Tuesday, August 10, 2010

H is for horse, N is for...

For real. H is for horse, S is for swan, N is for negro.

These children's erasers were spotted by my friend Jo in a stationary shop in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. They seem to hark back to a bygone era - when no one thought it unacceptable to depict a black baby caricature as just one of a series of animals.

Except of course, these weren't manufactured in a bygone era, these are new. Not sure if they were actually made in Malaysia, but you'd think it'd have to be somewhere in Asia, since there are very few people of African origin there, and the last few decades of progressive thinking in the West about black people has mostly gone unnoticed.

Personally I would have gone for "newt", "numbat" or "narwhal".

Maybe they are made by the same company that made this.


  1. I don't know much about the mindset of Malaysians, excerpt that many of them have similar features to black Africans and are dark-skinned, so it's troubling that many of them (or the powers that be in Malaysia) thinks this is alright.

    I guess it's another example of how US culture influences the world in the most negative way.

  2. @ Mel:
    To be fair to Malaysians, this is the work of one company. And this came to me via two Malaysians.

    That said, I guess no one involved at the manufacturing or consumer level was aware of why it would be inappropriate, or at least be passionate enough to pursue a complaint. As I said, not many black folks in Malaysia, and few others would feel motivated to champion their cause.

    I understand where you are coming from when you refer to the similarity between Malaysians and black Africans, but the reality is in Asia, very few people would think that way. They would laugh at such a suggestion; they'd be much more focused on what separates them from Africans than what makes them similar.

  3. It's not so long ago that you cuold buy "Darkie" toothpaste in Indonesia, with a cartoon "minstrel" type negro on the tube. It's changed to "Darlie" now, and still used to have the minstrel image, but I haven't seen one for a while now.