This toy makes me angry - Mothering Forums
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Multicultural Families > This toy makes me angry
Beene's Avatar Beene 10:47 AM 01-13-2010
Maybe I am overreacting, but I really have a problem with this african safari toy. I hate that two lily white people are being chaffeured through Africa by a black man while what? destroying the animals' natural habitat?

http://www.nubiusorganics.com/ImagiP...set-P1774.aspx

who makes this garbage? What next? A plantation with slaves?

ChristaN's Avatar ChristaN 11:51 AM 01-13-2010
Not being African American myself, I probably wouldn't have picked up on it as quickly, but your post does make sense. And, it is worthwhile for white children to be taught better things than that as well b/c I bet that's the main group of kids whose parents wouldn't think to be offended and would purchase something like that for their animal loving preschoolers. I'd send a comment to the site, but try to word it in a manner that sounds calm so they don't just dismiss you as an extremist.
ilanaRose's Avatar ilanaRose 01:31 AM 01-16-2010
Sorry to say, but not everything is always, consciously or unconsciously, about race. A lot of people who visit africa are foreigners (many of whom are white) who go on safaris (because it's a popular tourist thing to do)....and many of those who drive the jeeps are black because Africa has a lot of black people and one of the available jobs is to drive a jeep on safaris... I think you're making this out to be more than it is... chauffered? how about, someone has a job (albeit bad for the environment, but a job IS a job). Yes, they could have put two brown people or 1 brown 1 black, or 1 brown 1 white, person in the jeep, but honestly, I doubt they gave it that much thought...must everything be so politically correct? I find myself not wanting to buy my son every multi-cultural toy that exists because that in and of itself might make him form some complex about race...just my opinion...this is coming from a multicultural african/mexican/european family...
Altair's Avatar Altair 02:00 AM 01-16-2010
it rubs me the wrong way, to put it mildly.
mountainsunshine's Avatar mountainsunshine 02:32 AM 01-16-2010
ITA that was my first thought. He looks happy to have that job too.I mean as happy as a little wooden man gets


Quote:
Originally Posted by ilanaRose View Post
Sorry to say, but not everything is always, consciously or unconsciously, about race. A lot of people who visit africa are foreigners (many of whom are white) who go on safaris (because it's a popular tourist thing to do)....and many of those who drive the jeeps are black because Africa has a lot of black people and one of the available jobs is to drive a jeep on safaris... I think you're making this out to be more than it is... chauffered? how about, someone has a job (albeit bad for the environment, but a job IS a job). Yes, they could have put two brown people or 1 brown 1 black, or 1 brown 1 white, person in the jeep, but honestly, I doubt they gave it that much thought...must everything be so politically correct? I find myself not wanting to buy my son every multi-cultural toy that exists because that in and of itself might make him form some complex about race...just my opinion...this is coming from a multicultural african/mexican/european family...

bajamergrrl's Avatar bajamergrrl 02:46 AM 01-16-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beene View Post
Maybe I am overreacting, but I really have a problem with this african safari toy. I hate that two lily white people are being chaffeured through Africa by a black man while what? destroying the animals' natural habitat?

http://www.nubiusorganics.com/ImagiP...set-P1774.aspx

who makes this garbage? What next? A plantation with slaves?
It rubs me the wrong way too.
ihugtrees's Avatar ihugtrees 03:07 AM 01-16-2010
I showed this to my husband (he is unsure of his background but assumes he is Middle Eastern from his appearance) and he immediately picked up on it.

It is a big deal. Racism is not about politically correct-ness. It's about the fact that our children, wherever they go, will constantly be reminded that they aren't white, that they aren't the majority. It's about the fact that people in movies, books, magazines, on the radio, and yes, even their toys...very few of those people look like them. That is something a white person will never experience here in the US, and yet its something that people of all races and ethnicities other than caucasian are aware of every day. And when their toys DO show someone of another race, someone who looks more like them, it is in this sort of capacity? I'm sorry, but I have a problem with that.
dziwozony's Avatar dziwozony 07:01 AM 01-16-2010
i don't think you're overreacting. the toy makers could have made them all one race or some random wooden colour & they specifically chose a black driver with white passengers. i would never buy a toy like that (& we are a white family).
Addy's Mom's Avatar Addy's Mom 01:01 PM 01-16-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilanaRose View Post
Sorry to say, but not everything is always, consciously or unconsciously, about race. A lot of people who visit africa are foreigners (many of whom are white) who go on safaris (because it's a popular tourist thing to do)....and many of those who drive the jeeps are black because Africa has a lot of black people and one of the available jobs is to drive a jeep on safaris... I think you're making this out to be more than it is... chauffered? how about, someone has a job (albeit bad for the environment, but a job IS a job). Yes, they could have put two brown people or 1 brown 1 black, or 1 brown 1 white, person in the jeep, but honestly, I doubt they gave it that much thought...must everything be so politically correct? I find myself not wanting to buy my son every multi-cultural toy that exists because that in and of itself might make him form some complex about race...just my opinion...this is coming from a multicultural african/mexican/european family...
I understand your POV. Likely there was no bad intent. But it is odd the two passengers are blond, when blonds are the tiniest of minorities on the planet.
sapphire_chan's Avatar sapphire_chan 04:47 PM 01-16-2010
A "safari" that small, and I'm going with it actually being a family group driving their own car. It's sad for them that the dd took after her mother so much, probably get a lot of questions about who her real dad is and her father probably gets mean looks when they go out alone together.

And now people who usually know better assume he's some sort of chauffeur. Poor guy just can't catch a break.

More seriously, the passengers appear to be loosely based of the owner of the company who produced the toy: http://www.imagiplay.com/about.php

And the driver can't be white because using a white African for that role would ignore all the black Africans who were there first.
Jackies Ladybug's Avatar Jackies Ladybug 06:29 PM 01-16-2010
haha, thats awesome sapphire! i had neighbors like that actually. the mom was white and was pregnant when she met her (black) husband. they got married before the little girl was born and he was written in as father on her birth certificate.
they indeed did get a lot of grief from strangers, especially on the first day of school when he would walk down to pick her up. (daughter is same age as me, we went to same school)
i bet this is exactly what it would look like if they rented a jeep for a safari in africa!
EdnaMarie's Avatar EdnaMarie 06:46 PM 01-16-2010
LOL SC!

On the one hand, I think that the driver had to be black. I mean... it's Africa, right? The indigenous people are all shades of brown to very dark brown.

But the people in the car? That is irritating. A mix of colors would have been much less offensive, and I do think it is mildly offensive. OTOH, as some pointed out, there are white people who go to Africa, and they do have African chauffeurs (it being Africa and all), and they look like that, and there's nothing wrong with tourism in Africa, is there?
fresh_veggie's Avatar fresh_veggie 07:02 PM 01-16-2010
DH and I lived in Mozambique for several years. I don't find this toy offensive. This "chauffeur" is HAPPY to have his job as a safari guide. He would give his testicles to keep it, because he makes more than 95% of the local African population. He could be cutting sugar cane all day every day for $30 a month...because there is no minimum wage or workers protection in Africa, thanks to the local Africans who run the government. That "chauffeur" could go and be a logger for the Chinese in Africa - even better! He'd make $25 a month for the one of the hardest and most dangerous jobs around. And those lily white people (plus all the other people who go on tours, like Middle Easterners and Asians) going on the safari are the only ones contributing to his current pay anyway, because you don't see the native Africans going on safaris. Plus they're likely to tip him very well, a hundred dollars or more per trip. It's his JOB, and it is a good one.

I see how children could get the wrong idea from this toy, seeing white people chauffeured by a black man, I don't deny that. But if kids know that these are tourists visiting the African man in his home, Africa, it would make more sense to them.

I personally don't like safaris, especially because of the animal cruelty involved sometimes (we don't eat meat). There really isn't a huge amount of environmental damage.. in Kruger Park for example, you just drive the jeep out into a huge open range. No harm done.
claddaghmom's Avatar claddaghmom 07:11 PM 01-16-2010
I think the concept is worthwhile for an older child. My siblings (5yo and up) would understand that the people are white b/c they are visiting Africa, where many people are black skinned. I think my 11yo brother even did a school assignment on vitamin D and dark skin.

But, the kids who play with this set are probably toddlers...so I don't get why they are different colors at all and thus is bothers me. I feel the company's issues coming through the toy...I don't want to buy someone elses issue. I want a nice toy for my toddler.
cappuccinosmom's Avatar cappuccinosmom 07:42 PM 01-16-2010
Quote:
But it is odd the two passengers are blond, when blonds are the tiniest of minorities on the planet.
Sure, but not really in the context of safari's in Africa, yk? Who goes on Safaris? Mostly white folk. Probably even a number of blonds.

I tend to agree with what fresh-veggie said.

Although, my husband did get to go to a nature reserve in Ethiopia once, and was "chauffered" by a white missionary. Only, he didn't see it as "chauffering" (in the derogatory sense) any more than he would if he were the one driving. Whoever has a car, drives. Whoever has a car, is lucky and can make a really good living. He'd say "If foreigners want to spend money to look at animals in my country, they'd be welcome to ride in my car and pay me, no problem".
ticklemegreen's Avatar ticklemegreen 10:34 PM 01-16-2010
I didn't think of him as a chauffer, he's a tour guide. It's an African Safari. Most people in Africa are black. I think you're looking too far into this.
Cetan Luta's Avatar Cetan Luta 10:41 PM 01-16-2010
I totally understand where you are coming from. We are mixed American Indian, and it is practically impossible to find AI toys that aren't supremely stereotypical. They don't seem offensive to most people, but when you are a minority, you tend to look at the harmfulness of stereotypes in whole different ways. It will be nice when there are more multiracial toys available to kids that help them to be proud of their heritage, or understand someone else's better, rather than perpetuating (usually outdated) stereotypes.
Happeesupermom's Avatar Happeesupermom 11:29 PM 01-16-2010
It seems to me that you're possibly reading too much into this.

I agree with PPs who have pointed out that, in Africa, it would be "normal" to see a black driver and white people on Safari.

If you feel the need to explain it to your children, I'm sure you can see the wisdom in explaining the truth and reason about how things really are. If the play set came with a purple- and green- and blue-skinned people, you would have to explain that people really don't have purple or green or blue skin in reality. No?

If it really bothers you, don't buy the toy.

Just my 2 cents.

Jane91's Avatar Jane91 03:15 AM 01-17-2010
After being on safari in Botswana, my experience is that @85% of the visitors are european tourists. Remainder American with no Africans (of any color) as visitors.

Being a guide is NOT being a chauffeur -- these are people who are experienced and knowledgable about the intricate wildlife around them. Park ranger is a much better equivalent. In fact, I believe guiding was traditionally a "white" job (and I have heard generally remains so in South Africa), so black guides are in fact progress.

I believe photo safaris do assist in preserving local wildlife as hunting is prohibited on all the concessions we visited, and if you pick your company wisely, can be an economic benefit to citizens.

I will admit, when we first arrived there was a bit of an uncomfortable feeling being white while all the service providers (cooks, staff, etc.) were black -- that sort of plantation thing someone mentioned. But I thought -- if I were in Japan or India having a similar experience, would I be uncomfortable that all the staff was Japanese or Indian?
readytobedone's Avatar readytobedone 03:54 AM 01-17-2010
OP, i don't think you're overreacting.

i'm white and find it creepy as hell.
fresh_veggie's Avatar fresh_veggie 04:53 PM 01-17-2010
When you look closer, he really doesn't even look like an African. He looks Middle Eastern or Indian, or like a mix.
Smithie's Avatar Smithie 05:03 PM 01-17-2010
We're white and my ds has a huge passion for animals. I've actually never bought him a safari playset, not because it irks me to see a black tour guide (in fact, as others have pointed out, it would be even more irksome to have a tour guide who was NOT black in the African safari playset). But the "passengers" in the playset are always 100% pallid. This must be the 20th playset I've seen with all-white passengers. So that's the stumbling block for me.
philomom's Avatar philomom 05:07 PM 01-17-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by ticklemegreen View Post
I didn't think of him as a chauffer, he's a tour guide. It's an African Safari. Most people in Africa are black. I think you're looking too far into this.
Yep, it didn't bother me at all. I felt it was realistic.
hillymum's Avatar hillymum 05:26 PM 01-17-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane91 View Post
After being on safari in Botswana, my experience is that @85% of the visitors are european tourists. Remainder American with no Africans (of any color) as visitors.

Being a guide is NOT being a chauffeur -- these are people who are experienced and knowledgable about the intricate wildlife around them. Park ranger is a much better equivalent. In fact, I believe guiding was traditionally a "white" job (and I have heard generally remains so in South Africa), so black guides are in fact progress.

I believe photo safaris do assist in preserving local wildlife as hunting is prohibited on all the concessions we visited, and if you pick your company wisely, can be an economic benefit to citizens.

I will admit, when we first arrived there was a bit of an uncomfortable feeling being white while all the service providers (cooks, staff, etc.) were black -- that sort of plantation thing someone mentioned. But I thought -- if I were in Japan or India having a similar experience, would I be uncomfortable that all the staff was Japanese or Indian?

Exactly! When in Malawi (1997) the guides were all white. The house servants were all black.

Being PC doesn't work unless you are very knowledgablety about the culture and what it is like in reality. Until you have seen the shanty towns most live in, you don't realise how greatful someone is to have the job of house servant/ gardener / chaffeure.
ihugtrees's Avatar ihugtrees 10:15 PM 01-17-2010
I'm not the OP, but...

Just because it is realistic does not mean it is not racist. Racism is still alive and well all over the world, so even if the toy does 'make sense', it doesn't mean it's right. And, I DON'T feel it's right. 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.

Okay, okay, I know it's a toy. But this is in response to all of the people here who are saying, 'It's a-ok! That's the way it is in Africa!' So what? Yes, much of Africa is a horribly impoverished country that can best make money by inviting white tourists in to gawk at them. That doesn't mean it's all right.

But, I look at the world very differently than most people, so that could be the problem here. And, after all, we are talking about something completely different, when we go from toys to actual safari's. But that's just my 2 cents.
pixiekisses's Avatar pixiekisses 11:13 PM 01-17-2010
I think you're overthinking it. I don't find it offensive at all. It wouldn't even cross my mind.

I agree with this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by fresh_veggie View Post
DH and I lived in Mozambique for several years. I don't find this toy offensive. This "chauffeur" is HAPPY to have his job as a safari guide. He would give his testicles to keep it, because he makes more than 95% of the local African population. He could be cutting sugar cane all day every day for $30 a month...because there is no minimum wage or workers protection in Africa, thanks to the local Africans who run the government. That "chauffeur" could go and be a logger for the Chinese in Africa - even better! He'd make $25 a month for the one of the hardest and most dangerous jobs around. And those lily white people (plus all the other people who go on tours, like Middle Easterners and Asians) going on the safari are the only ones contributing to his current pay anyway, because you don't see the native Africans going on safaris. Plus they're likely to tip him very well, a hundred dollars or more per trip. It's his JOB, and it is a good one.

I see how children could get the wrong idea from this toy, seeing white people chauffeured by a black man, I don't deny that. But if kids know that these are tourists visiting the African man in his home, Africa, it would make more sense to them.

I personally don't like safaris, especially because of the animal cruelty involved sometimes (we don't eat meat). There really isn't a huge amount of environmental damage.. in Kruger Park for example, you just drive the jeep out into a huge open range. No harm done.

PGTlatte's Avatar PGTlatte 11:38 PM 01-17-2010
I'm not bothered that the driver has brown skin..but they could have introduced a bit more color variety among the passengers....perhaps a couple more passengers, and at least some brown hair, if not some darker skin ? I don't like that the toy goes along with assumptions about race, even if they may be likely to be true...I just don't like to cast race that way with toys or books.
Tara2's Avatar Tara2 01:27 AM 01-18-2010
well it's hard to say, isn't it... a lot of the pp made sense to me... but i can see why it is offensive too. Because if you, I, or we don't stand up to racism now, even in an organic wooden toymaking company (and i am very pro organic wooden toys, believe me!) who will? and if not now, when? I think it may be appropriate to contact the company and voice your opinion on a toy like this and the message therein JMHO
aramat's Avatar aramat 02:13 AM 01-18-2010
Yeah, I wouldn't buy it. Realistic, maybe, but if a toy makes you wince until you hear the explanation...
Cherry_Milan's Avatar Cherry_Milan 03:53 AM 01-18-2010
I'm not Black or African, but I wouldn't buy it, either.
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