware, don’t let it ruin your kids resilience. We have become a nation of wimps because we wanto people to ‘remove all of the uncomfortable’ character building elements of LIFE!

    The ‘players’ in the civil rights movement weren’t successful because all elements of racism were removed. It was successfull because they chose to change legislation and access to education so that those coming behind them could PURSUE EXCELLENCE in order to create the image they wanted to see.

  68. Sasha
    Sasha August 31, 2009 at 7:55 am |

    Lets refer to the white baby as lil pig or lil piggy and maybe they will get it then…

  69. Ren
    Ren August 31, 2009 at 11:50 am |

    For those of you who did the research and found that the Lil Monkey dolls come in 3 races…GOOD FOR YOU!…that still doesn’t negate the fact that a black doll was called a monkey to begin with. People of color have always been called monkeys, coons, apes, alligators, etc. If the PR department for Brass Key had done their research, then the white doll would have been the monkey and the black doll would have been the panda and this would not be an issue. Toy makers pair dolls with animals all the time. It’s cute. But you must be careful and know your history; OUR history before making careless mistakes such as this.

  70. MoniQue
    MoniQue August 31, 2009 at 10:46 pm |

    I was floored over this until I saw the other dolls in the same lil’ monkey theme. I can understand the anger wholheartedly and it hurt me to see the doll side by side with the so called “Hispanic” one with the panda on another site. But to include it on a black baby period stems from ignorance. Ignorance straight from North Carolina, where slavery existed from ignorance (and hate).

    Speaking of ignorance, the “Hispanic” doll is disturbing, not the way the doll looks, but the label. Here’s some things to ponder:

    1) At least 30% Hispanics are in fact Caucasian, at least in Mexico. Please know “Hispanic” is NOT a race, it is a culture consisting of all 3 races mentioned above. The Spanish language is from Europe, Spain. The Spaniards mixed with the Indians and I believe this is who people are referring to when they say “Hispanic.” South Americans and other “Hispanic” countries are filled with Spanish and Italian Caucasians. Agentina has about 70% with Italian surnames. And we do not separate each other by color there, nor in Mexico, nor in Cuba.

    Only in America is this done.

    http://campello.tripod.com/hispanic.html

    2) The fact is that in every so-called “fine university” they teach evolution from monkeys. This is the real crime and where reducing a black person to the status of a monkey is perpetrated. No human being should be reduced to the status of an animal. The truth is that this theory, and that is what it is since it’s been disproven by real scientists, is a big problem.

    3) Know this: God’s animals would be offended to know that we equate ourselves with them in the first place. They never fell from grace in the garden, we humans did. To me, animals are better than most people, so I would never feel insulted if called any animal myself. Many people today do things animals would NEVER do (sodomy, rape, genocide, and more).

    4) Our materialism is also way out of control. I personally do not see the purpose in including a banana or depicting a baby as a monkey or a panda in the first place. Why reduce a baby to an animal? Yes, I know some parents lovingly refer to little kids as “little monkeys,” but to put them in doll form eating a banana with the label “Lil’ Monkey,” I fail to get any cute connection myself. Why are we making babies in the status of an animal in the first place?

    Then again, Americans are currently committing genocide against babies in the form of abortion now.

    Which brings me to my last point:

    5) Throughout history when one group of people committed crimes against humanity, they always did so by first equating them to the status of an animal. The truth is if we respected animals in the first place there would never be a lower status. Think about THAT.

  71. Simplyamazed
    Simplyamazed September 2, 2009 at 8:21 pm |

    Angela there have been people through out oppressed history who have not understood the “outrage” of those who cried out against their oppression. Because you don’t see it or don’t think your five your old was bothered does not negative what others feel and believe.

  72. Ben
    Ben September 4, 2009 at 2:33 pm |

    I understand how putting an african american baby doll with a monkey and calling it little monkey could be considered racist. You also are putting it next to the ‘pretty panda’ white doll makes it seem pretty horrible as if all the black dolls were monkeys and all the white dolls were pretty pandas. but by leaving out the fact that there were black, white, and hispanic monkey dolls AND black white and hispanic panda dolls you are misleading your readers

  73. femme noir
    femme noir September 21, 2009 at 6:04 pm |

    Assuming Costco’s buyers are professional marketers, they knew when the product was put on the shelves that it would likely end up being pulled. But the purpose has already been served: A psychological seed was planted. I wonder how many were sold. More importantly, children gravitate to toy displays – how many children saw the display and have that image imprinted in their minds?

  74. Ellen
    Ellen October 18, 2009 at 5:18 pm |

    I’ve been impressed by the care and insight of this thread. Jadey said it best (for me), “This is one of the most insidious effects of modern racism — the burden of recognizing it never falls on white people,” and how many of the white people who wrote were in fact looking at our own responsibility to be aware of, and speak against, racism wherever it appears.

    Okay, then, on that note, I just heard, have notseen with my own eyes, that the black monkey doll was still on the shelves at two Costco stores in North Carolina on Sept. 4. They were pulled from one on the spot. On the website (today), only the Pretty Panda is listed, with dolls in three colors. Maybe the dolls are all off the shelves by now, but maybe those of us who shop at Costco should keep watch anyway.

  75. JessSnark
    JessSnark October 18, 2009 at 8:25 pm |

    There’s a lot going on in this thread and I can’t possibly respond to all of it, but I don’t want to let MoniQue’s derogatory reference to sodomy stand unchallenged (or her reference to abortion as genocide). Without causing a total derail, I’d just like to say that that’s not ok.

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