Helen Martin: Innocents, not racists, liked gollies

A golliwog doll on sale in Harrods toy department in 1962.  (Picture: Getty)
A golliwog doll on sale in Harrods toy department in 1962. (Picture: Getty)
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I’m relieved The Museum of Childhood made the correct decision to keep golliwogs on display.

Perhaps young people think those of us old enough to have had a golly were five-year-old bigots, but they don’t appreciate gollies were as loved as teddy bears. We didn’t think of a golliwog as a black “human”. He was a toy, unlike our beautiful black dolly babies we “nursed” alongside our blonde ones.

In 50s Scotland, most young kids had never seen a real black person or even heard of slavery until they studied colonial history at secondary school. The only black character they knew of was little black Sambo, a much-loved literary hero.

That’s the history from a non-global time – we were innocents, not racists.

READ MORE: Edinburgh museum will not removes golliwogs – despite complaints