Customers derail Stockholm’s leading department store’s "golliwog" Christmas


Unlike the vast majority of the Dutch and Belgian public who embrace racial sterotypes at Christmas, Swedes, at least Stockholmers put an end to a racist display in a store window this week.

Reported by Charlotte West and Paul O’Mahony in The Local.se

Stockholm’s most prestigious department store, Nordiska Kompaniet (NK), has had to remove a set of black ragdolls from its Christmas window display after receiving a number of complaints from concerned customers.

A visit to NK’s Christmas displays has been a part of Stockholmers’ staple holiday traditions ever since 1915. This year’s theme was ???A dream Christmas???. Puppies, dragons and polar bears danced side-by-side with sugar plum fairies and… what appeared to be golliwogs.

When the windows were first available for public consumption on Sunday, one featured three of the black dolls emerging from a Christmas package.

“The company that does our window displays gets a lot of its stock from Germany,” NK spokeswoman Sofie Stenbeck told The Local.

“They went there to buy the dolls. But they ended up getting a lot of e-mails from customers, who said that the dolls looked like golliwogs,” she added.

A golliwog is a black ragdoll that was originally a literary character created by English author and illustrator Florence Kate Upton in the late 19th century.

These dolls, with their jet black skin, lipstick red lips and fuzzy hair, became a popular children’s toy. They resembled the characters in the American minstrel shows, comedies that often stereotyped black people as bumbling idiots.

The golliwog was also used as the mascot of British jam manufacturer James Robertson & Sons from 1910 until the company’s products were boycotted as offensive in the early 1980s.

According to Sofie Stenbeck, NK was also contacted by members of the public who found the dolls inappropriate.

“When we looked at the window again we saw that the dolls were very similar to these golliwogs. We took a decision to remove them. Of course they shouldn’t be there if they cause offence,” she said.

By Wednesday the dolls had been replaced by a toy spider and a stuffed turtle.

Christiane Taubira


Christiane Taubira, born in Cayenne, French Guiana, is a French politician. She ran for the office of President of France in 2002. Her party agreed to support the Socialists in 2007 so she didn’t run in France’s most recent Presidential election. President of her party Walwari, she has served as a French deputy at the National Assembly since 1993, and was re-elected in 1997. Non-affiliated in 1993, she then voted for the investiture of the conservative Edouard Balladur cabinet in 1993. In 1994, she became a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), being the fourth on the ??nergie Radicale list led by Bernard Tapie. In June 1997, she then joined the Socialist party (PS), and then-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin (PS) commissioned her for a report on gold search in Guiana.

Christiane Taubira gave her name to the May 21, 2001 law which recognizes the Atlantic slave trade and slavery as a crime against humanity. In 2002, she was a Left Radical Party (PRG) candidate for the presidency although she does not belong to the party. She gained 2.32% of the votes. After 2002, she became vice-president of the Left Radical Party. She was elected again as deputy on June 16, 2002, and joined the socialist group in the Assembly.

Curriculum Vitae

Etat civil

N?? le 02 f??vrier 1952 ?? Cayenne (97300)

Profession

Economiste

I – Formation sup??rieure

??conomiste (1er, 2eme et 3??me cycle de Sciences ??conomiques ?? Paris II – Assas et Panth??on) Sociologie et Ethnologie afro-am??ricaine (Sorbonne et Jussieu) Agro-alimentaire (3eme cycle CFCA : Centre Fran??ais de la Coop??ration Agricole Paris et Bordeaux) Langues ??trang??res : Anglais, Espagnol, Portugais.

II – Exp??rience professionnelle

Ancien Professeur de Sciences ??conomiques, ancienne Directrice du CNAM (Guyane), Ancien Directeur ou Directeur G??n??ral de Caricoop (Coop??ration agricole Antilles-Guyane) ; Atpag (Services techniques de la p??che maritime) ; Occe (Coop??ration et Commerce Ext??rieur avec la Cara??be, les 3 Am??riques, l’Asie du Sud-est).

III – Fonctions ??lectives

D??put??e de Guyane ??lue en 1993, r????lue en 1997, 2002 et 2007 ; Membre de la Commission des Affaires ??trang??res, D??put??e au Parlement Europ??en ??lue en 1994 (un mandat de 1994 ?? 1999) ; Membre de la Commission D??veloppement et Coop??ration, Membre de la D??l??gation UE/ACP.

IV-Actions l??gislatives (s??lection sur dimension internationale)

Auteur de la premi??re proposition de Loi visant ?? interdire la fabrication, le stockage, la vente et l’usage des mines anti-personnel (MAP) f??vrier 1995,

Auteur d’une r??solution du Parlement Europ??en pour l’interdiction des MAP ; Mars 1995, Rapporteur ?? l’Assembl??e Nationale de la Loi d’interdiction des MAP, Membre de la D??l??gation Officielle fran??aise ?? la Convention Internationale d’Ottawa (Canada) pour l’interdiction de production, de stockage, d’exportation des MAP (d??cembre 1997),

Rapporteur ?? l’Assembl??e Nationale de la loi de ratification par la France de la Convention internationale d’interdiction des MAP,

Membre de la D??l??gation Officielle fran??aise ?? la Convention Internationale de Maputo (Mozambique) pour l’??valuation de l’application de la Convention d’Ottawa (juin 1999),

Auteur de la proposition de Loi visant ?? reconna??tre la traite n??gri??re et l’esclavage comme crime contre l’humanit??. Texte adopt?? par le Parlement fran??ais le 10 mai 2001, promulgu?? par le Pr??sident de la R??publique fran??aise le 21 mai 2001 sous le n?? 2001-434.Texte co-sign?? par le Premier Ministre et huit ministres concern??s par ses dispositions (??ducation, recherche, Justice, Culture et Communication, Affaires ??trang??res, Affaires Europ??ennes, Int??rieur, Outre-Mer),

Intervention devant le Conseil Ex??cutif de l’Unesco pour plaider la n??cessit?? de l’adoption de lois nationales et d’un texte international de reconnaissance du crime contre l’humanit?? et de r??paration par des politiques publiques cibl??es (octobre 1999),

Membre de la D??l??gation Officielle fran??aise ?? la Conf??rence Internationale contre le racisme, la x??nophobie et l’intol??rance qui lui est associ??e ?? Durban (Afrique du Sud, septembre 2001). Conf??rence-d??bat ?? Durban de pr??sentation de la loi fran??aise n?? 2001-434. Intervenante dans le panel de l’Unesco consacr?? aux liens entre esclavage et racisme ?? Durban, Rapporteur du Budget de l’Action Humanitaire de la France (1993, 1994, 1995),

Rapporteur pour le Parlement Europ??en des relations entre l’Union Europ??enne et les pays ACP (Afrique, Cara??be, Pacifique) dans le domaine de l’Environnement et du D??veloppement durable),

Auteur d’un rapport command?? par le Premier Ministre sur l’activit?? mini??re en Guyane et ses retomb??es dans les relations de coop??ration, Rapporteur de Conventions fiscales entre la France et divers pays de la Cara??be.

V – Activit??s compl??mentaires

Membre de la Commission Fran??aise de D??veloppement durable (nomination par le Premier Ministre), Membre de l’Observatoire National de la Parit?? (nomination par le Premier Ministre), Membre du Conseil Consultatif de la D??fenseuse des Enfants (Claire Brisset).

VI – Th??mes prioritaires du travail l??gislatif et politique

Education – Jeunesse – Recherche – D??veloppement durable – Environnement – Droits des Femmes Droits des Enfants -Coop??ration et G??ostrat??gie des bassins r??gionaux (Am??rique du Sud, Oc??an Indien, Pacifique).

VII – Engagements divers

Contributeur de Handicap International, Membre de la Ligue fran??aise des Droits de l’Homme, Membre de l’Human Rights Watch, Membre de ECPM (Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort), Parrainage d’enfants (prise en charge mensuelle des frais de scolarit??) : S??n??gal, Br??sil, Actions pour la suppression de la dette des pays du Sud.

VIII-Autres missions internationales

Observateur parlementaire aux premi??res ??lections multiraciales en Afrique du Sud (avril 1994), Membre de la D??l??gation Officielle fran??aise ?? l’investiture de Nelson MANDELA, Mission parlementaire sur le droit des Minorit??s en Afrique du Sud (septembre 1994), Membre de la D??l??gation officielle fran??aise ?? l’investiture de M. Thabo M’B??ki, Pr??sident de la R??publique Sud-Africaine (juin 1999), Membre de la D??l??gation du Parlement Europ??en au Sommet des femmes ?? P??kin (Chine septembre 1995), Membre de la D??l??gation de la Commission des Affaires Etrang??res de l’Assembl??e Nationale au Sommet des femmes m??diterran??ennes pour la paix ?? Marrakech (Maroc f??vrier 1995).

IX -Conf??rences universitaires et internationales

Universit??s fran??aises de Paris-Sorbonne, Paris-Nanterre, Paris-Cr??teil, Bordeaux, Nantes, Montpellier, Toulouse, Lyon, Grenoble, IEP Paris, IEP Strasbourg, Universit?? Antilles Guyane. Divers lyc??es en France, aux Antilles, en Guyane, ?? la R??union. New-York University ; Schomburg Center ; CUNI ; Howard University ; Congressionnal Black Caucus ; Commission Ind??pendante Mill??naire pour l’Afrique (PNUD, B??nin juin 2001).

X – Ouvrages

Rendez-vous avec la Republique. 2007

Codes noirs : de l’esclavage aux abolitions (Introduction). 2005

L’esclavage racont?? ?? ma fille. 2002

Essais sur la p??che maritime ; sur la coop??ration transfrontali??re ; sur l’identit?? et la multiculturalit??. Nouvelles publi??es en ouvrages collectifs (Gallimard).

Bulletin parlementaire mensuel ?? Kayakou ??.

Cap sur l’horizon.

Mattiwilda Dobbs: Legendary Opera Singer and my friend Florie’s aunt

My long lost friend Florie told me that her aunt is an opera singer, but I could never remember her name. Just a while ago my friend Angela shared an article with me about the first graduating class of 10 black women to from Harvard Law School, of which she was one. In that article Angela discovers her Harvard classsmate’s book on Black Expatriates. In that book she sees an entry on Mattiwilda Dobbs whom she remembers as their classmate’s godmother.

When I researched Mattiwilda Dobbs I realised that she is my long lost friend Florie’s aunt, the opera singer I had been told about many years before! Here’s a brief look at her ground breaking life.



Mattiwilda Dobbs has sung in virtually every major concert hall in the United States and abroad, with her sparkling voice thrilling audiences and astounding critics. She is considered to be one of the great coloratura sopranos of our time. With a career that has taken her to every corner of the earth and onto stages of the great opera houses of the world, including the Bolshoi Opera, the Vienna State Opera, Glyndebourne, the Paris Opera, and the Stockholm Royal Opera, she often broke color barriers. Her 1953 debut at La Scala as Elvira in Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri marked the first time a black artist ever sang in that famed opera house. That same year her great success as Zorbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos at Glyndebourne resulted in her first major performance in New York with the Little Orchestra Society. Dobbs desegregated the San Francisco Opera Company two years later. The following year she became the first black soprano to sing at the Metropolitan Opera House and the first black female to sing regularly under contract with that house. Her debut as Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto followed Marian Anderson’s and Robert McFerrin’s barrier-breaking debuts by one year.

Born in Atlanta, Ms. Dobbs sang her first solo at age six, and began her musical studies in piano one year later. She began her formal voice training under the tutelage of Naomi Maise and Willis Laurence James at Spelman College where she graduated valedictorian. Upon graduation Ms. Dobbs traveled to New York to study with Lotte Leonard. While in New York, she was granted a Marian Anderson Award as well as scholarships to the Mannes Music School and to the Opera Workshop at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. She also won a John Hay Whitney Fellowship and used the grant to study French repertoire in Paris for two years with Pierre Bernac, and to coach Spanish repertoire with Lola Rodriques de Aragon in Spain.

In addition to these awards, Ms. Dobbs won the coveted first prize at the International Music Competition in Geneva over hundreds of other singers from four continents. Shortly afterwards, her international career took off with her debut in Amsterdam with the Netherlands Opera, followed by engagements in Paris, London, Vienna, Stockholm, and Milan. Numerous engagements followed, including and invitation to sing a command performance before Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, and visiting King Gustave and Queen Louise of Sweden at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Following the performance she was decorated with the Order of the North Star by King Gustave. Her list of festival appearances is also extensive, including the Edinburgh Festival, Perth (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand), and the Caramoor, Meadow Brook, and Grant Park Festivals in the United States. In Russia, Japan, Australia, Israel, South America, Mexico, Scandinavia, the United States, and all of Europe, she became a favorite with the opera and concert goers and critics.

Source

Although she remained close to her family and performed in Atlanta several times, personal as well as professional considerations prevented Dobbs from making the city her home. She lived in Spain with her first husband, Luis Rodriguez, who died of a liver ailment in June 1954, fourteen months after their wedding. She then married Bengt Janzon, a Swedish newspaperman, just before Christmas 1957. Her family attended the wedding, but because of the stir an interracial marriage would have caused in the segregated South, the ceremony was held in New York, and the new couple made their home in Sweden. Bengt Janzon did not visit Atlanta until 1967.

Following the example set by African American performer and activist Paul Robeson, Dobbs refused to perform for segregated audiences. In Atlanta she could have performed in African American churches or colleges, but she was not able to perform for a large integrated audience until the Atlanta City Auditorium was desegregated in 1962, when she was joined onstage and given a key to the city by Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. It was the first of many performances in her home city. Before the organization of the Atlanta Opera in 1985, Dobbs performed in operas produced and directed by the acclaimed opera singer Blanche Thebom, and in 1974 she sang at the gala marking the inauguration of her nephew Maynard Jackson as mayor of Atlanta.

In 1974, after retiring from the stage, Dobbs began a teaching career at the University of Texas, where she was the first African American artist on the faculty. She spent the 1974-75 school year as artist-in-residence at Spelman College, giving recitals and teaching master classes. In 1979 Spelman awarded honorary doctorates to both Dobbs and Marian Anderson.

Dobbs continued her teaching career as professor of voice at Howard University, in Washington, D.C. She served on the board of the Metropolitan Opera and on the National Endowment of the Arts Solo Recital Panel. Dobbs continued to give recitals until as late as 1990 before retiring to Arlington, Virginia, where she currently resides.

Source

Yearly Blackface: Being in Amsterdam two weekends ago reminded me that I find Zwart Piet very strange.


Part of the Dutch and Belgium Chritsmas tradition is a fellow named Zwart Piet (Black Peter).

Black Peter (Zwart Piet), while now a benevolent companion of Sinter Klaas, was at one time a more sinister character. During the Middle Ages, he threatened to punish the children if they were naughty by throwing them into his sack or giving them switches (coal also?) instead of presents. Today, however, he helps Sinter Klaas distribute gifts, even offering to go down chimneys to fill the children’s shoes, thereby saving the holy Bishop from getting dirty. Black Peter, often depicted as a boy or young man, wears a Moorish costume, probably because Spain ruled over Holland during the 16th century. So Zwart Piet is a Moor. How interesting to have a black character in Dutch and Belgian Christmas folklore.

Now let’s take a brief look at Black Peter’s history:

1845: Jan Schenkman writes Saint Nicholas and his Servant; Piet is described in this book as a servant and as black, not as slave and is depicted as a dark man wearing Asian-style clothes. Steamboat travel becomes part of the mythos from this point. In the 1850 version of Schenkman’s book, they are depicted looking much as they do today. The servant gets his African origin but still has no standard name. In later editions Piet was shown in the page costume, the book stayed (with some changes) in print until 1950 and can be seen as the foundation of the current celebration, even though it did use a lot of older ideas and customs. Barring a very rare exception the relation between St. Nicholas and Pete has always been described as one between employer and employed, between boss and worker, never between owner and slave.

Anybody can be Zwart Piet: The website zoz.nl explains how you too can transform yourself into a Zwarte Piet: “a real Piet can be recognised by his black make-up, red lipstick, perm curls, frilly collar, hat and tights. We refer to Piet as he or him, but Piet can also have considerable female attributes: many helper Piets have real breasts under a loose blouse and abundant, unnecessary space in their puffy pantaloons.”

It’s easy to critisize something you don’t undertand. Some people will say that I am missing the point. The point being that this Black Peter character is demeaning because he was a slave or is a servant, or was described as evil, and he threatens to take away the bad children. I honeslty may think this role was strange even if he wasn’t black.

Frankly what bothers me the most, what I really don’t get is why Zwart Piet is portrayed by a white person in black face. There have been black people in Holland longer than this tradition, so why not have a black person play Black Peter if the Dutch and Belgians are determined to incorporate a black person into their folklore? Is it just a “legitimate” way to don blackface once a year to the delight of young children and for the sake of warm memories for the adults?

I’m not the only person who thinks this yearly display of blackface is quite inappropriate. Here are links to two others:

Toby Sterling
Just Dazzle

While the US celebrates Thanksgiving, I’m giving thanks for Josephine Baker as did the French government

It’s no secret that I love Josephine Baker. I love her self love, courage, moxy, bravery, generosity and optimism. There are a lot of lessons for black women in Josephine’s life.

On Thanksgiving Day 2007 I am thankful for my family and friends and for the life I have created in Sweden. I am also thankful to Josephine Baker who motivated me to move to Europe years ago.

The French government was also thankful for Josephine Baker as exemplified in the three honors they gave her:

October 8, 1946 French Medal of Resistance for her wartime work
August 18, 1961 Medal of the Legion d’Honneur, the highest honor that France can bestow, and the Rosette de Resistance
.

Here is my take on the Life Lessons from Josephine for which we can all be thankful she taught us:

1. First sex symbol of modern times. Josephine was known as “Black Venus”, “Creole Goddess” and “Black Pearl”. She became the inspiration to many of the hottest fashion designers of the time. By 1927 Josephine was one of the most photographed women in the world, along with personalities like Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford. Jos??phine Baker is noted for being the first woman of African descent to star in a major motion picture, to integrate an American concert hall, and to become a world famous entertainer. We always have been and always will be style icons. But make sure you have substance to go along with it.

2. When she was thirteen she became a waitress, met a man there named Willie Wells whom she married. She left him when the relationship went bad. She went on to be married a total of 4 times. Josephine never depended on a man financially, so she left relationships as soon as they’d began to fall apart. Don’t be afraid of hard work. And definitely don’t be afraid to get out of a bad situation. Even at a young age Josephine displayed self love.

3. Josephine participated in World War II as a performer for the soldiers as well as doing undercover work for the French Resistance. She smuggled secret messages written in invisible on her music. She also served as a sub-lieutenant in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. The French government awarded her with the Medal of Resistance, named her a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor and Rosette of the Resistance. Let your conscious be your guide. Do the right thing.

4. Although her celebrity status was unrivaled in Europe, when she returned to the United States in 1936 to star in the Ziegfield Follies the public rejected her due to her color. Visiting the U.S. again in the 1950’s, Josephine continued to fight against racism. The Stork Club rejected her as a customer, she began a media battle with pro-segregationist Walter Winchell as her opponent. The NAACP named May 20 as Josephine Baker Day to honor her efforts. She participated in the March on Washington in 1963. Don’t let society bring you down. Self love is possible and very necessary when you live in a hostile environment.

5. She protested in her own way against racism, adopting twelve multi-ethnic orphans, whom she called her “Rainbow Tribe.” Her adopted children were: Akio (Korean son), Janot (Japanese son), Luis (Colombian son), Jarry (Finnish son), Jean-Claude (Canadian son), Mo??se (French Jewish son), Brahim (Arab son), Marianne (French daughter), Koffi (Ivory Coast son), Mara (Venezuelan son), No??l (French son), Stellina (Moroccan daughter). We’ve got a lot of love to give.

6. After retiring to raise her adopted children, Baker had staved off financial problems in the ’50s by returning to the stage, but only temporarily; in 1964, “the sale of the chateau by auction was announced,”. The sale was avoided at the last minute thanks to the intervention of Brigitte Bardot and others, but the chateau was ultimately auctioned off in 1968. A clause in the sales contract allowed Baker to remain in her home until October, 1968, and a subsequent reprieve until March of the following year. While on the road, she learned that the owner planned to evict her, so she returned from touring, sent her children to Paris to stay with her sister, and barricaded herself in the kitchen. While she was out one morning collecting water — it was Baker who, on buying the chateau in 1947, had first installed running water and electricity to the estate — the owner locked her out. After spending the rest of the day and most of the night on the outside stoops of the kitchen, she was rushed to the hospital in a state of shock. Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III offered her a villa in Monaco, but financial troubles again forced her to return to performing. On April 12, 1975, four days after a triumphant return to the Paris stage, Josephine Baker died after suffering a brain hemorrhage. Keep your finances in order, but also keep good friends who can help you in your time of need.

Gloria Ray Karlmark-Little Rock 9 trailblazer-Swedish resident-Meet her on the 13th in Stockholm

Lucia Day Luncheon – December 13, 2007

with Emily Samson Tepe

11:45 a.m.-2 p.m.

Stockholm Grand Hotel, Hall of Mirrors

Special Guest – Gloria Ray Karlmark

Just before Christmas, Lucia comes to light up the long Swedish winter nights. Enjoy this bright and beautiful Lucia Day celebration in the elegant setting of the Grand Hotel???s Hall of Mirrors. Gloria Ray Karlmark, one of the members of the Little Rock Nine , will be our guest speaker and will tell us of the foundation she and ???The Nine??? have established, providing educational scholarships to lower-income children in America. She will also share with us her lifetime of work promoting positive race relations in the US, and her perspectives on Sweden. This will be followed by a traditional Lucia candlelight ceremony with the Emily Samson Tepe.

Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King are household names in the US for their roles in America???s Civil Rights movement. Less-known but equally important are the Little Rock Nine : 9 black high school kids who gained national attention in 1957 by challenging the South???s segregation of schools when they entered all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Forty years later, the Nine were honoured at the White House by President Bill Clinton, each receiving the highest award a non-military citizen can receive, the Congressional Gold Medal. Now, fifty years later, you have an opportunity to hear one of the Little Rock Nine speak at this year???s American Club Lucia Luncheon!


Gloria Ray Karlmark has lived in Sweden nearly 40 years, working throughout Europe for IBM and serving 15 years as Editor In Chief for the Computers in Industry journal, which she co-founded in 1976.

Fresh back from the US where she and her 8 colleagues commemorated the 50-year anniversary of that fateful day they walked through the gates of Central High School and into the history books, Gloria Ray Karlmark will tell us of the foundation she and ???The Nine??? have established, providing educational scholarships to lower-income kids in America. She will also share with us her lifetime of work promoting positive race relations in the US, and also of her perspectives on Sweden.

Do not miss this unique opportunity to hear one of America???s foremost Civil Rights pioneers!

11:45 a.m. Registration in Str??msalongerna and gl??gg and pepparkakor in the Vapensalen

12:00 p.m. Lucia luncheon in the Spegelsalen (Hall of Mirrors) with:

Speaker: Gloria Ray Karlmark
Lottery drawing
Music: Emily Samson Tepe

2:00 p.m. Luncheon concludes

DATE: Thursday, December 13, 2007

TIME: 11:45 a.m. ??? 2:00 p.m.

PLACE: Grand Hotel, Hall of Mirrors

COST: SEK 450:- per member before December 4; SEK 500:- thereafter. Members may bring one guest at the member price. SEK 575:- per non-member or additional guests. SEK 5000:- per table of 10 (4500:- if before December 4th)

RESERVATION AND PAYMENT: Reservation and payment no later than December 8. Reservations to Lucia Luncheon: email: amevents@amclubsweden.org. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or call Mike at 073 714 8789. Then, send payment to Bankgiro 5473-6830. Write ???Lucia Luncheon??? and print legibly the names of the participants. Space is limited – first come, first served. Reservations are binding after December 8.

Space is limited – Book early!

Cancellations must be made no later than 5 p.m. Friday, December 8, 2006. Reservations are binding thereafter.