Saturday, January 8, 2011

Little Black Sambo Books

The University of Chicago has just received a donation of Little Black Sambo books. For those of you lucky enough not to have seen these stories, they revolved aroung a stereotypical-looking little black boy, written by a British woman and set in India.
Sambo still lives on. I have British friends, one only a few years older than myself, who remembers her Grandma sewing Sambo/golliwog dolls for both herself and her younger brother when they were children. When she told me that, I was mortified on her behalf that this would be acceptable. These images promote ideas about those of African descent having comical features and being toys to laugh at.
The problem with Sambo is obvious, and I'm thankful that this was one racially-charged image I was able to avoid as a child. But I'm glad this collection will be at a university, where researchers can study it and say "Yes, this is another example of how terribly racist society was, and how they were teaching it to children."

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