The Royal Adelaide Show has been caught up in a racism storm after three controversial golliwog dolls won the top three prizes on a handicrafts display, sparking outrage on social media.
The show has been forced to remove the offensive dolls and issue a public apology after they were branded racist by an Indigenous community group on Facebook.
Deadly Yarning from South Australian Aboriginal Communities group shared photos of each of the three dolls on their page, slamming the show for ever allowing them to appear, while other attendees claimed they should be “ashamed of themselves”.
“When you go to the 2018 Royal Adelaide Show Royal Adelaide Show only to see #Racist Dolls being awarded 1st 2nd and 3rd places in the Judging… WTH,” the Facebook page’s organisers wrote alongside the photos.
Meanwhile, another Twitter user added pictures of the dolls too, writing: “The Royal Adelaide show should be ashamed of itself for allowing racist dolls to partake in competitions and be given awards – #Gollywog #Racism.”
It sparked a stream of angry comments from other social media users, with one commenting on Facebook: “The ignorance of people is astounding. Adelaide is still stuck in the 50’s.”
Another added: “Boycotting that show from now on, can’t claim ignorance, it’s 2018,” and one wrote: “Why are people still making these? Must be completely ignorant.”
However, others defended the entries and one even wrote: “I had Golliwog dolls as a child, how about people stop making everything racist,” before adding: “How about you all get of your PC high horses.”
And one 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.”
Following the backlash, the show itself apologised in the comments section of the post and wrote in a statement: “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.”
One of the Facebook group’s administrators, Janette Milera, slammed the show for allowing the dolls in the first place, admitting she felt “disgusted” that they were still being made. She told the ABC: “I couldn’t believe that in 2018 we’re still having to discuss such things as golliwog dolls, and why people do not understand why they are so offensive to people of colour.”
They were reportedly submitted in the ‘children’s soft toy’ and ‘cloth doll’ categories of the handicrafts competition.
Golliwog dolls were created by American-born cartoonist Florence Kate Upton and first appeared in popular culture in the late 1800s.
They first faced criticism in the ’60s, with some saying they were a racist characterisation of African American slaves and performers. They are still sold in a few Australian stores and in many other parts of the world, while activists continue to fight for their removal from sale and most modern parents shun them as toys for their children.