If this maker's toys are all about white people having fun and minorities "serving" them, I would have a problem with that toy maker, but if it is one of many toys produced (and one of many in my home) showing the diverse world in which we live, then I do not see a problem with it. I do not think that we should avoid putting people of certain colors or ethnicities in any role, any more than we should depict any given role as the job of one ethnicity or another. As another PP pointed out, we are not surprised to see giraffes and elephants as part of the safari toy, so why should we be shocked to see a black African providing a service to tourists who happen to be of a different color/ethnicity? As another PP pointed out, if there was a white driver, then someone would complain that they have not even bothered to depict black Africans. So which situation is more racist? Hard to tell out of context that a toy cannot be expected to provide.
[QUOTE=ihugtrees;14945014]I think there is something sick & twisted about rich, privileged folks going to a country and spending more money in a few weeks than most people on that continent will have in their lifetimes...a country which is stricken with civil unrest, disease and poverty like they will never understand...and yet their very presence as a tourist creates the only job in which an African man can make a decent living? Meanwhile the countryside and the animals are exploited? It's disgusting to me. My father went on a mission trip to Kenya, to help build an orphanage (which I didn't agree with. The truth is, all the money you spend getting to Africa to 'help' could be better spent if you just sent it on over), and they did take a safari while they were there...the animals, especially the elephants, were very disturbed by their presence. It's just sad to me.
Well, the fact of the matter is that the tourism industry is an important source of foreign exchange and jobs for many countries in Africa and elsewhere (including developed countries such as Italy and France). The tourism sector has a very large mutiplier effect on local economies, including local farms that provide fresh produce, tour guides (such as the so-called "chauffeur" in this toy), handicraft makers, lawyers, accountants, traders, taxi drivers, and so on. OK, maybe the money spent on my flight is "wasted" (though it does provide jobs to airport staff in the destination country), but please do not discount the value of the tourism sector. Is there exploitation in the sector? Yes, but let us not throw the baby out with the bath water. My work is in developing countries, to create sustainable job opportunities in productive sectors of the economy, which may include tourism, as well as manufacturing, information technology and related services, from microenterprises to local entrepreneurs to foreign investors that bring in new technologies and training. Civil unrest, disease and poverty are a symptom of a country without sustainable job opportunities. Creating those jobs, in tourism or other sectors, is neither sick nor disgusting, and can contribute toward greater stability and, eventually, greater prosperity.
Yes, there are sickeningly poor people in the many countries in which I work, but you cannot expect that to be reflected in a child's toy. How many people are going to buy the Playmobil version of the shanty town with unsanitary water supplies, no medical services, hunger and deathly epidemics? And, yes, there are also horrible inequities that are the legacy of colonialism and racism throughout Africa, but again this is a safari-themed toy that cannot be expected to address all these issues.